I know you’ve thought about it. Maybe you’ve highly considered it or even attempted it. Most Americans have read and learned about the negative impacts gluten can have on our health. A few quick reminders of gluten’s bad reputation include its link to more than 55 health issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, osteoporosis, and even cancer, as well as the ever-increasing prevalence of gluten-allergies amongst our population.
But don’t let me bore you with information you’ve probably read and heard more often than not. Let’s get real and get this additive out of our diets today. Often when I talk through lab interpretations or consultations with clients, I hear that they want to go gluten-free, but just don’t know how to. Below are 5 quick tips on “how” to get gluten out of you and your family’s diet starting now. You might have to break a few bad habits along the way, but I guarantee once you do get it out, you’ll never want it back in! Already a gluten-free follower? Please comment below with your best tip on going gluten-free!
Eat Real Food: If I challenge my clients to take gluten out, the first thing that pops into their heads is “what can I eat.” My simple response is always to eat real, whole natural food. Food that comes from the land (as a plant or an animal) should make up the largest foundation of our diet. Gluten is not found naturally, but in our highly processed and packaged foods. Your go to list of foods should include nuts, seeds and oils, quality protein, true whole grains, vegetables and some fruit.
Allow Yourself to Eat More: Typically when we “eliminate” a food from our diet, especially a larger category of foods such as processed, gluten-filled ones, we often feel more hungry. Make sure as you eliminate that you increase the volume of other food on your plate. A good rule of thumb is every plate should be half filled with vegetables and have at least a palm-full of healthy protein and healthy fat. The volume of gluten-filled starches we eat at one time today is pretty dramatic, often filling our plates. So make sure you bulk up the veggies and other healthy foods in place of the missing gluten.
Give Yourself a Timeline: When we want to accomplish a goal or objective, it should be a timely matter. Although the goal in this case should be lifelong, give yourself a time period to get through first so you can monitor your progress. I suggest at least three weeks. Three weeks is somewhat in the near future yet along enough where you should feel a difference and then can truly make a justified decision.
Get to Know Your “Real Whole Grains”: It still astonishes me when I hear members and other nutrition professionals list off breads, cereals and pasta when categorizing what whole grains are. There is a huge difference between foods made with whole grains and what true whole grains are. True whole grains, such as quinoa, brown and wild rice, and oats (gluten-free) are actually gluten-free because they are real and whole foods. If you are in need of a starch at meal time, gravitate towards these ones. But watch the amount you consume at a time if you are have body composition or weight loss goal.
Gluten-Free Options as Necessary: The gluten-free product lines in grocery stores have boomed! Normal gluten filled foods like crackers, breads, cereals and baked goods can now be found in a gluten-free form. Use these foods as necessary. If you aren’t ready to ditch your sandwiches (although a lettuce wrapped one is pretty good!) or pastas, at the very least utilize these products as a tool when needed. They won’t improve your waist line (typically filled with carbohydrates and refined sugar) but they are a solution when you are in dire need!
ANIKA DeCOSTER is a sports nutritionist for Life Time Fitness, the creators of the Esprit de She race series. She is experienced working with athletes of all levels to uncover metabolic issues they may be facing, along with helping those who are seeking weight management support. Anika graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stout where she earned her Registered Dietitian license. She also has an Adult Weight Management certification through ADA, a Certified Sports Nutritionist certification through the International Society of Sports Nutrition, and is a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.