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A farewell to gluten

How you can stop eating what you love most in 5 (not easy) steps.

Step 1: accept the change

The first and most important thing to do in order to stop eating what you love most is to accept change. When change knocks at your door, most of the time it is unwanted and unexpected. Your animal instinct will immediately tell you to fight what is happening. And if you think of it, that’s the most logical reaction.

This is exactly what happened to me a couple of months ago, when the doctor told me I had to stop eating what I love most: gluten. Basically, anything that I love (pasta, pizza, pastries of any kind, bread, cakes, biscuits…). I am not sure you can understand how painful this revelation is for someone like me. I am Italian, for God’s sake! All my daily meals have featured white flour for 34 beautiful and unforgettable years.

Come on, is it even physically possible to live without gluten? And if so, is a gluten-free life worth living? I wanted to die at first. It took me a whole 2 weeks of gluten overdose during holidays in Italy, to realize that maybe my body knew more than I do. And that, maybe, a journey into the gluten-free world could not do me wrong in the end.

So here is what I’ve been learning: when change gets at you, the best thing you can do is just roll with it. Fighting the change will bring you nowhere, plus you will need all the energy you can spare to stay strong through the process. So suck it up babe! You got this.

Step 2: keep your eyes on the prize

Changing a life-long habit is never easy. It can help to think that when these things need to happen it is usually for something even better to happen next. Therefore, if you want to stop eating what you love most, you need to stay focused!

The key is to remind yourself that it is worth it. Think about the positive effects that this change will have on your body and your mind. Set reminders on your phone. Schedule some time during the day to circle back to your “why’s”. Think back at what awaits at the end of the journey. For me, it’s the promise of feeling better, less tired and galvanized.

At the beginning, I thought I could also aspire to lose some weight but you will find out this ain’t going to happen due to step 4. Of course, an intimidating, kick-ass doctor who keeps regular track of your diet can help too.

Step 3: celebrate the little wins

The road to change will be so very long. You have to praise yourself every single day for having controlled your basic instincts and for resisting to temptation!

Believe me: when you have lived and loved all sorts of bread since birth, you realize that even spending just one day away from a baguette is a huge accomplishment. Which, in my case, needs celebrating with a big nice glass of red wine. Again, you will see in step 4 how I am not going to lose any weight here.

I have tried so many different diets in my life. I’ve always found it easier to stick to the change after a small time of exaggeration. Like I said before, if you know you have to stop eating white flour, I suggest you start after a full week of cakes and pastries of any kind. That will make you so sick you will almost be even happy to start your new diet!

(Note to self: look at you, thinking you can trick your mind so easily. Good for you!).

Step 4: find an enjoyable alternative

There is always an alternative. Even if not the most suitable (like the big glass of red wine I just spoke about). But that doesn’t matter at this stage. When you are asked to remove something you love from your diet, the only way through is to find something that is somehow equally enjoyable.

Therefore, when you are told to stop eating white flour like me, sadly, you need to find something that will replace your afternoon cookies. I stuff myself with chocolate for instance. After all, no one said this new diet was supposed to make me lose weight.

This is your safe anchor, the one little thing that you will hang on to during difficult times, and the little treat that will keep you from falling into depression, so it has to be something that is enjoyable enough to keep you away from trouble and temptations.

Step 5: listen to your body

This is probably the most serious and eye-opening tip you can grab from this list. Believe me, your body knows better than you do. It does know what is good for you and if you take the time to listen to it, it will even tell you what is bad and has to be stopped.

When my body started not to function as expected anymore, I went to see a specialist. She told me that those little pains here and there were signals my body was throwing at me, to tell me that something was wrong and had to be changed.

Again, for someone who loves any kind of pizza (and when I say “any kind” that also includes “cheesy crust” from Pizza Hut, which normally sounds like an insult to most Italians) it takes a lot to digest an information like this. Your body does not tolerate the things you love the most. I almost fainted in front of the doctor.

At first, I thought my body did not love me at all, given it was basically sending me directly through a living hell. With time, and after spending a couple of weeks into step 1, I started to realize that actually my body did love me. And that is exactly the reason why it was telling me to stop gluten.

Now if you’ll excuse me: it’s breakfast time and I have a warm double chocolate croissant waiting in front of me (hey, nobody is perfect, and maybe I am still struggling with acceptance here…)