Should I Be Gluten-Free?
These days almost everyone seems to be talking about gluten. There are as many gluten-free items in the stores as there are gluten containing items. So, what’s all the hullabaloo and should you pay attention? The answer is…it depends.
Let’s start at the beginning. What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein molecule that is found in three grains. Wheat, barley, and rye. It can be confusing but spelt, kaput, faro, and semolina come from wheat.
The most obvious gluten containing products include: bread, pasta, crackers, cereal, cookies, donuts, noodles, pizza and cakes. The less obvious products include croutons, flour tortillas, battered and fried foods. Then there are the sneaky products such as sauces, deli-meats, soups, dips, and salad dressings.
So at first glance it may appear to be relatively easy to avoid gluten if you are following a fresh, whole food diet. Chances are that you will still be exposed to gluten unless you become a super label reader and double check that the label says gluten free.
People who have been diagnosed with celiac disease have to take extra careful precautions to avoid contamination with even the tiniest amount of gluten. I work with many celiac patients and special direction is required to avoid contamination for them.
If you are in good health and don’t have any symptoms that are making you feel tired or sick, then you can probably get away with eating some gluten.
If you are not in perfect health, have a diagnosis or two, take prescription medications, or have symptoms that are making you feel uncomfortable and sick then perhaps avoiding gluten is a good idea.
If someone is struggling with immune, auto-immune or a thyroid condition I recommend avoiding gluten.
And avoiding gluten is always recommended if you or an immediate family member has been diagnosed with celiac disease (an auto-immune allergy to gluten.)
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is often overlooked as a potential root cause for conditions such as inflammation, Irritable bowel syndrome, joint pain, multiple sclerosis, eczema, and fatigue.
Here’s what you should know if you want to avoid gluten or start eating “gluten-lite”-
There are NO health risks in avoiding gluten.
In fact, if you’re like tens of thousands of others avoiding gluten will most likely enhance your overall health.
So, here’s the caveat, if you stop eating all gluten and then 6 months from now you want to get tested for a gluten allergy, intolerance or celiac disease Avoiding gluten could prevent you from getting an accurate diagnosis.
You must be eating gluten in-order to get accurate test results. How much gluten do you need to eat and for how long? The latest studies suggest the equivalent of ¾ of a slice of wheat bread daily for 6 weeks.
Perhaps you have some health challenges and you want to see if avoiding gluten will enhance your health where do you start?
You might be thinking no pizza? No pasta? No bread? Hey, I get it I’m from an east coast Italian family. I moved west to find my own way and re-build my health. Along that journey I figured out that pasta, Italian bread and cheese weren’t doing me any favors. At the beginning, it may seem like a sacrifice but as you re-gain your energy, your clarity of mind, and your health. The pay-off is worth it.
Chin-up I’m here to help you make this transition easier.
You may want to go completely gluten-free or you may just want to go “Gluten-lite”…
Here are my 5 favorite ways to cut back on gluten consumption:
1. Eating out? Take control of the Destination.
When you choose the restaurant, you know what the food options are. I encourage my patients to review menus online ahead of time. Many restaurants have a few items on their regular menu that are marked as “gluten-free” (it will have a *GF symbol). Asking for a gluten-free item avoids uncomfortable social situations and prevents the server from making a mistake on your order.
2.Increase Your Vegetable Intake
Do you know that the average American only eats vegetables with dinner? You should be eating 2-3 servings of vegetables at each meal. Fill up your plate with all different colored veggies. You will be so busy chewing you won’t notice that the bread isn’t there. Here are some other ideas:
Lettuce wrap your burger and get a side salad in place of fries.
Order a salad or a rice or quinoa bowl in place of a sandwich.
Try zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash as a spaghetti replacement.
3.Eat Resistant Starch
Dropping the gluten doesn’t mean cutting out all the carbs. There is an extremely medicinal group of starches called resistant starch. These can be easily substituted in place of gluten-containing products and are health promoting. Resistant starches include; Beans, Lentils, Peas, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Winter Squash, Rice, and Quinoa.
Resistant starches resist digestive conversion to quick sugars. They promote energy, stabilize blood sugar and support healthy digestive flora.
4.Watch out for Gluten-Free Substitutes
Just because it says gluten-free doesn’t mean that it’s healthy. Most gluten-free labeled foods are processed. The goal is to eat fresh, whole food to regain your health. If you replace all of your gluten with processed gluten free products, you won’t regain your health.
A gluten-free chocolate cake is still a cake.
For Recipes and Ideas Check out my Cookbook Feed Your Cells – 7 Ways to make Food, Fast, Easy, and Gluten Free – Available on Amazon.
5.Plan Ahead with Healthy Snacks
Fresh is best, Apples, bananas, berries, celery sticks, carrots, cucumber slices with guacamole, nuts, nut butters, GF protein bars, dark chocolate. I always have at least two snacks in my purse at all times. This is your safety rope for when your blood sugar crashes and you are on line at Costco staring at the pizza concession stand.
(This post was originally a Facebook Live video. You can watch that HERE)
Or on Youtube: