Top 5 Concerns of Going Gluten-Free

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For the past few years, the idea of gluten-free diets has become more and more common. Several restaurants are adopting gluten-free alternatives to their menus and some food companies are making gluten-free substitutes of their products easier to obtain. Despite its popularity, many people still either do not understand what gluten is exactly or have little-to-no understanding of how a gluten-free diet can be useful to your health. Natalie Jill, a Master Licensed Sports Nutritionist and personal trainer, has used her expertise and her own personal experiences to help others with their complicated health and weight-loss strategies. Natalie was diagnosed with Celiac Sprue more than 14 years ago and has successfully maintained a gluten-free diet. She is here to give you 5 reasons why a gluten-free diet should not be something to be concerned about but something to be embraced.

5 Processed Foods

The Concern: Eating gluten-free is very hard to do and can be unhealthy.

The Reality: Eating gluten-free is actually a natural way to eat and is simple to do if you stick to foods that are naturally free of gluten. Think REAL food. Focus on natural foods that once grew. Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is the easiest way to do this. Think fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, chicken, meats, eggs, dairy, potatoes, rice, etc. If it is not processed it is not only natural but it is also gluten-free. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley; and it is found in MANY processed foods. When you eat unprocessed foods, you are less likely to find any gluten and you are avoiding the high sodium levels, preservatives and additives included in most processed foods.

If you want to eat treats that typically contain gluten such as muffins, cookies, pasta and breads, you can STILL do that. With gluten-free diets gaining popularity, gluten-free products are on the rise, MANY stores and restaurants now have gluten-free products and menus. When dining out, select menu items that look like they are likely gluten-free and then ask the server to check with the chef to confirm the recipe actually is gluten-free. Most restaurants are very accommodating of this request.

4 Nutrients

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The Concern: Eating gluten-free will make me deficient in certain vitamins and minerals and I won’t get enough fiber.

The Reality: This is absolutely not true. You do not need wheat, rye or barley to live a healthy life. By eating an unprocessed food diet (the best way to go gluten-free) you will be eating more fruits, vegetables and real food. Fruits and vegetables in their natural state are gluten-free and many contain decent amounts of fiber. Grains, brown rice, corn, oatmeal, quinoa, potatoes and yams are also some gluten-free choices. Just make sure you look for the “gluten-free” label to avoid cross contamination.

3 Feeling Good

The Concern: I won’t feel good eating gluten-free.

The Reality: For many people, going gluten-free means eliminating a lot of bloating and gas. Although only a very small percentage of the population are celiacs (an auto immune disease where you cannot have gluten), there are many more that are gluten intolerant. These intolerances can cause symptoms like bloating, gas and painful stomach aches. By eliminating gluten from your diet, many symptoms like bloating and gas typically disappear. Also, when sticking to a gluten free unprocessed food diet, energy levels tend to increase while accompanying a loss in excess body fat.

2 Health Concerns

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The concern: I have a health issue and I am worried that I will feel worse depriving myself of gluten.

The Reality: Eating gluten-free can eliminate symptoms from injury and disease as well as play a preventative role. All auto-immune diseases can greatly benefit from adhering to a gluten-free diet. Eating a natural unprocessed food diet that is gluten-free by nature helps reduce and prevent inflammation.

1 Weight Gain

The Concern: You will gain weight going on a gluten-free diet.

The Reality: If you stick to a naturally gluten-free diet, this typically is not an issue. If you choose a gluten free PROCESSED food diet then YES you can gain weight. The reason is that gluten-free baked products are typically MORE fattening and higher in calories than non-gluten-free baked products. Here is why: When wheat flour (which is lower on the glycemic index and higher in fiber) is replaced with low fiber, higher glycemic flours such as corn, potato and rice flours, the sugar and calorie content goes up! This not only adds calories but makes the absorption rate into your blood stream very rapid. When this happens, your body reacts by creating an insulin spike which in turn will make you hungrier and ultimately heavier—YIKES!

When eating gluten-free, it is BEST to stick with whole foods such as rice, whole sweet potatoes, yams, gluten-free oatmeal or quinoa versus the baked goods. If you must indulge with pancakes, waffles, muffins etc… don’t assume that the gluten-free varieties are healthier for you and will help with weight loss. Instead of buying the pre-packaged ready-made frozen gluten-free items and baked goods, make them yourself from scratch adding higher fiber foods such as oatmeal to the flour. If you do not have time to make these from scratch use ½ of a gluten-free mix and substitute the other ½ with oatmeal. Using oatmeal in the mix will lower the glycemic index, slow down the absorption into your blood stream, and control the release of insulin minimizing the spike. You can lose weight by going on a gluten free diet if you chose natural, unprocessed foods which are naturally gluten-free. Think meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts (basically, if it once grew it is unprocessed, natural and gluten-free). If it had to be processed it is not. Wheat cannot be eaten in its natural state; it has to be processed, just like most packaged foods, sauces, etc.

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