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9 things you need to know before going gluten-free

alexaGluten-free blogger Alexa Tucker has come to the end of her diaries, but she is continuing the lifestyle. Here’s her advice for anyone taking the GF plunge

It feels like just yesterday that I passed on my first toastie in favor of gluten-free soup at Pret—it’s hard to believe I’ve been wheat-free for eight weeks. Sure, it hasn’t been without cheats, cravings, and frustrations from falling off the wagon every so often, but overall, I’m glad I did it.

In fact, I’m glad I’m doing it—just because the blog is ending doesn’t mean I have to stop being gluten-free. (However, I can’t say I’ll be perfect when I take my trip to Italy in a couple of weeks. Eating pasta and pizza is part of experiencing the culture, right?)

On the beach in Barcelona for a weekend trip with my flatmate, Mackenzie–slightly slimmer, but not quite where I’d like to be.

I didn’t have as significant of a weight change as I did the first time I went GF, but I suspect this was because I had a few more downfalls. (Traveling gluten-free, as it turns out, is hard—but not impossible.) I do feel a bit more slender, though, especially after I’ve been really good for a week. This is a bit of added motivation for me to keep in the back of my head -even feeling a bit leaner is a big confidence booster for me, so I should be doing what I know helps me get there, right?

I did notice my energy go back up once I added the iron supplements so I got what I wanted out of being gluten-free in that regard. Also, I feel less sore. My lower back doesn’t hurt when I’m lying in bed at night, and my joints don’t feel achy.

Going gluten free was a great chance to listen to my body—I already knew I felt better when I wasn’t eating wheat, but this was a reminder of how much better I feel when I’m passing up on bread, cookies and cakes.

Eating out in Barcelona--Sangria's gluten-free, right?
Eating out in Barcelona with my other flatmate, Devin -Sangria’s gluten-free, right?

I have noticed that I’m starting to do the same things I did the last time around I went gluten-free—I get less strict about it as time passes, and if there’s something wheat-y on a menu that sounds more appealing than a GF option, I’ll get it anyway. I’m fine at home, but I’m really not good with temptation while eating out. This is something I’ll continue to work on. I don’t want to totally banish wheat from my diet for ever and ever, because that’s just an overwhelming thought, but I should be reminding myself that I feel bloated and sleepy after making a choice that involves gluten. Plus, I feel guilty. As much as I try not to beat myself up, I feel better about myself when I make a gluten-free choice and avoid the temptation. It makes me feel stronger, to be honest.

I’ll be back in NYC this summer, which is what really tripped me up the first go around at living gluten-free, but this time, I’ve got even more tips lined up to keep me on track.

Here are 9 things I’ve learned will help if you’re thinking about going gluten-free.

1. A strong support system

Make sure the people close to you know you’re going gluten-free—it’s helpful to have someone cheering you on from the sidelines and helping you keep on track. I was lucky to have friends who stuck to gluten-free friendly restaurants with me and didn’t tempt me into choices I’d regret. One thing that would be even better though, would be having someone to go gluten-free alongside me. Maybe someday.

2. A GF swap of your favorite food

Temptation happens, and you’ll want to be prepared. If you miss sandwiches or toast, try picking up Perkier bread every once in a while. It’s as close as I’ve found to the real thing. If you’re a cookie monster, try Udi’s gluten free cashew nut & salted caramel cookies—so delicious. Even Kevin, our resident video editor, loved them, and he’s not GF. However, I’m not to be trusted with cookies in my apartment (I could probably eat an entire box in one sitting—both impressive and disgustingly gluttonous), so instead of keeping them around, I head to one of these GF bakeries when a sweet craving strikes.


3. Corn thins

Because rice cakes will get old, and these corn-based alternatives have more flavor.

4. The Internet

It sounds so straightforward, but I promise, if the Internet wasn’t your best friend before, it is now. I always check out restaurant menus before going out to eat to see what their GF options are. Plus, even the most used gluten-free apps tend to not to have all restaurants with GF options listed (how can they, after all?), so I find it so much easier just to Google nearby restaurants that offer GF choices.


5. Wheat Belly by William Davis

I wrote about this Godsend of a book in my first blog, and I’m planning on reading it again to reacquaint myself with why I went GF in the first place. It gives countless reasons on why life is better without gluten, both for your waistline and your mind. Davis is also clear about what you can eat lots of, what you can eat some of, and what you should avoid altogether. Another great book on the mental side of gluten is Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, which I wrote about in week 3.

6. Nakd Bars

We literally cannot say enough good things about Nakd Bars. Lots of bars and other on-the-go snacks have gluten in them, but these 4-ingredient treats are perfect to pop in your purse for when hunger hits.


7. The Whole Foods Market Recipe app

I wish I would have discovered this app earlier–there are some really delish-looking recipes on here. You can look at only gluten-free recipes, or you can add more filters like sugar-concious, dairy-free, vegan – whatever your heart (or stomach) desires. I’ve officially found my new favorite recipe app.

8. Knowledge of ‘sneaky gluten’

Gluten is a sneaky little protein, I tell ya. It’s in soy sauce, curry, marshmallows, and licorice, plus it’s often in pasta sauce, salad dressings, soup pots, and so much more. You get the idea—gluten’s not just in bread and cakes. Look on ingredient listings for wheat and check the back of products to see if it makes an allergen statement that says ‘includes: gluten.’ Careful—wheat is just one ingredient that includes gluten, though it’s the most common. (Here’s a helpful list of other ingredients to watch for.) Also, check out gluten-free versions of pantry staples that often include gluten. 

athlete running sport feet on trail healthy lifestyle fitness

9. The right mindset

This is the most important tip I have. I chatted with nutritionist Suzie Sawyer, founder of Nutrition Lifestyle, at a recent press event, and she gave me a few tips for avoiding gluten that really stuck with me. They weren’t about what I should and shouldn’t eat; rather, they were about how to stick to gluten free from a mental standpoint. Here are four of her tips that had me thinking.

  • Don’t beat yourself up I struggle with this one, but I’m trying to combat it a bit by following her second bit of advice…
  • Give yourself praise for trying  Why shouldn’t we be as happy with ourselves when we do something right as we are mad at ourselves when we mess up?
  • Think about how you feel after you eat gluten When I really listen to my body, it’s easy to see that I feel better when I’m avoiding wheat. When I do cheat, I don’t feel like I’m at my best. In Sawyer’s opinion, we should be aiming for about 9 out of 10 on a ‘feeling good’ scale. If we’re not, something should be reassessed.
  • Do something different when you get a craving I paint my nails, go for a run, or read a book. One thing I don’t do: watch TV. One of my biggest guilty pleasures in life is to eat in front of trash telly, so this really isn’t good when I’m trying to keep my hand out of the cookie jar.

Thanks for following my gluten-free journey, Healthistas – it’s been real! 

Alexa blogs at


The gluten-free diaries: week 1

The gluten-free diaries: week 2

The gluten-free diaries: week 3

The gluten-free diaries: week 4

Best gluten-free lunches on the go

3 best gluten-free bakeries

22 best gluten-free kitchen buys

Best gluten-free comfort eats


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