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What You Should Know About Eating Gluten-Free

Ditch the Gluten & Grain

Have you been feeling fatigued? Has your stomach been angry? Have you seen a doctor about this problem, yet he found nothing irregular with your test results?

The answer could be in your food.

I started having trouble with my digestive system in college. There were days that my stomach seemed to have a mind of its own. My arms would also go numb from intense migraines and the brain fog was so bad that I couldn’t remember words.

There wasn’t a miracle pill to treat this issue. The doctors didn’t have an answer. I was left with odd symptoms and no solution.

Several years later, it was time for a change and I started looking at the foods we were eating. I began a “food elimination diet” and cut out wheat products for an entire week; which includes food like pasta, bread, flour, and more.

The results were staggering and I haven’t looked back since discovering an intolerance to wheat. The bloating cleared up and my digestion became regular for the first time in years.

As I started shopping for wheat-free food items, I noticed brands and companies adding allergy warnings or “gluten free” to their labeling and nutritional facts. Was there a new food epidemic sweeping the nation? What was causing so many Americans to become wheat intolerant?

I decided to dig a little deeper and really understand where our food was coming from. My husband and I watched a documentary called Hungry For Change – which has changed my view on what we eat and how food is produced.

Even if you aren’t completely on board with a gluten free diet, it’s important to at least eat it in moderation. The problem with wheat products today is that they have been genetically modified in order to produce mass quantities.

According to a Hungry for Change article, fifty years ago the wheat grain consisted of 5% gluten (the protein) and today the manufactured crop contains 50% gluten. Plain and simple – our bodies were not designed to handle that much gluten. When we consume too much gluten it can create digestive problems and could lead to more serious issues down the road.

You might have some questions about gluten and what it even means to eat gluten-free. Here are some questions and answers for everything you should know.

Gluten-Free – Q & A

Q: What is “Gluten” anyway?
A: Gluten is a form of “storage proteins” found in wheat, barley, and rye.

Q: What can I eat on a gluten-free diet?
A: Personally, I do not find it difficult to eat gluten-free, but it does take adjustments in your lifestyle. Some items that are safe to eat on a gluten-free diet include white rice, potatoes, hummus, raw vegetables, raw fruits, some corn products, and meats without breading and more.

Q: My friend lost 10 pounds by cutting wheat products from their diet. Will I lose weight by cutting out wheat and gluten?
A: Results will vary from person to person. You can obtain the best results by eating gluten free if you also eat less carbs and exercise regularly.

Q: Is it true that gluten can raise your blood sugar?
A: According to the book “Wheat Belly“, by Dr. William Davis, a complex carbohydrate called amylopectin is rapidly converted to glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream. The efficient digestion of amylose is mainly responsible for wheat’s blood-sugar-spiking effect. High glucose peaks are followed by low glucose dips – which can actually lead to eating more in order to satisfy your hunger. The book says, “Eating two slices of whole wheat bread is really little different, and often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar.”

Q: What is the difference between eating gluten-free and vegan?
A: These are quite different but I’ve had a lot of people ask me this question. Though both can mean a significant lifestyle change, vegans can be different than individuals that eat gluten-free. A vegan does not eat or use anything that is of animal origin – this includes food, clothing, and other products. It can be for ethical, environmental or health reasons. Gluten-free is simply the removal of gluten from your diet.

Q: I love baking. How can I substitute “all-purpose flour” while eating a gluten-free diet?
A: According to Women’s Health Magazine, there are several healthy alternatives to traditional flour. Eating wheat-free doesn’t mean that you can’t bake cookies or muffins. Check out their suggestions on “5 Delicious Flour Alternatives“.

Q: What should I look for under ingredients or nutritional information when it comes to wheat or gluten?
A: Some brands or companies have hidden wheat under the terms “malt” or “hydrolyzed vegetable protein”. Oats may also cause similar symptoms to gluten-intolerance even though it doesn’t contain gluten.

Q: Can I still go out to eat? What do I order?
A: Though it can be a challenge at first, eating at a restaurant is still possible on a wheat-free diet. Some restaurants offer gluten-free options, while others simply ask that you explain your dietary needs. I will always ask if a sauce or meat includes flour or breading – if so, I’m usually prepared with a back-up choice. Since the restaurant is there to serve you, make it known that you cannot eat wheat and kindly ask if they’re able to make the dish without it. I always order vinaigrette with my salad, just in case, but often forget to ask them to remove croutons.

Q: Be honest, how terrible does the gluten-free bread and pasta taste?
A: Truthfully, it’s not that bad. People are always curious if I miss eating bread, but I can’t miss it with the constantly evolving selection of tasty wheat-free breads. I have always loved pasta and actually prefer gluten-free pasta to the regular kind. You may want to start by trying Udi’s or Rudi’s bread, as it’s softer than most brands and could make the transition easier. I would also recommend trying Tinkyada Rice Pasta.

Q: Is it healthier to eat gluten-free?
A: Eating gluten free does not necessarily mean that a food is more natural, healthful or lower in calories. A truly healthy diet includes fresh produce, natural proteins and vitamins.

Gluten and grain aren’t the only food sources that we should be cautious about. The food industry concocted a variety of preservatives, additives and artificial sweeteners in order to keep food on the shelves from spoiling. Consuming unnatural food ingredients over time can also lead to unusual health concerns.

When shopping for food in the grocery store – pay close attention to the nutritional information and the ingredients. My rule of thumb is if I can’t pronounce it, I don’t eat it.

Please feel free to add your comments or questions below. We are happy to answer them!

Check out Laura’s related post – “Could You Be at Risk for Metabolic Syndrome?

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