With the surge of gluten free (GF) products on the market, the term ‘gluten free’ almost seems to have become synonymous with being ‘healthy’. Let’s just start by correcting this misconception….gluten free does NOT necessarily (and quite often does not) = healthy.
For those who have Coeliac Disease (an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack itself when gluten is consumed) leading a strict gluten free diet is vital and many now choose to exclude gluten or minimise it because they feel better without it. However, doing it right (just like being a vegetarian or vegan) is the key to not risking your health or nutritional deficiencies developing.
Many gluten free products on the market today are high in sugar, low in fibre, use cheap and high GI flours (such as rice), soy products, refined vegetable oils and contain an array of gums, preservatives and additives that we just do not need (and definitely do not want) in our diet. Regular use of such products could be spiking your insulin (blood sugar) levels causing sugar cravings (and subsequent crashes), causing nutritional imbalances (such as excess of inflammatory polyunsaturated omega 6 fatty acids and lack of anti-inflammatory polyunsaturated omega 3 fatty acids. A lack of fibre can cause constipation, leading to abdominal discomfort and other unpleasant symptoms from the build-up of toxins that your body needs to eliminate daily but is unable to.
My key to eating a healthy gluten free diet is stick to eating whole foods (i.e. fresh fruit and vegetables) as much as you can and when packaged foods are necessary look closely at the ingredient list. If it is too long or you do not know what they are then opt for brands you can trust such as Leda’s Banana Bar. Gluten free, wheat free, diary free, egg free, vegan, this bar is baked with REAL pieces of fruit (not just the juice, extract or flavouring as found in many other products). This means you get the goodness of the fibre from the whole food, which actually helps your body slow down the absorption of sugar and keep your bowels happy : )
Below are 3 simple swaps to help steer you towards healthly gluten free snacks that your tummy will thank you for:
- Swap: Gluten free muffins or bars with unknown or high sugar ingredients
For : A piece of fruit and small handful of almonds or try Leda’sBanana Bar
- Swap: Packaged nuts and dried fruits (often containing sulphites)
For : Raw or even better activated nuts free of preservatives
- Swap: Gluten free chocolate mousse
For : Home made chocolate avocado mousse, it is simply delicious and takes 5 minutes, yum!
Written by GMB Nutritonist Claire Barker.