5 Lessons I Learned During My 8-Year Gluten-free Journey

Posted by ivylau on July 10, 2015 - Leave a comment

5 Lessons I Learned During My 8-Year Gluten-free Journey

I still remember when I first realized something was wrong with my body. My skin would break out like I had German measles every day. I was eventually diagnosed with Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH), but it took several dermatologists over two months to diagnose my problem; skin biopsies were sent to Stanford hospital lab to confirm the result.

Yep, I was gluten intolerant.

Starting my gluten-free journey was not easy. I had to re-learn the way and what I eat every day. When you’re the mother of two children, you’re the one in charge of food and every food buying decision. Suddenly life got a lot more complicated.

From Day 1 as a mother, I always emphasized eating healthy foods; it’s a big deal for me, very important. When I was growing up in Hong Kong, my mother cooked every meal from scratch. She would go to market twice a day to buy fish, meat and vegetable to prepare meals for the family. Zoom ahead to today with our busy life styles; I was a working mother (business owner) with two children. Of course, we altered our diet, and depended increasingly on processed food.

One note: not all processed food is evil. But when you have the manufacturers and grocery stores emphasizing long shelf-life, it creates a huge push to make food last longer and cheaper; that means more chemicals, additives and preservatives in our food. The bread, cookies, and cake may look fresh, but may have been sitting there for weeks. In order to make the food tastier, they generally add more sugar and fat. Not good.

Here’s what I learned along the way of my gluten free journey:

1.  Learn to Read Labels
If you are on a gluten-free diet, you have to read every label and every ingredient on each product. No exceptions-do it before you purchase them. Regulators allow more than 3000 food additives, preservatives and flavoring colors to be added to US foods. Examples include: high-fructose corn syrup, artificial color, artificial flavors, MSG and many more. If you don’t know the ingredient, educate yourself – start by Googling them. You will be surprised what you find. Learn to read food labels, and generally steer toward products with ingredients that you understand.

2.  No bread, No pizza, No cookies…No Problem (Make Your Own)
Our eating habits are very predictable; you eat certain foods everyday, so you want something different every now and then. No bread? Oh no, what are you going to do in the morning? You can start buying gluten-free bread from the stores. But the better way is to learn how to make your own gluten-free bread, cake and cookies. Spend some time to learn how to cook gluten-free food; make a big batch of them, then freeze them. Remember that the bread, the pizza that you buy from the grocery store come from freezer. Once you start making your own, so will yours. You can do it too!

3.  “Fresh frozen”  Food is a Healthy Option (with Good Preservatives)
I shifted to eating frozen food for the first time when I started my gluten-free diet. I learned that frozen food can actually be healthy, and it’s a great way to preserve food. That’s a key reason that we created our own frozen GF entrée meals.

Just avoid frozen meals that are loaded with chemicals; sure they’re cheap, but you get what you pay for. Quality is often poor and the food is unhealthy. Buy quality frozen food, and read the labels.

4.  Educate Friends and Family
I am on social media a lot, so I see tons of stories about gluten free people being invited to dinner parties, holiday parties, company picnics, only to find they don’t even offer gluten-free food; either the hosts didn’t know about the gluten issue or they ignored it. I had many of those experiences too. Educate them, let them know if you eat gluten you will be very sick (like food poisoning). Be proactive, bring our own food and make yourself special. Make them salivate over your delicious gluten-free desserts.

5. Keep a Level Head
97% people in our world don’t have to be on a gluten-free diet. Most of the people do not understand WHY we have to be gluten-free. Instead of getting angry with them, discuss with them and educate them. Tell them how sick you will be and how your body will react with gluten. But like any education, some people will understand and some won’t get it until being educated for several times.

Like Confucius said “Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I will learn.”

Try to keep a peaceful state of mind, no matter what happens. Think:


Gluten free sweet and sour chicken

You can also buy our (Ivy’s Garden) Gluten Free Sweet & Sour Chicken, Gluten Free Lemon Chicken and Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets food products online or stores near you. http://www.ivysgardenfood.com/stores-or-online/ or read about our product reviews from other bloggers.


“I just tried your gluten free sweet & sour chicken and could not believe how GOOD it is…I can’t wait to try the nuggets and lemon chicken. …”

Carolyn Straaberg (Brentwood, California)
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