Weight Watching: What to expect on a Gluten-Free Diet

Since going gluten-free involves switching up one’s diet, most people are bound to experience a difference in their weight. What changes can we actually expect? To help, we’ve provided here the 3 possible routes your weight can take on your gluten-free journey.

lady thinking about gluten free diet

  1. The Good – Weight Gain

In Celiac Disease, because of the damage your intestinal walls go through over time, the body loses its efficient natural ability to take nourishment from the food it consumes. Someone who has had this disease, and has not been diagnosed for a long period (which may very well be a decade or more), may be extremely underweight, as a result. Or if not , they may have difficulty in maintaining healthy weight, because of the challenge this disease poses for nutrient and calorie absorption.  

After getting diagnosed and taking measures to improve your condition, by eliminating gluten, for one, the body can then heal itself. Your intestines can gradually once again absorb the nutrients, and calories from the food you eat. Your small intestines will hopefully improve its function, and  as a result you will experience weight gain as your body absorbs the benefits from the food it consumes. This weight gain is great news! It is important for the body to maintain a healthy weight to make sure your it performs optimally.

  1. The Bad Weight Gain, And Good Weight Loss  

man running

However, Dr. Vikki Peterson, a doctor publishing specialized content on gluten relevant concerns, explains that there is also another case where the body may react differently. In gluten sensitivity, wherein the damage is not as severe as those in Celiac disease, but where the body is still very reactive to gluten, the manifestation instead could be the opposite. Sensing your body is not able to gain nourishment from the food it consumes, it can hold on to what you give it by not wanting to burn anything. This results a decrease in metabolic rate, causing your body to pack on the pounds. [1]

In this case, eliminating gluten and the inflammatory substances from food you eat, can actually eventually correctly tune your body into letting go of all the pounds it’s been saving for  a rainy day. Going gluten-free may actually help you lose weight. 

 

weight loss on a gluten free diet

3. The Ugly – Unadvisable weight gain

There is a third  route your body may take, on a gluten-free diet. If you do not have problems with severe weight loss from Celiac Disease, you may encounter another type of weight gain, that is not the desirable kind.

It may be the case that in your effort to remove gluten from your diet, you are in turn consuming a lot more processed foods with a whole lot of junk in them. A lot of gluten-free food are processed foods that can contain sugars, sodium, or additives, bad fats, and dairy in unhealthy amounts. Avoid the trap of ditching gluten, the one thing your body is reactive about, only to land on a whole pile of things that is in other ways very bad for you.

The trick would be to go naturally gluten-free. Or if you are eating processed food, know the ingredients in what you’re eating. Choose to take the fruit, instead of the gluten-free baked good with glaze and so much butter. For your main meal, get vegetables on the side in place of those gluten laden dinner rolls. Basically, be careful of the general content of your food, aside from the gluten content. This can help eliminate the unnecessary weight gain from adopting this new diet. 

Do you have your own experience to share on how going gluten free affected your weight? Feel free to share with us in the comments! 🙂

References:

“Gluten Sensitivity: Is It Possible To Be Overweight And Have A Gluten Problem?” Performance by Dr. Vikki Petersen, Gluten Sensitivity: Is It Possible To Be Overweight And Have A Gluten Problem?, YouTube, 6 May 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l09pkn71vSo&t=0s&list=PLF-d5_BISpj0BGZ1ttOYnrxVjk3aFxBl9&index=2.

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Gluten-Free At Home? How to Avoid Cross-Contamination if you’re the only one.

woman in a non gluten-free kitchen

It’s nice when all the members of the family or a household adhere to only one type of diet. It’s a whole ‘nother story if you’re a solo gluten-free dieter at home.

In a study made by the American Dietetic Association[1], it was  revealed that a number of  grains that are inherently gluten-free (7 of the 22 grains tested) came out actually having gluten above 20 parts per million–the limit that FDA has set for a product to be called gluten-free.

Hold it, what? How does this happen? That is because of cross-contamination. Gluten can contaminate non gluten-containing foods in its different phases of production: from harvest of ingredients in farms where gluten-containing foods are planted, manufacturing in plants where gluten-containing foods are also processed, or even in the bulk bins in stores where they are placed next to gluten-containing items.

man eating gluten free food

And so, it is an important thing to note that right at home,  cross-contamination may also happen.  Kitchens used to prepare food that contains gluten; cooking tools, toasters, ovens, dishwashers, may actually pose risks of contaminating the food you eat.

What to do to avoid gluten cross-contamination? Here are some handy tips! How strict you will implement these would depend on how reactive you are to gluten. If you have Celiac Disease, we advise ticking all items on the list. 

  1. Have dedicated cooking tools such as pots, pans, cutting board, toasters, and ovens for preparing gluten-free meals.

Young Unhappy Woman Opening Door Of Oven With Full Of Smoke

If what you use in the kitchen handle non-gluten containing foods, it is best to have its gluten-free version. Though it would not be that practical to have two of everything, especially big expensive appliances, you can opt to have smaller versions of it for your solo use, at a fraction of the cost. Or if you are throwing away an old oven for a new model, for example, but they actually still work, disinfect and keep them as your gluten-free safe one.

For smaller items, definitely do not scrimp. Tools that you have to be extra careful about are strainers, peelers, graters; those that commonly get food stuck in crevices, even after thorough washing. Be safe, and get a twin.

  1. Separate a section for gluten-free items in your pantry and cabinets, a separate shelf in your refrigerator, ideally the topmost.

ref shelf

Not border-lining on OCD, it actually makes sense to have 2 separate areas at home for gluten-free and non-gluten-free items. It will make cooking and eating a lot more convenient, as you wouldn’t always be digging through your pantry to find safe items every time. It would also stop gluten from sneaking their way into your meals  when stored.

  1. Choose stainless steel cutlery and tools for easy cleaning decontamination. Avoid wooden spoons.

We’re in love with wooden spoons. They’re pretty, are gentler on sensitive cookwares and there’s that organic mama-is-home feel to it. But they can also be a pain to clean, and we’re not exactly 100% sure they are food safe. These can crack overtime with heat and repeated use, and then gluten-containing food particles can get stuck in them, not to mention they can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

spoon silhouette

  1. Once a week (or more than once, if your family members are amenable) have a gluten-free day.

This is a day when you will only cook from your gluten-free pantry section, and no one is allowed to complain 😉

Your food safety relies heavily on the support system you can get from your household.  Aside from speaking to them directly about the health impact for you of being gluten-free, do this also with hope of them getting consciously more considerate of the real diet needs of other household members.

The meals that you will eat on this day will also show them gluten-free day food is actually not that different from their usual meals. If you cook with ingredients from scratch, a bonus would be adding less processed foods, and more natural ingredients to their diet (Since they’d also be eating no additives that may contain gluten).

  1.  And lastly, the mother of it all:  Have the entire household go gluten-free.

It’s not easy to get everyone on this special diet, but a gluten-free household is the surest way to avoid cross-contamination. When something is not gluten-free, drop it at the doorstep before coming in. It is worth it to have some inconveniences and adjustments in the beginning, when in the end, you can say on a daily basis that you are healthy and safe in your own house.

gluten free family

Any more tips that you do in your own home to avoid gluten cross-contamination? Feel free to leave some in the comments! 🙂

References:

[1] Thompson, T, et al. “Gluten Contamination of Grains, Seeds, and Flours in the United States: a Pilot Study.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2010, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20497786.

7 Things You Never Thought Could be Gluten-Free

With wheat, barley and rye out of the picture, what do you eat? (Buh-bye, pizza, pasta, bread… and so much more.) We’ve scoured the internet for gluten-free food, and surprisingly found these products  that we never thought could be gluten-free. Not all these are available yet in the Philippines. But it’s nice to know there are creative ways out there by which the gluten-free community can still enjoy their favorite meals.

1. Gluten-Free Corn Dogs

This yummy bread and meat on a stick is typically made with cornflour and sadly, baking flour made of wheat. And so we thought we’d never see the day corn dogs off a shelf can be gluten-free.  Foster Farms Gluten-Free Corn Dogs, Chicken Franks Dipped in Honey-Cruchy batter: doesn’t that just sound delicious? And gluten-free, thank you very much.

gluten free corn dog
Photo: Fosterfarms.com

2. Gluten-Free Gravy

Feels a bit unfair that just because you cannot have gluten, delicious things such as gravy become forbidden. What with its usual wheat containing thickeners and flavorings. But McCormick created a solution so your sauces and meats do not have to go gravy-free. (Seriously, McCormick, you’re golden.). 

McCormick Gluten Free Gravy
Photo Credit: McCormick.com

3. Gluten-Free Couscous

Aside from pasta, which we already know  have gluten-free versions, Couscous also has a big red flag for the gluten-intolerant. A pasta like product which is a staple in the North African cuisine, it is traditionally made from crushed durum wheat. Woolworths the popular grocery store in Australia carry San Remo Gluten-Free Couscous. It’s made instead of corn flour and water. Add it to your vegetables meals, meats and fish. Cooks in only 9 minutes.

san remo gluten free couscous
Photo: San Remo
  1. Gluten-Free Whole Grain Bread

You don’t need wheat to get nutrition and tummy pleasant fiber from whole grain bread. Whole wheat breads are usual things we see in stores, but more types are actually out there.  Genuine Bavarian Breads brand makes gluten-free whole grain breads: organic whole flaxseed bread, whole grain bread made mostly of whole cereals and whole rice. These can be ordered from iHerb to ship to the Philippines via UPS, DHL or via local post. If you want other breads like whole loaf, baguette and sliced breads, we also know where you can get some

Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread
Photo: iHerb
  1. Gluten-Free Soy Sauce

You would think that soy sauce, soy being the operative word, should naturally be gluten-free. But lo and behold, the ingredients list of most soy sauce out there contain wheat in its primary ingredients. Even Kikkoman, the naturally brewed soysauce, still contains gluten in undetectable amount below 10 parts per million. For Gluten-Free soy sauce then, try the Tamari style soy sauce that don’t use wheat. Kikkoman also has it. FilStop may ship internationally to you. Or if you you don’t want to pay shipping charges to have soy sauce shipped, this Skinny Protein Aminos from 7grains available locally,  for your marinades, and dish seasonings.  

Gluten Free Soy Sauce Alternative
Photo: 7grains
  1.  Gluten-Free Pizza

We used to believe the only way you can have gluten-free pizza is to make it from scratch. But our good friends from Amy’s made these pizzas with rice crust for our enjoyment.

amy's gluten free pizza
Photo: Amy’s

Kroger also has these pizzas with fantastically extra thin crust made from tapioca starch, brown rice flour among other gluten-free ingredients.

  1. Gluten-Free Beer

For alcoholic beverages, we can have the gluten-free alternative, all the time. Wine, it’s called. But sometimes we really just want beer. Bad news for us since barley equals beer, right? Well, not all the time. Check Shape’s list of 12 Gluten Free Beers made from alternative ingredients like sorghum , gluten-less barley malt, hops, fruits, chestnuts. I’ll drink to that.

gluten free beer
Photo: Green Brewery

It’s fun finding out about these, isn’t it? Suddenly the gluten-free diet doesn’t seem at all that limited. Do you have your own Gluten-Free food discovery? Feel free to share with us in the comments!

Diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Where to Start?

Firstly, take a breath.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed.  It’s even easier to immediately jump to the wrong conclusion that because of your diagnosis, your hope for a normal diet is effectively doomed. But stop. And breathe. Like any other new thing you are learning,  this thing that is now overwhelming will soon be second nature to you.

Join Groups Dedicated to Living Gluten- Free

Now that you’ve had a breath or two to relax, go online. You can take comfort in the fact that there’s  a whole community out there that shares the same sentiment. Nothing beats advice taken from practical experience in ensuring you learn tips that has a high chance of actually working for you. Join forums on sites such as on Glutenfreesociety.org . You can also find a number of groups on Facebook , that can provide helpful information. Try these groups, which have a lively energy and a high following:

Gluten Free Living and Recipe Share

Gluten-Free – Celiac Disease Support Group

Free From Gluten

The other day, a member posted a photo of a mouthwatering burger. It’s enticing, and the entire thing is totally gluten-free. I know where to get the bun, though I was curious what seasoning I can use, since flavor packets that I usually use has gluten. Now I have new things to try: garlic powder, onion powder and salt–  Such priceless help you cannot find just anywhere.

Google is your best friend

When in doubt, Google. Google credible sources,  that is. Some of these are : Celiac.com, Celiac Disease Foundation, Gluten Intolerance Group , Mayo Clinic. Your criteria for judging should be that the information provided really comes from studied research, backed by nutritionists who know what they are talking about, or practical information from people who actually are living gluten-free themselves.  Also, go to the company websites of the products you are doubtful about. They pretty much will tell you what you need to know about the product.

Get to Know Health Apps

There are excellent apps that can help you, and  you don’t even have to pay to get useful service. Here are a few apps we’ve experimented with:

-Ipiit, The Food Ambassador, is a good app to start with, it let’s you scan items off a grocery shelf for potential allergens. But disappointingly, though, this is only available in the US and works only with US products for now. But if are going gluten-free in the Philippines we found for you an alternative:

-HAPIcoach, the nutritionist in your pocket. You can download the app and register a free account. Upload a photo of your food  and have a registered nutritionist comment on your food. If you are worried about gluten, ask-away, and they can give you valuable insight.

filipinorice

Naturally Gluten-Free Food is in Abundance

Realize that most of the food you are  already eating are gluten-free. For food allergies, the typical reaction would be, “Can I still feed myself conveniently? What can you eat instead of gluten containing food?”  In a gluten-free diet, you  will need to stay away from these three things and their sub-forms: wheat, barley and rye. And so, what else is there to eat? Well, a whole lot of options! Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, corn, rice these are all gluten-free. So you’re not depriving yourself. And you’d actually be eating additive-free with just these items in their pure state, if you think about it. (gluten usually sneak their way into these items through additives and spices)

Get to Know Gluten-Free Shops

Though in the Philippines, Celiac Disease is not familiar to most people you meet off the street. Most of those who know about Celiac disease are those afflicted or have relatives who suffer from it. But there are a few places that offer gluten-free options.

You may already know GERALD.ph offers gluten-free options for home delivery but there are restaurants as well that serve gluten-free food such as Corner Tree Cafe in Makati, or the Wholesome Table in BGC offer great options. Tripadvisor also has a comprehensive list of restaurants around Manila that you can checkout. Be sure to call in advance to ask especially if gluten-free options are available.

So take heed my now gluten-free friend and you’ll get there! If you have questions, you can post them in the comments so our gluten-free readers can also share their insight and experience with you. Have a great journey!