So you’re going gluten-free? There are many reasons to do so, however I don’t recommend this diet change as a one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re looking to lose weight or improve your overall health, there are no guarantees that choosing gluten-free products will help you out. However, if you are experiencing digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, or constipation, changing your diet can be a real help.
Recent research shows a gluten-free diet is beneficial for those with IBS and IBD in addition to those with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an allergy to gluten, so that means all gluten containing grains including wheat, rye, and barely should be eliminated from the diet. With IBS, IBD, and gluten-intolerance, people can tolerate some gluten in varying amounts since there isn’t an allergy. Check out this article for more on the difference between an allergy and an intolerance.
I work with clients that have a range of digestive concerns. Almost all are encouraged to trial a gluten-free diet (after screening for celiac disease) for two months to assess if these foods are triggers for their symptoms. In most clients, reducing foods with gluten to once per day or eliminating completely can help to reduce their overall symptoms, and get them feeling great again. After an elimination diet of about 4 to 8 weeks, we add trigger foods back in to see what is tolerated and what is not.
If you are suffering from digestive distress, you may want to consider going gluten-free. I highly recommend working with a digestive dietitian who specializes in the Low FODMAP Diet, gluten-free diet, and other strategies for improving digestive health.
Reading Labels: Gluten Containing Ingredients
When you’re reading food labels to determine whether a product contains gluten, there are a few ingredients you should be on the lookout for that you might not realize contain gluten:
- Rye, barley, triticale, spelt, kamut, farro/faro
- Semolina, couscous
- Brewer’s yeast
- Malt, malt extract, malt flavouring, malt vinegar
In addition, be mindful of these food products that may also contain gluten:
- Cereal, oatmeal, granola, nut mixes
- Croutons, breadcrumbs,
- Condiments such as salad dressings, BBQ sauces, and soy sauce
Gluten Free Alternatives
Ok, so you know what NOT to eat. What DO you eat if you’re going to try gluten-free? Sticking to real, whole food as much as possible is important. You can include all your usual wonderful foods like vegetables, fruits, protein foods like chicken, turkey, tofu, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, dairy and dairy alternatives. Where the problem arises is the common carbs we sometimes rely a little too heavily on.
If you are looking for a sandwich try Udi’s gluten-free bread. It’s the airiest, fluffiest gluten-free bread on the market and will do you well with sandwiches, toast, and in recipes like stuffing or French toast.
If you’re looking for pizza try Udi’s gluten-free pizza crust which are another favourite of mine. They come two in a pack, keep well in the freezer, and can get you a pizza on the table in under 20 minutes. Make sure you add a side salad to balance out the meal.
If you are looking for a special, not-so-healthy, treat, most pizza restaurants are providing a gluten-free crust, but beware they are not all good! My favourite is the gluten-free crust they have at Boston Pizza – fluffy and delicious!
The biggest thing with going gluten-free is making sure you have enough options so that you can still eat healthy. You may need to work a little harder at meal planning and find a few new markets and stores for ingredients. Remember to focus on real food and to include naturally gluten-free foods like rice, risotto, Thai noodle bowls (with rice noodles), polenta, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, and quinoa. In addition, get yourself a few gluten-free alternatives so when you need a bagel, pizza, or granola bar, you’ve got it covered!
For more suggestions, check out my Pinterest board of low FODMAP staples. These are my favourite gluten-free products!
Much love & good eating,