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Is Gluten Free Right for Me?

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By Courtney Reynolds (@peaceofgfcake, peaceofgfcake.com)

Should I go gluten free?

The phrase “gluten free” gets a lot of attention in the current health and wellness arena—and for good reason too. Many people who have removed gluten from their diet have experienced life changing health benefits. There are many reasons why people may decide to go on a gluten free diet, some of which are: 1.) Celiac Disease, 2.) nonceliac gluten sensitivity (also called gluten intolerance), 3.) a wheat allergy, or 4) other autoimmune diseases (such as Hashimotos Thyroiditis)1,2. Celiac Disease is an immune response to gluten that causes damage to the lining of the intestines, which can lead to other serious health complications. The second reason in the list, gluten sensitivity/intolerance, is probably the most common reason you hear people remove gluten from their diet. These people experience symptoms related to the ingestion of gluten such as digestive issues (nausea, bloating, diarrhea, constipation), headaches, brain fog, and joint pain, just to name a few. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, trying a gluten free diet might be right for you.

How to go gluten free: easy steps to living gluten free.

  1. The first and most obvious (but not always easy!) step in living a gluten free life: remove ALL gluten from your diet.

Okay that’s easy, but what is gluten found in? Gluten is protein found in some grains such as wheat, barely, and rye. So any foods including these big three must be avoided. A big misconception I found throughout the years is that you must avoid all grains when going gluten free (this is called a paleo diet and can be very beneficial for some). These are the gluten free grains you can include in your diet: rice (white and brown), quinoa, cornmeal, millet, buckwheat, and amaranth. Many of these grains will be found in your premade foods such as pasta, bread, cookies, etc. See below for a list of my favorite gluten free staples to replace your current favorite gluten containing products.

Eliminating hidden sources of gluten—this can be a little more tricky.

This was probably my biggest mistake when I went gluten free. While you might think you’ve gone completely gluten free by changing out your wheat bread for gluten free rice bread or switching your cereals and pastas for one with gluten free grains, there are other places gluten may be lingering in your foods:

  • Sauces – soy sauce, BBQ, teriyaki,etc. Check the ingredient list to make sure wheat, barely or rye are not present, or better yet, look for “Gluten Free” marked on the bottle
  • Spices- This is the same as sauces. Many seasonings, like taco seasoning, may have some source of gluten. 
  • Dips- Queso was a big one for me! Some recipes use roux, which is usually made from gluten containing white flour.

The biggest takeaway I can emphasize here: CHECK YOUR INGREDIENT LABELS! And when out to eat, double check with server about a gluten free menu or if their sauces contain gluten. Eating out is another story, but my favorite resource for eating out is Find Me Gluten Free. This is a platform for people to share their gluten free experiences at various restaurants throughout the country.

This is a big one and probably the BEST way to achieve a gluten free diet—eating a whole foods, plant based diet.

All fruits, vegetables, legumes, meats, and seafood are naturally gluten free, so including more unprocessed whole foods in your life is #1 way to make sure you are avoiding gluten. Incorporating gluten free grains like rice and quinoa with other unprocessed foods will ensure you are eating gluten free. Although this isn’t always the easiest because it usually does require more preparation but is definitely doable. One of my favorite, easiest ways to make a quick gluten free meal – smoothies! There are so many yummy, easy smoothie recipes. For those of you with a sweet tooth like me, check out my Gut Healing Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Smoothie.

Although this may seem like a lot of information to take in and can seem daunting, I promise it is easier than it seems! Just take it step-by-step, include more healthy whole, unprocessed foods in your diet and you will be eating gluten free in no time. 

Gluten Free Favorites:

Pasta-

Bread-

Crackers-

For more gluten free product suggestions, feel free to contact Courtney at peaceofgfcake@gmail.com

References

  1. Learn About Gluten-free Diets: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000813.htm
  2. Krysiak, R., Szkróbka, W., & Okopień, B. (2019). The Effect of Gluten-Free Diet on Thyroid Autoimmunity in Drug-Naïve Women with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: A Pilot Study. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes127(07), 417-422. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30060266

Holiday Eating and WHY We Encourage it!

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We’re entering the time of year of family gatherings, parties with friends, festive drinks, and delicious sweet and savory dishes. For a lot of people, they feel the need to compensate for the amount of food they ate. Well I’m here to tell you something shocking: YOU DO NOT NEED TO MAKE UP FOR WHAT YOU ATE. There is this ridiculous relationship between exercise and food that says food is the “reward” for exercising and exercising is your “punishment” for eating. What. The. Heck.  

Eating does not negate exercise and exercise does not negate eating. Instead of being contradictions to one another, as we have been told for so many years, the two work together to deliver a holistic, well balanced life. Food fuels our bodies so we can live out our everyday lives. Exercise allows us to keep our body moving and efficient in to our later years of life.  So what exactly is the problem with this negative association between food and exercise? And what does is have to do with the upcoming holiday season? Here are a few observations from my perspective:

-Food should not create guilt: You know the saying “food is fuel”? It’s true. Our bodies metabolize and break down the things we consume and convert them into little bundles of energy for us to use throughout the day. These little bundles of energy are not just saved for exercise necessarily either. The energy we receive from food is used for basic bodily functions as well.

-Movement should not be viewed as a penalty for nourishing yourself: I tell people and my clients all the time that we were given bodies for a reason and that reason is to move them. So movement is not a negative thing for your body to do. You’re actually using your body for its intended purpose! Over the years, our society and media has twisted this truth into making people think that the only reason you should do purposeful movement is to lose weight. Movement is not a penalty for eating. Movement is something to be celebrated. 

-The association between food and movement creates feelings of shame: The last thing you want to feel during the holidays is shame for eating too much and then obsession over when you can get back into the gym. I can speak from personal experience when I say that obsessing over these things takes the fun out of the holidays. You can’t remember what you ate or the fun conversations. You have no recollection of the games that were played or the laughs that were shared. 

The last thing you need to do after the holidays is to go on some crazy crash diet and hit the gym for 2 hours at a time. We recommend that you go back to your normal eating schedule and return to your regular movement routine. The holidays throw us all out of routine, so it’s only a matter of getting back to everyday life when it’s over. And if you’re still feeling a bit anxious about the whole thing, remember that your loved ones surround you. This is a time to be thankful and joyous for the wonderful people that surround us.

Written by Marlee Y.