This is my story.
- Take baby steps! If you are symptom-free and just want to avoid these foods, start by giving up one food item at a time. For example, the easiest start to gluten-free is to give up pasta and bread. Since most bariatric patients are told to limit those food items anyway, it’s an easy first step.
- Make sensible swaps! There are so many lactose-free and gluten-free products nowadays! There is soy/almond/coconut milks, creamers and yogurts, there is also soy/rice cheese. The Silk brand is my favorite and I use it for all protein shakes. There are many gluten-free sauces out there for marinating and making stir-fry by the brand San-J.
- Investigate! Most stores have gluten-free sections where you can do your shopping without the tedious task of checking every single label. (Whole Foods and Trader Joes are especially good with this.) However, if your store does not have a gluten-free section, READ YOUR LABELS. Anything that says wheat, barley, or rye = gluten. As for dairy, anything that has whey, casienate, or milk = dairy.
- Substitute with healthier options. For example, I crisp a corn tortilla in a pan and use that as my "bread" for a sandwich. Use cauliflower to make the "crust" for pizza with really fresh marinara, lean meat and veggies. Don't be afraid to get creative.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Being gluten-free and dairy-free also means shopping on the outskirts of major grocery stores. This also promotes clean eating. Grab your produce, your nuts and grains, meats, fish, dairy substitutes, and eggs all without heading down any isles. Not to say there aren't some great quick canned options for some things.
- Focus on how you feel. It can be difficult at first to give up something you think you "love", but if you focus on how much better you’ll feel, it won’t seem like such a sacrifice.