PART 2: When Gluten Free is For You
Gluten-sensitivity has been a “hot topic” over the past several years, debated and reported on everywhere:
- From the Today Show and USA Today
- To gym-room discussions between the “paleo guy” and the “clean eating” guy
- And studies on the (negative) impacts of gluten on obesity, autism, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s.
Making many folks question: “Am I sensitive to gluten?”
ARE YOU? (SENSITITIVE TO GLUTEN)
Determining if you are sensitive or “intolerant” to gluten is not necessarily like diagnosing strep throat or dairy allergy.
While you can take a blood or allergy test that will tell you if you are allergic to wheat, or suggest possible sensitivities to upwards of 200 different foods, the ONLY way to really know if you are sensitive to gluten is to check in with your body.
How does your food make you feel?
In my post last week on 4 Reasons Why Gluten-Free May Not Be For You, we talked about some common side effects experienced from gluten, including:
- Skin breakouts
- Yeast infections
- Digestive disturbances
- Brain fog
- Leaky gut
- Inability to concentrate and focus
- Arthritis and popping/clicking joints
- Headaches and migraines
- Mood issues, like depression and anxiety
- Fatigue after meals with gluten
I HATE laundry lists of side effects (they sound like infomercials for prescription drugs that state, “may cause death). Nevertheless, the only way to determine if you are sensitive to gluten is to check in with your body…asses how you feel when you eat it (or shortly after).
Chances are, if gluten has been a staple in your diet for as long as you can remember, you have NO CLUE if you are sensitive to gluten or not.
For this reason, a short-term elimination diet, followed by a reintroduction can be extremely insightful into giving you a clue of where you really stand with gluten:
- Removing gluten containing foods for 30-90 days (bread, pasta, cereals, crackers, bars, oats)
- Then following it with a reintroduction of those foods gradually and repeatedly for at least 3 days in a row
Note how you feel.
Yesterday, I made the point about eliminating an apple from your diet for 30 days, then reintroducing it. Unless you are sensitive to FODMAP foods), more than likely you’ll do ok with that apple.
You could do the same thing with practically any food—eliminate then reintroduce—and simple observe how your body responds.
For example: Cut the 3-a-day Diet Coke habit, with a reintroduction, and more than likely you’ll notice the fatigue, gas or bloating you used to experience comes back (thankyou artificial sweeteners and dehydrating beverages).
Or, perhaps you’re a vegetarian—and you’ve eliminated meat for some time. Then upon reintroduction, you find you have a different kind of energy you didn’t have before (hello B-vitamins and Zinc) OR, you realize your digestive system was really deficient in hydrochloric acid in the first place (stomach acid that helps break down protein). This is the reason you felt good without meat—and all you actually need to do is boost your gut health to feel good when you eat meat, no problems.
And, cut out gluten, then reintroduce it, and you may find that your brain fog, bloating, gas or fatigue comes back. Bingo: gluten sensitivity.
WHAT TO DO
Discovering whether you are gluten-sensitive or not does NOT define YOU.
It’s funny when we humans put labels on ourselves—depending on our dietary choices and needs:
“I AM a vegetarian.”
“I AM paleo.”
“I AM gluten-free.”
“I AM a eat-whatever person.”
That being said, so you discovered you’re “gluten sensitive”…so now what?!
Eat real food.
So boring, but so true. (And “real food” does NOT mean cardboard).
Fortunately, there are TONS of delicious, nutritious and incredibly-good-for-you foods—BOTH on the perimeter of your grocery store (i.e. the real foods—like meats, fish, veggies, fruits and organic dairy) AND on the inside of the aisles (or online aisles).
In fact, now more than ever, while there are TONS of crappy, artificially-flavored, chemically, sugar filled gluten-free products on shelves…more and more real-food gluten-free options are beginning to emerge.
Here are my top picks for “convenient” gluten free foods:
Breads & Tortillas
Guiltless Superfoods sandwich breads, tortillas and pizza
Fox Hill Kitchens (buns and bagels)
Capellos Pastas (fettucini, gnocchi, lasagna)
Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles)
Butternut Squash Nootles
Crackers & Chips
Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips (not crackers, but great with guacamole!!)
Pepperoni “Chips” (toaster oven at 400-degrees-toast nitrate free pepperonis for 10 minutes, flipping half way)
The best ones are homemade!
Join me tomorrow for Part 3 of the Gluten Free For You Series: “Gluten-Free or Disordered Eating: How to know where you stand?”
FREE THRIVE KICKSTARTER GUIDE
Get a taste of what Thrive is all about with the Free 7-Day Thrive in Life Kickstart Guide when you join Thrive’s inner circle.