Intro to Gluten and Eating Gluten Free – Part II

Best Ab Exercises - Gluten Free

 

“If you really want something you will find a way, if not you will find an excuse”  – Jim Ron

 

In my last post, ‘Intro to Gluten and Eating Gluten Free’, I looked at how gluten effects the body and why eliminating it from our diet can make us feel & look happier, healthier and slimmer.

 

In this post I’m going to delve a bit further into the ‘Gluten-Free’ topic and address some of the major excuses and pitfalls that come up when people try to make the switch to a gluten free diet.

 

1. Its Inconvenient and/or Time Consuming

There’s no getting around the fact that committing to a gluten-free (or reduced gluten) diet will require some adjusting. The average Canadian gets  approximately 20% of their calories from wheat-based sources (breads, cereals, pastas etc), most of which contain high levels of gluten.

 

This means that removing gluten from the diet can be a pain in the…well you know…and the task can seem daunting. However, I want you to take a second and think back to my last post <insert link here>; in particular the list ofsymptoms/side-effects commonly associated with consuming gluten…

 

  • Diarrhea, cramping, bloating, fatigue, excessive visceral fat (abdominal fat) etc

 

…doesn’t sound like much fun does it?

 

So yes, removing gluten will tak  some work and undoubtedly feel little overwhelming at first, but in the end it can be so worth it. And we shouldn’t think it as as an all-or-nothing ‘diet’ or quick-fix that we follow for a few months and magically solves our problems instead we need to look at is as a ‘lifestyle change’. What I mean by this is that we need to find something we can sustain and its ok to make the changes gradually (introduce them 1 or 2 at a time) because it can help keep us from being overwhelmed and giving up. Small changes here and there will add up, and in the end we’ll feel better (more consistent energy – fewer ‘swings’) look better (leaner waistline & less bloating) and have a reduced risk of developing chronic heart conditions

 

I don’t know how to prepare Gluten-Free Food

This is a common ‘complaint’ when people begin considering a gluten free lifestyle – the fact that they have no idea how to cook gluten-free alternatives – and its a totally understandable concern. For most of us, gluten-free wasn’t around when we learned to cook it and many of our standard ‘go-to’ meals are based a carbohydrate supplemented with protein and vegetables.

 

 e.g. pasta with chicken and vegetables, pizza topped with (insert topping of choice here) etc etc

 

The idea of a not having that ‘carb base’ feels strange, almost wrong, and can leave us unsure where to even begin. However, with a few small tweaks to how we think about food prep and ingredient adjustments here and there it can be less difficult than you think to swap in tasty, gluten-free options.

 

e.g. instead of spaghetti, & meatballs, try ‘Spaghetti’ (squash) & Meatballs

….

**For more ideas & recipes check out

 

Rather than thinking of vegetables as a ‘side’ its important to change our mindset and instead look at them as as the main dish and build upon that by adding healthy proteins (chicken, fish, beef) and fats (olive oil, avocadoes etc). Not only will this increase our daily vegetable intake (and who doesn’t need to eat more veggies?) but also decrease caloric intake (by removing higher calorie carbs). This alone can help kick start weight loss & produce faster results, and when we add the fact that we’re removing gluten (and all those nasty effects it can have on the body) it’s a win-win situation.

 

All my Favorite Foods have Gluten in them, I can’t give them up.

This is a tough one because, yes, there are certain foods that simply do not have gluten-free alternatives (or they do, but they taste disgusting). I’m not going to sugar-coat this one or pretend that there’s a magical healthy gluten-free icing topped cinnamon bun out there, there isn’t. That being said, there are a lot of healthier options that still taste pretty damn good and who knows we may even find a new favorite treat.

 

Part of the reason why we love our high-carb/high-sugar treats so much is because they’re actually physically addictive. Studies have shown that the same receptors responsible for serious drug dependencies (e.g. heroin, nicotine) also play a role in how our bodies respond to  sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods. When we eat those ‘tasty treats’ we get a rush of hormones that create a mild euphoria and we learn to turn to sugar and carbs when we want to feel good; but the more of them we eat, the more we crave the ‘hit’ and it takes more and more to get the same response (bit of a viscous cycle). This can work against us (making it harder to give carbs up) but can also work for us and this knowledge can help us ‘kick the carbohydrate habit’ because the less we eat these foods the less we will crave them

 

And that being said, its important to keep in mind that healthy eating (and living) is about sustainable changes and choices that we can actually stick to NOT quick-fix crash diets, and its also ok to have a treat now and then to keep us. Just remember that the word ‘treat’ refers to something we do/eat on special occasions NOT something that is part of your daily life.

 

“I’ve already switched to gluten free products and I haven’t seen any results.”

Ok, this is where I think a lot of people get ‘led astray’ by the whole gluten-free ‘craze’ that’s in full force right now and its something I think really needs to be addressed. As I mentioned previously, 10 years ago it was pretty uncommon to find stores and bakeries with an abundance of gluten free goodies

 

Cookies, muffins etc

 

But nowadays it’s a pretty common site. The thing is, however, it doesn’t matter if the doughnuts are made with gluten free ingrediants they are still doughnuts and gluten isn’t the only thing bad about them. Removing gluten from the diet should be about replacing high-carbohydrate, high calorie foods (e.g. breads, pastas, baked goods etc) with unprocessed, high fiber, high nutrient foods (e.g. vegetables, proteins etc) NOT about finding ways to sneak in our favorite treats by removing the gluten.

 

That isn’t to say we can’t have a gluten-free treat (or god forbid a gluten containing one) ever again, just remember everything in moderation and a treat is still a treat regardless of if it is ‘gluten free’ or not.

 

So yes, making the switch to a gluten-free (or reduced gluten) diet can be a bit overwhelming (especially at first) because it means

 

  • Planning ahead (no forgetting to pack a lunch and running to the nearest deli)
  • Relearning/adapting how we cook & prepare meals and
  • Forgoing some of our favorite foods (most of the time, a treat now and then is ok)

 

But take a moment to step back and look at the pros and cons because in the end reducing or removing gluten from our diet will

 

  • Keep our energy levels higher and more consistent
  • Help reduce gastrointestinal discomfort (bloating, cramps etc)
  • And create a leaner waistline which in turn reduces the risk of numerous chronic health conditions

 

And who doesn’t want to feel and look good?

 

If this post has you convinced, awesome! If not, or if you are still on the fence, why not challenge yourself to try it out for 30 days and make your own judgment then. Find a partner in crime to help keep you accountable, share ideas and recipes and remember that 30 days of your time is a pretty small price to pay for something that could change your life.

 

 

Taryn Haggerstone Vancouver Personal Trainer

Taryn Haggerstone is a personal trainer, CrossFit coach, Olympic lifter and CrossFit athlete in Vancouver.

Taryn Haggerstone is a personal trainer, CrossFit coach, Olympic Lifter and CrossFit athlete in Vancouver. She is also a blogger at www.gohardgetstrong.com and here at www.100-best-abexercises.com /blog

References

http://www.celiac.ca/index.php/about-celiac-disease-2/symptoms-treatment-cd/

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/06/gluten-free-diet_n_3210864.html

http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/09/20/on-the-evils-of-wheat-why-it-is-so-addictive-and-how-shunning-it-will-make-you-skinny/

http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/12/06/the-fine-print-of-gluten-free-packaged-foods/

http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/09/10/gone-gluten-free/

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