6 Months Into A Gluten-Free Lifestyle...

It's been a little over six months since I adopted a gluten-free lifestyle. At first I wasn't sure I would be able to stick with it for more than a week, but I found that it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.

What Made It Easy:

+ I found gluten-free products like Udi's and Food Should Taste Good that I loved so I didn't have to give up breads, bagels or chips.

+ Some of my favorite foods, like sushi, were already gluten-free.

+ My cousin Jeff has been eating gluten-free for years. It was tremendously helpful to have someone close to me that I could ask questions to and eat with.

But don't get me wrong, there were some challenges.

What Was (and sometimes continues to be) Difficult:

+ Some chain restaurants like PF Chang's and BJ's Brewery have gluten-free items listed on their menu, but not all restaurants do. I had to learn how to ask for modified dishes, but even more difficult was not being able to order my favorites (like salt and pepper prawns).

On the bright side, I found new gluten-free restaurants like Asian Box that I have a slightly unhealthy obsession with. Also, some restaurants will happily offer to modify their dishes (it doesn't hurt to ask!). When traveling home from Portland last month I had lunch at Beaches Restaurant in the airport. When I asked if the stir-fried veggie bowl had soy sauce, the server asked if I needed it to be gluten-free and then proceeded to ask the kitchen to substitute the regular soy sauce with sweet chili oil and gluten-free soy sauce! /tangent

+ I still haven't mastered the art of cooking gluten-free pasta. I experimented with different brands and found some to be downright disgusting. I have found a brand that is pretty good but it's a hit or miss if I can cook it properly. I've found that GF pasta is very sensitive - it’s so easy to under/over cook it.

+ There is no substitute for ramen. It's one of my most favorite foods and probably what I miss the most. Especially when my runnings friends and I have Ramen Runs. The fried rice at Genki Ramen is great, but just isn't the same as a big bowl of veggie ramen.

What I've Learned:

+ I plan my weekly meals using recipes that I find on blogs and Pinterest. I'm not very proficient in the kitchen but I have learned how to modify a recipe to make it gluten-free. For example, substituting breadcrumbs with GF cornflakes.

+ Just because something is gluten-free doesn't mean that it's healthy. I've found that so many gluten-free bloggers only post recipes for baked goods recipes. Baked goods may not have gluten but they still have a lot of sugar.

+ I've become an expert label reader. I created a note on my phone listing all the foods that contain gluten. When I grocery shop I read the labels and can tell if something is gluten-free (if not already marked). However, some grocery stores (like Whole Foods) have gluten-free sections and also have gluten-free labels on the shelving.

How I've Felt:

+ My sleep continues to be very good. + I have always had very oily, acne-prone skin. Since going GF my skin is noticeably less oily and I rarely have any breakouts. + I used to always feel so sick after almost every single meal, but now I no longer feel bloated or have digestive issues. And when I do, I know I accidentally ate something with gluten. + I used to experiences extreme motions - very high highs and very low low's. Now I feel more in control of my emotions. I'm not as quick to anger and have less dark, depressive periods.

Adopting a gluten-free lifestyle (I hate the word "diet") has been one of the best decisions I have made.

Here are a few of my favorite gluten-free recipes:

+ Shrimp & Vegetable Quinoa Fried Rice + Dirty Brown Rice with Shrimp + Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad