When is a Gluten Free diet healthy?
A gluten free diet can be a healthy choice and for some can be a life changer.
I know for me going gluten free meant opening up a new world - no more fatigue, better sleep, waking up with energy, no more giant swollen belly after eating and, the big one - no more depression.
These days gluten free living is getting easier and easier thanks to it's growing popularity and fame. When I first cut out gluten it was rare to find a cafe that had any GF signs on the menu, now I often am spoiled for choice.
However the growing popularity has led to some confusion. Seeing that many people have great health benefits from gluten free living some people have started to assume that anything gluten free is healthy. It is important for us to remember that the GF sign isn't a health food symbol - it is a symbol for gluten free food. The GF symbol on a cupcake does not mean we can eat one every day after lunch without gaining weight - it means that Coeliacs and Gluten Intolerant people can eat it without being "glutened" and suffering headaches, diarrhoea and flu-like symptoms.
So why do some people feel so great on a gluten free diet? And what is the right way to do it?
If a person is Coeliac or is Gluten Intolerant then cutting out gluten rids them of the associated symptoms of eating the food that their body has deemed a threat. This will often result in increased energy, improved immunity, easier weight management, and their digestive symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhoea and/or constipation will resolve - along with a host of other health improvements in some such as better mood, improved hormonal balance, better sleep, less aches and pains etc.
A person with Coeliac disease or Gluten Intolerance may feel relief from these symptoms by simply cutting gluten from the diet - whether the new diet is healthy or not. Simply the successful elimination of gluten will be enough for their body to feel significant relief. Many of these health benefits will be felt within 7-10 days of going gluten free even though the necessary repair to the digestive system may take years.
If it is a conscious choice to choose healthier, more nutrient dense foods with careful consideration towards achieving an all-round healthier diet - not just gluten free, then this can provide significant health benefits. This means not switching from cereal to gluten free cereal for example and not eating gluten free cupcakes after lunch without guilt but actually making a conscious switch to foods which are more natural and contain more health benefits. A person making this choice may switch their morning cereal for example to a spinach omelette or a smoothie made from seeds, avocado, berries and organic cocoa - both far healthier choices than the bowl of refined flour and sugar which makes up most cereals.
How to get it right:
Firstly I must disclaim that if you suspect you might have a food intolerance or allergy you should seek the advice of a professional. While it might seem tempting to just go gluten free for a while and see if you feel better, a diagnosis of Coeliacs disease is very difficult once you have given up gluten. This may not seem like an issue - if you're going gluten free who cares right? However without diagnosis your motivation may sway after a while and this could lead to real problems if you are Coeliac. If you are concerned that you may be Coeliac or gluten intolerant please email me at email@example.com.
Following diagnosis getting the gluten free diet right is simple - stick with naturally gluten free foods at least 80% of the time. Keep gluten free manufactured products to rare treats. We all eat cupcakes now and then but the reason they taste awesome is because they are loaded with sugar and that is never healthy - gluten free or not.
Example of a healthy gluten free day (actually what I ate yesterday)
Breakfast: Flourless protein pancakes
Mid-morning snack: 1banana sliced and topped with almond butter
Lunch: Grilled Salmon with steamed greens and sweet potato mash
Afternoon snack: Quinoa flour cupcake (click for recipe)
Dinner: Roasted eggplant with curried lentils, Sauteed kale and toasted pine-nuts
For personalised advice on gluten free living please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about my quick and easy food intolerance test click here.
Until next time, stay deliciously healthy.
Jennifer May Adv.Dip.Nut.Med.ATMS.MINDD