It seems today that a lot more of us are enjoying the benefits of incorporating gluten alternatives into our diet. Whether this is because of a food sensitivity, allergy, or personal choice, paleo recipes and gluten-free products have been popping up all over social media and in our grocery stores.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat and other grains such as barley and rye. It’s what gives dough elasticity and that chewy texture and allows it to rise and keep shape. It’s perfectly natural and some people may not have any issues incorporating it into a healthy balanced diet.
When people with celiac disease consume gluten, they experience a wide variety of gastrointestinal problems that can lead to serious damage of internal organs if not taken care of. There are many gluten sensitivities that non-celiac people suffer from also, including bloating, weight gain, fatigue, headaches and more; however, gluten may not be the only culprit in some of these situations. Food such as white bread, pasta, and rice are made with refined grains and added sugar, which lead to similar health issues. If you have no allergy and want to eat gluten then choosing whole grains is your best decision. Whole grains are unrefined and contain fibre and additional nutrients.
When exploring gluten alternatives, it is important to remember that our goal is not to eliminate carbohydrates. Often people relate gluten directly to carbs and seek a low or no carb meal plan, without realizing that vegetables themselves are, in fact, carbs! It is a common misconception that carbs lead to weight gain. If chosen properly they can give you many benefits, carbohydrates provide us with energy. They are full of fibre which is essential for weight loss, controlling muscle tones, improving immunity and lowering cholesterol.
Is Gluten Free Right For Me?
If your doctor has diagnosed you with celiac disease avoiding gluten and exploring a paleo diet is crucial; however, if you are not a celiac but feel that trying a gluten free meal plan would benefit you, then go for it. Steer clear from “Gluten-Free” stamped products. Just because an item is marked GF that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s now 100% healthy for you. A lot of those products are still high in calories, and are made with sugars, starches, and flours that lead our bodies down the wrong track. Seek out gluten alternatives from fresh, unprocessed food.
My favourite benefit of enjoying paleo meals is that I often replace my gluten option with another vegetable. So I’m getting more fibre, more nutrients and a better source of carbohydrates. If you are wanting to try going gluten free, start a food journal complete with how your body feels and performs after each meal, take your measurements and log any changes. Trying new things in the kitchen, whether it’s paleo, vegetarian, vegan or sugar free is a great way to explore what works for your body and your fitness goals.
Article written by Frankie Monhay, nutrition coach and personal trainer at Richmond World Health. For meal ideas, check out these Holistic Nutrition recipes or schedule an appointment with a World Health Nutrition Coach.