Skip the gluten and lose the weight. Are gluten free diets the latest celebrity craze for weight loss or only for individuals with gluten intolerances and celiac disease or is it a really legitimate approach to weight loss? In the midst of the gluten free dieting, the annual sales of gluten free products has surpassed $2 billion annual sales revenue. It can be overwhelming to decipher what gluten free products are healthiest and weight loss worthy.
Let’s start with the basics: gluten is the protein found in wheat and most grains, such as rye and barley. It can cause stomach issues, cramping, bowel pain, malabsorption, deficiency in nutrients, and has also been linked to headaches, adrenal overload, fatigue, arthritis-like symptoms, inflammation and mental fogginess. Eating too much gluten has been linked to pre-diabetic, diabetic, heart disease, high cholesterol, joint pain, and allergic dermatitis because most people are consuming highly processed foods. Switching to a gluten free diet can be very healthy along with having long-term health benefits. The key is to make sure the gluten free diet is incorporating balanced meals with a wide array of nutrients as opposed to gluten free processed foods. Here is some advice to help you along in the process.
By incorporating a healthy gluten-free diet, you are eliminating fried foods, many sugary desserts, and processed foods that are full of gluten, chemicals, unhealthy oils, carbohydrates, artificial flavors and dyes. These foods are high in calories and low in nutrients! Instead, incorporate fresh foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean grass-fed, grass-finished meats, low mercury fish, legumes, nuts, healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil and avocados.
Incorporating fresh foods into your meal planning will fill you up, but adding too many gluten free processed products can add to weight gain just like gluten processed products. So remember to add complex carbohydrates such as green leafy vegetables since they tend to fill you up with nutrients and assist with weight management.
Buyer Beware: Gluten-free products do not always = healthy, weight loss choices. Making the switch to gluten-free diet regime requires a learning curve as you determine which gluten free foods are healthiest. Some gluten free processed foods are high in carbohydrates, sugar and fat. Just be aware that most gluten free products contain either corn starch, rice starch, tapioca or potato flours or starch and these ingredients increase blood sugars and can attribute to abdomen weight gain. Read the labels and ask yourself what is this food product going to do for my body, skin, hair, energy level, etc.
Keeping a food journal, recipes, weekly meal plans and food shopping list will keep you organized and assist in making the transition to gluten free diet easier. You will be able to track the meals you enjoy the most and also identify if you are falling into a ‘food rut’. You need to keep the meals exciting and full of flavor. You can purchase a gluten free cookbook or google for recipes.
Before making any major lifestyle change, you should seek the advice of an experienced practitioner who can guide you with the learning curve, transition and make sure your meals are balanced and provide the necessary nutrients, minerals, vitamins and calories for your body type and health condition.
Many gluten free processed foods can spike your blood sugar levels, and pack on the pounds. Best to eat a balanced meal of fresh, organic foods that are not processed.
Many restaurants are offering gluten free menu options but you still need to ‘quiz’ them. Speaking from first-hand experience, the following examples are being shared: the staff may think their french fries are gluten free but they use the same oil that they dip the gluten chicken tenders in, therefore causing cross contamination. If they offer gluten free pasta, you want to check if they are cooking it in water that just made gluten pasta. When a salad was offered on a gluten free menu and it came out with croutons or bread sticks on it, I inquired if the croutons/bread sticks were gluten free and they were not. Sorbet that was supposedly gluten free had a fancy decorative swirl on the plate that was thickened with gluten. You can check glutenfreerestaurants.org for a list of restatuants that supposedly are gluten-free and hopefully the staff is very well versed on the topic.
This is usually the number one weight gain problem with gluten free diets. Some will replace all their processed foods full of gluten with ones that are gluten free but still processed. These foods tend to be high in carbohydrates, calories, sugar, oils and turn into fat.
Be positive and take this challenge head on with a positive attitude. Enjoy the journey as you discover new foods, new cooking techniques and renewed health. You are in charge of your eating regime. Your health is important.
Being prepared is the most important aspect. We never leave home without food in the car, knapsack, bag, or jacket. You want to avoid getting hungry and find yourself with no food options. When traveling, taking a road trip, boarding a plane or just going to a ball game, you need to bring foods that you can eat.
Starting a gluten free diet can be overwhelming at first. Once you learn how to incorporate healthy meals then it will get easier. Gluten free diets can be a very healthy lifestyle and is not a fad diet! It can enrich your health and may increase your energy levels to accomplish more. Your health is worth it because you are worth it.
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Photo Credits: Gluten Free Scan by Flickr: mandiberg; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com