Welcome to the world of gluten-free living: here is your salad, now sit in the corner and don’t think about bread.
A joke, yes. A bad one, very. But this is what a lot of people feel like when they first go gluten-free.
Those first couple of days can be so desperate that you may find yourself skipping the bowl and eating spring mix directly out of the plastic bag. Plain too, because who knows where the gluten is hiding in salad dressings, right?
Lunchtime is especially tough during those first days and weeks, and this is especially true if you were a fan of heading out to eat on your lunch break.
Burgers and fries are pretty much out. Even ordering fast food without the bun can lead to major contamination issues, which could lead you feeling bloated and uncomfortable at best for the rest of the day.
Nope—once you go gluten-free, you pretty much are dedicating yourself to a life of brown bags at noon. The good news is that there are plenty of creative and delicious ways that you can fill your lunch box.
As you grow more comfortable with gluten’s favorite hiding places, you’ll start noticing the things that you can still eat.
Gluten-Free Lunch Ideas
For the sandwich lovers out there, you have a handful of options — the easiest being to make the easy swap over to gluten free bread.
Udi’s is the most popular gluten-free bread on the market. You can usually find it in the frozen section at your grocery store (look near the frozen garlic bread, but then quickly look away from the actual garlic bread).
If you go this route, make sure that you are careful with what you are putting in between the slices. Not all cold cuts are safe to gluten-free eaters. Keep in mind that Boars Head advertises that they are 100% gluten-free, but many less expensive alternatives will cure their meat with wheat as a method of preservation.
Check the labels of everything you put on your sandwich, from mayo to peanut butter, to make sure that no stray maltodextrin found its way into the mix.
The downside to this idea is that gluten-free bread can be pricey and is loaded with just as many carbs as the gluten-filled alternative. Instead, you can skip the traditional bread and make a faux sandwich. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
- Put your PB&J on rice cakes instead of bread. They are lower in calories and stay reasonably crisp, even after staying in your lunchbox all morning. Go with a lightly salted variety and not a flavored rice cake for the best results.
- Make your sandwich into a wrap with either lettuce or a corn tortilla. You can also think about putting the cheese or other condiments directly on the meat itself and wrapping the meat into a roll.
- Look into microwaveable soups that are free of gluten. There are all sorts of varieties that have veggies and meat instead of any sort of pasta. Remember to read the full label or look for the “GF” logo before purchasing.
If you still want to head out for lunch, look for gluten-free options on the go by getting a smoothie or rice bowl instead of a traditional sub or sandwich.
Remember, the transition is the hardest part! Once you find something you like to eat it will be much easier to keep focused and stick to the gluten-free lifestyle.