Gluten-free product sales have doubled in the past few years and are now at an estimated $23 billion per year! It’s a huge market, but it could lead you down the wrong path. BIG FOOD has figured out how to ride this trend and is creating products left and right – some good, most of them bad. Are you eating any convenient gluten-free replacements for the baked goods that you used to love?? Or are you trying to eat gluten-free to lose weight? If you are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease, I realize you may have to buy a loaf of gluten-free bread or crackers but not all gluten-free products are created equal or healthy! I’ve got tips for you at the end of this post that will help you keep a gluten-free lifestyle in a healthy way and give you the kick in the pants to get rid of that gluten-free junk food once and for all. But first, let’s do a reality check.
Common pitfall of the gluten-free diet: Gaining Weight
You may not realize that a gluten-free diet is not designed to help you lose weight. It’s a specific diet for people who either have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or an allergy. When people with celiac disease start a gluten-free diet, their digestion greatly improves over time and it’s common for them to gain some weight. This is healthy for them, and means that they are healing. So, it’s considered normal for some people to gain weight on a gluten-free diet. Another reason some people gain weight (or too much weight) on a gluten-free diet is because they aren’t choosing the right kinds of foods and this is what this post is about.
If you’re picking up gluten-free hamburger buns, breads, and pizza crusts – you might be in for a BIG surprise.
Sure, if you’re doing it right and eating whole and unprocessed gluten-free foods, you will likely lose weight. But the popularity of the gluten-free diet has given rise to an industry of gluten-free convenience foods that contain questionable additives, added sugar, nutrient-empty ingredients and the majority of them are not organic!
Overall, the gluten-free specialty food aisle contains some of the most heavily processed food in the grocery store that won’t do your body any favors.
Besides gaining weight and putting yourself at risk for several diseases, you may become nutrient deficient. When you continually eat these processed ingredients you can become deficient in several vitamins, minerals and fiber. Without the nutrients that you need to feel your best, you are really setting yourself up for failure.
So, what are you supposed to eat if you are on a gluten-free diet?
You probably already know what I’m about to say… But here’s the kick in the pants that you may need:
Simply stop buying processed gluten-free replacement foods that can sabotage your health and fill your diet with healthy whole foods (vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds, lentils, nuts) that nourish your body.
Tips for eating healthy on a gluten-free diet:
Instead of using a gluten-free tortilla, make a wrap out of collard greens. The individual leaves can be blanched to take on the texture of a tortilla, and they are way healthier too! Another good option are coconut and vegetable based wraps.
Choose pastas that are made from lentils or beans, like these ones from Tolerant Pasta– or make your own “noodles” out of spaghetti squash and zucchini (using a spiralizer like this).
Substitute sprouted quinoa for rice when making stir-fry’s and other dishes that are typically served over rice.
Use baking recipes that primarily call for flours with healthy nutrients such as coconut flour, almond meal, buckwheat flour, quinoa flour, chickpea flour, teff flour or sorghum flour. Sometimes these are mixed with a bit of tapioca flour for texture, just make sure you are using nutritious flours as well. If you can’t bake your own bread, seek out store-bought breads that are made from nutrient-rich grains.
Make pizza crusts from cauliflower. Sounds crazy, right? But cauliflower blends up with goat cheese and eggs into a great dough for pizza that’s packed with nutrients. Cauliflower also can be blended up in a food processor into “rice” that you just saute for a few minutes to make the perfect rice substitute.
Instead of dipping packaged crackers into hummus, make our homemade Hummus. If you want to add crispy store-bought chips or crackers, Brad’s Raw Chips are some of my fave chips out there. I’m also a fan of Mary’s Gone crackers (they grow their rice in California where arsenic levels are lower, and contain no refined flours or sugars).
Last but not least… Eat more produce! Fruit, veggies, beans and salad greens are all naturally gluten-free, so don’t be afraid to try new ones every week until you find your favorites.
Do you know someone on a gluten-free diet that needs this information and survival guide? Then please share it with them. Sharing this information is so critical to sending a message to the food industry that we want more nutritious gluten-free products.
By: Vani Hari Food Babe