Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the conflicting information out there when it comes to eating a healthful diet? Just on the topic of gluten alone there are so many questions such as: Is gluten-free just a fad or is it a real issue? Can going gluten-free help me with weight loss? What’s the difference between Coeliac disease and non-Coeliac gluten sensitivity?
To begin let’s look at what gluten actually is: Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in specific grains that give these grains their elasticity and “glues” the dough together. It is that sticky protein in wheat that holds the bread together and makes it rise. Grains that contain these proteins include wheat, barley, spelt and rye. Oats do not actually contain gluten but are often contaminated.
What is Coeliac Disease?
For those diagnosed with Coeliac disease, an autoimmune disease, gluten is especially damaging to their gastrointestinal tract. Coeliac disease is a very serious condition that, unfortunately, is often overlooked.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Digestive issues
- Fatigue and weakness
- Depression / Anxiety
- Infertility and other hormonal issues
What is Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity?
If you are experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms and have confirmed that you do not have Coeliac disease, you may want to explore the possibility that you could be sensitive to gluten.
Some of the symptoms are:
- Weight gain
- Diarrhoea or mucous in the stool
- Abdominal discomfort, pain or bloating
- Unexplained fatigue
Going gluten-free may have an effect on your weight, even if you don’t have an allergy or a sensitivity to gluten.
Some experts have argued that the problem may lie with wheat itself and not just gluten. Wheat contains compounds that may boost appetite and encourage overeating. Thanks to modern processing methods, wheat products also have the strong potential to raise your blood sugar levels – Two slices of whole wheat bread nowadays raise your blood sugar levels more than two tablespoons of table sugar does! The end result? You can be a lot more likely to store belly fat and widespread inflammation in your body can contribute to weight gain.
If you’re Coeliac, going gluten-free is an absolute must as eating even a small amount of gluten can start to damage your small intestine and can cause many unpleasant symptoms (as mentioned above). A lot of people who are Coeliac won’t be looking to lose weight and will often shed kilograms without even trying – often because nutrients can’t be absorbed properly from the food they’re eating. But some people also gain weight if they’re Coeliac so it’s not necessarily black and white.
With the following tips, you’ll be ready to make sure that your gluten-free diet helps you to keep the weight off and become a healthier version of you:
Avoid super processed gluten-free foods. Just because it is gluten-free, doesn’t mean it is healthy. Be aware that eating gluten-free food like gluten-free cookies, cakes and processed foods are still cakes and cookies! These foods can still be high in unhealthy fats, sugar and salt and can lead to weight gain.
Be aware of hidden gluten. Gluten can hide in many unsuspecting places. For those with Coeliac disease or who are non-Coeliac gluten-sensitive, this can make eating a minefield – whether at home or away. Don’t assume a product is safe because it “shouldn’t” have gluten in it. Look for the Certified Gluten-Free label on packages and become a detective when it comes to ingredients. Also important to note, although diet sodas and artificially sweetened foods do not necessarily contain gluten, the artificial sweetener aspartame often triggers a similar reaction for those with Coeliac or non-Coeliac gluten sensitivity so it is best to avoid these products.
Eat a healthful, balanced diet. Focus on fresh, whole foods like high-quality organic animal or vegetable protein, healthy fats and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Skip the processed foods! It’s important to make sure that you eat a healthful and balanced diet when you’re gluten-free. Whole grains provide essential nutrients such as fibre, B vitamins and magnesium. Replacing these elsewhere in your diet is a must to avoid deficiencies. Brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat can be perfect gluten-free replacements to stay healthy and still promote weight loss.
Going gluten-free can be a great starting point for weight loss and can be helpful alongside other lifestyle changes such as regular exercise and eating healthful foods. If living a gluten-free lifestyle positively impacts how you feel each and every day, it will be so worth it!
Medical Disclaimer: All information contained in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent health problems. For all serious health issues, please contact a medical or nutrition practitioner. The information provided in this blog is based on the best knowledge of the author at the time of writing and we do not assume liability for the information within this blog, be it direct or indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages.