Abigail Joy Dougherty: Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Expert & Lover of Life
2015, Celiac Disease, Food Trends, gluten free, Healthy Eating, Lifestyle Changes, National Nutrition Month, Nutrition, Recipes, Registered Dietitian

Healthy Gluten-Free?

Guest Blog- By Kelly Puryear

Hello, fabulous readers! My name is Kelly Puryear and I have been given the honor of writing a few “guest blogs” for Abigail as her intern dietetic student. I am a registered dietitian-in-training and I am finishing up my last semester as a distance dietetic student at the University of Alabama (“Roll Tide”)! I moved to Tampa in 2009 to complete my masters program in Exercise Science and now I work at a private personal training studio in South Tampa (Vitality Fitness) as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). I have always been passionate about fitness and nutrition and I hope to spread some of this passion to you! I hope that you are able to learn some more about nutrition from me and that you enjoy reading my blogs!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Gluten-Free: What Does That Really Mean?

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(Photo compliments of www.foodnavigator-usa.com)

By now I am sure you all are well aware of the term “gluten-free” and that you have seen various food labels promoting gluten-free products as well as several restaurants offering gluten-free items, but what does “gluten-free” actually mean?

The Google ® definition of the adjective “gluten-free” is simply stated as “(of food or a diet) not containing gluten.” Gluten is a protein that is found in several grains such as wheat, barley, rye, triticale, and ingredients containing derivatives of these grains such as malt and modified food starch. A gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat individuals with Celiac Disease, as gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with this disease, and following a gluten-free diet helps control their signs and symptoms and prevent complications. More and more people are beginning to follow a gluten-free diet for various other reasons – mainly for treating non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Even individuals with no adverse reactions to gluten are starting to eliminate gluten based on the belief that a gluten-free diet is healthier than a well-balanced diet. While a gluten-free diet can be very healthy, especially for those with Celiac Disease, NCGS, and IBS, it is important to understand how you can benefit the most from following the diet and how to select the healthiest gluten-free foods.

So is gluten-free for me?

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(Photo compliments of everydaywellnesstherapy.com)

When individuals choose to follow a gluten-free diet, even if they are NOT sensitive / intolerant, they may feel better due to the fact that they are cutting out a lot of processed CRAP (like packaged snack foods, highly-processed breads, fried foods, and calorie-dense creamy pasta dishes and deep-dish pizzas). Gluten-free diets are generally focused on more whole food (such as fruits, vegetable, lean protein sources, and whole grains like quinoa and brown rice), to replace packaged bread/cakes/cookies, and consuming whole foods in their natural form is healthier and more easily digested by the human body. This translates to an overall “better” feeling and may be the underlying reason behind the “de-bloating” power of the gluten-free diet.

It is important to realize that selecting gluten-free packaged bars, cereals, snacks, and desserts with several “unknown” ingredients is not the goal in regards to health. You still need to select whole foods (that are naturally gluten free) in order to receive the greatest health benefits. Just like with gluten-full foods, you want to select gluten-free foods with the least amount of ingredients!

So what are some of the best naturally gluten-free foods?
  • Beans, seeds and nuts (in their natural, unprocessed form)
  • Fresh eggs
  • Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Most dairy products
Many grains and starches can be part of a gluten-free diet (but it’s important to make sure that they are not processed or mixed with gluten-containing grains, additives or preservatives):
  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn and cornmeal
  • Flax
  • Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
  • Hominy (corn)
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Sorghum
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Teff

Looking for some awesome gluten-free recipes? Check out gimmesomeoven.com and try making some of their delicious and nutritious gluten-free meals that will leave you feeling satisfied shocked to find that you don’t even miss the gluten!

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Bottom line…

You do not have to follow a gluten-free diet if you do not have any adverse effects to wheat or other gluten-containing foods. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes gluten and gluten-free items can be very healthy and nutritious as long as these food are in their whole, unprocessed forms!

Now if you do have Celiac Disease, IBS, NCGS, or have any adverse reactions to gluten, then it is highly recommended that you avoid gluten at all costs! If you’re not sure whether a food contains gluten, don’t buy it or check with the manufacturer first to ask what it contains. Even better, choose whole, unprocessed foods that are naturally free of gluten for optimal health and reduced risk of accidentally consuming gluten!

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