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Do you know the best way to follow a gluten free diet?

As I stroll through the grocery store, I see more and more foods that are labelled gluten free.   Since my daughter is gluten intolerant, I see this as a good thing for the most part.   Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale. It’s often used as a food additive as a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often called “dextrin”. When you hear of someone who cannot have gluten, they are generally either gluten intolerant or have Celiac’s disease.  Gluten can cause irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, tingling, fatigue, muscle pain, skin rashes, joint pain, and other symptoms.

Gluten Free Diet

Like any other diet, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.  Not all products that are labelled gluten free are actually good for you.  Many gluten free products have added fat and sugar to make up for the taste and texture difference that occurs when you remove the gluten.  Take a look at this meal:

2 poached eggs, 2 strips of bacon, 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 slices of traditional white bread

The 2 slices of traditional white bread have 145 calories in them and 1.6 grams of fat.

Now compare it to this meal:

2 poached eggs, 2 strips of bacon, 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 slices of gluten free bread (French Meadow Multi-grain bread)

The 2 slices of gluten free bread have 300 calories and 9 grams of fat.

You can see that consistently replacing traditional baked goods with gluten free baked goods can be a problem if you’re not careful.

Consider this breakfast instead:

2 poached eggs, 2 strips of bacon, one cup of gluten free oatmeal with sliced strawberries

One cup of oatmeal has 147 calories and 2.3 grams of fat.   A cup of strawberries has 46 calories and no fat.

Choosing foods that are naturally gluten free will most of the time result in less fat and calories than purchasing boxed mixes and pre-made gluten free baked goods.

There are also many products that fall into the junk food category that are gluten free. While you can certainly be gluten free eating potato chips and candy bars instead of a cookie, it won’t be the healthy way to remove gluten from your diet.  A better way would be to substitute something naturally gluten free like fruit, cheese, vegetable sticks, nuts, or yogurt instead.

If you need to remove gluten from your diet, it is far better (health wise) to search out naturally gluten free products rather than purchasing products that have been processed to remove the gluten.  It’s certainly alright to splurge occasionally on processed gluten free food but relying on them too heavily can be unhealthy and result in weight gain. Have you tried to follow a gluten free diet? What’s your biggest challenge?

 

About Ellen Christian

Ellen is a busy mom of two teenagers who left the corporate world in 2008 to focus on a more eco-friendly life. She lives in rural Vermont where she juggles family, two blogs and a career in social media.

Comments

  1. I’m lactose and found this post very informative. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You made some good points. Amazing how sometimes the “healthier” choice isn’t.

  3. I think my hardest challenge is availability…. I would need to go to several stores to get the items I need.  Grocery stores are stepping up to the plate and carrying more gf products.  However, it would be really nice if they actually carried as much variety as they do for other non-gf goods.  The stores that do carry a decent selection are very far from me :(  

    I think that the hardest part for me is that I’ve had to learn how to cook from scratch.  I don’t like spending hours preparing a meal.  You get so used to convenience foods, which are bad for you (gluten free ones included!) that it seems like so much effort to actually prepare a meal from fresh ingredients.   A lot of gluten free recipes are not things I’d eat either.  I need a finicky eater cookbook!

  4. I could never go on a gluten free diet.  I love breads too much.

  5. gingermommy says:

    Thanks for this. Gluten free is still new to me, but I love to learn about it 

  6. Very informative.  I had no idea that some of the gluten free products were not naturally so.

  7. Thanks for this informative post! I didn’t know much about gluten-free foods but I have a better idea now.

  8. I’m not gluten free but I imagine it would be very challenging…I never even thought about the fact that calories might not be equivalent…thanks for the info

  9. Thanks for the tips, we have been looking to change our diet as a family but with so many of us be picky eaters it has been hard. I did not know that not all gluten free foods where not super healthy! Good to know!

  10. We have a really good selection of gluten free foods in our grocery store but I think the easiest thing to do is choose the simplest foods…fruit, veggies, meat…all gluten free naturally!

  11. you’ve got some good advice! i have been thinking of going gluten free

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