Publishing writer Bethan Littley was encouraged to go gluten free. These days, she’s learning to embrace the change…

Having been gluten free for two years now, I never think twice about what I eat. But it hasn’t always been that easy. To start with, I didn’t really know what gluten was. But the thought of no more custard creams and Battenberg cake was pretty miserable. For a while I struggled, and looking back on it I wish I’d known more about the alternatives. I found it frustrating that going to restaurants was not the convenient, indulgent experience it used to be. Settling for a salad while surrounded by people tucking into delicious looking pizzas, burgers and other delicacies filled me with food envy, while planning a meal out myself proved to be a similarly arduous, endless and often fruitless stream of google searches. Hunting for dedicated, gluten free restaurants just to re-encounter old favourites seemed like excessive hassle.

Whilst many restaurants have begun to introduce gluten free options, to me the obvious, most affordable alternative has been to become more adventurous with my own cooking. It wasn’t long before I realised that gluten intolerance was more common than I originally thought. I soon discovered that almost every supermarket stocks an aisle of ‘free from’ alternatives. Incorporating gluten free breads, flours, oats, biscuits, cakes and a multitude of other options, has allowed me to recover satisfaction in my diet; while researching and experimenting with gluten free recipes has also led me to discover a number of other tips. For example, the often dense, dry textures of gluten free cakes and breads can be avoided by adding extra eggs or substituting standard gluten free flour with ground almonds or alternative flours.

I have also learnt that blending different flours such as rice, corn or tapioca can even improve the taste of food. To me this makes it worth the extra cost. Being gluten free doesn’t have to be a life of the fruit bowl and insipid salad options, nor does it have to be difficult.

Both this knowledge and the growing number of non-gluten recipes on the market, have enabled me to have more fun with my diet. I have also started seeking food inspiration from bloggers. I love watching Niomi Smart’s videos and learning her recipes. She and others like Deliciously Ella, make it their aim for gluten free, vegan and other types of cooking to be just as, if not more appealing than standard foods. A number of great cookbooks also show enthusiasm towards developing distinct and original gluten free cuisine. One such includes that of At Home with Simon Wood, the new publication from the winner of MasterChef 2015. Here his recipes cast a new perspective upon restricted diets, including a whole section of non-gluten meal ideas. Bursting with flavour, Simon creates a formula for gluten free eaters to enjoy good-tasting food, with not only great sophistication, but at a level of simplicity which guarantees less hassle.

I never thought I would prefer my diet now to how it used to be two years ago, but with all these factors combined, I think I have reached a point where I do.