By: Caroline Mackey, CNP, PTS, Nutrition & Fitness Coach
Gluten free foods and have become quite trendy in the past couple of years. Whether you have Celiac disease, a food sensitivity, or just find that cutting out gluten helps you feel better, there are many reasons why people go gluten free. There are a lot of misconceptions out there too. I have been on a gluten free diet for many years now, and while the plethora of gluten free options these days certainly makes things easier, it can also be a nutritional misstep to rely on some of those foods.
What is gluten?
An infamous Jimmy Kimmel video shows people being asked about gluten and why they eat gluten-free; most don’t really understand what it is. Gluten is a protein found in foods processed from wheat, barley or rye. It provides bread with the chewy consistency, and helps dough rise and provide an elastic texture. ¹ For those people who are sensitive to gluten, when eaten it causes an inflammatory response in the body. This inflammatory response then often interferes with nutrient absorption. Those with sensitivities also often find that gluten-containing foods cause them bloating, gas and general feelings of digestive discomfort when eaten. Other common issues are constipation and diarrhea, weight loss and fatigue. I personally discovered when I went off gluten just how much it was affecting my sleep. Within a few days, I was waking up feeling so much more well rested. I had no idea just how hard gluten was on my system.
When going gluten-free it’s best to follow a whole foods diets rich in complex carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables), good sources of protein, and good fats. Quinoa, whole grain brown rice and sweet potato are good sources of starch. Your plate should be ½ vegetables, ¼ protein, and ¼ starch or starchy vegetables, along with 1 tablespoon of good fat (olive oil, flax seeds, nuts) or ½ avocado. Purchasing gluten free products can be tricky. Gluten free does not necessarily mean healthy. Often gluten free products are full of fake and refined ingredients, and lots of sugar. Look at the labels: you want whole foods you can easily pronounce, with a simple list of ingredients, or it’s best to stay away from those products.
To learn much more about the effects of gluten on the body, how to eat a healthy gluten free diet, and have some delicious gluten free food from the wonderful Feast, join us next Monday at 6pm at the clinic for our gluten-free workshop!