Many of us see the New Year as a great time to make changes and improve our health. It’s a good time to look at your diet and lifestyle, and see what you can do to look and feel your best.
Going gluten-free can be a big turning point to eating healthier. Many people are amazed to realize the impact that diet has on how they feel! All of a sudden, people need to start reading labels, and many begin to wonder why there are all of these ingredients they can’t pronounce and why high fructose corn syrup and red dye # whatever seems to be in everything. Or maybe after years of eating anything and staying slim, the pounds have started creeping upward. No matter what your reason, let this be the year you improve your diet.
Are you getting the nutrients you need?
Nutrition is important for everyone, but particularly for people who have food restrictions. Years ago, the Food and Drug Administration realized that many people weren’t getting enough vitamins like folate, several other B vitamins, iron and calcium. So they added a variety of nutrients to the foods supply in every day foods like flour, bread, pasta, cereal, etc. However, gluten-free breads and cereals are considered specialty products, and very few are enriched with these vitamins. Not only that, but many gluten-free breads are filled with things like tapioca, potato and cornstarch to give a light texture, and these foods have very few nutrients. So when people switch from eating regular packaged foods to eating gluten-free processed foods, they don’t realize that they’re actually eating a lot fewer vitamins and minerals, a lot less fiber and usually more calories, too. Not only that, but many people with Celiac disease may be deficient in many vitamins, such as B vitamins, vitamin D, Calcium and iron because they have not been absorbing foods well for years, and may need more than the average person while they are healing.
And, as we well know, gluten-free does not automatically mean good for you! Often in the beginning, people want to try anything that’s gluten-free, and are just focusing on getting by. The focus is on finding replacements for old favorites and learning all of the new rules. That is definitely a great short-term strategy but it’s only the first step! The good news is that that many healthy foods are naturally gluten-free, like fruits, veggies, beans, many whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plain fish and poultry.
Here are some suggestions to make your diet healthier:
- Add beans back to your diet. They’re a great source of fiber, calcium, and iron, and super yummy in a winter soup.
- Have fruit or vegetable with every meal—5-9 a day. That can be as easy as an orange with breakfast, a salad with lunch, dried fruit for snack and 2 servings of veggies along with dinner.
- Make sure you’re getting your omega 3s. Salmon, trout, flounder, sole, etc. are great options, and flax, chia, walnuts and hemp are vegetarian options.
- Choose whole grains, rather than refined. Wild rice, quinoa, teff, etc. are more nutrient dense than white rice. Try a whole grain hot cereal, wild rice with dinner, or even quinoa pasta.
- Drink your water! 6-8 glasses a day are important to stay hydrated.
- Find a way to reduce stress: acupuncture, meditation, deep breathing, talking to a friend, dancing, playing with the dog, whatever works for you. I’ve listed this under nutrition because most people don’t reach for Brussels sprouts when they get stressed.
Here are some websites with many gluten-free recipes featuring simple, good, real food! Whether you’re “just” gluten-free or you’re dairy-free, grain-free, vegan or whatever other way of eating has worked for you and your family, the list blow should have you covered
- Bob’s Red Mill features many gluten-free and whole grain recipes. Search under “gluten-free” http://www.bobsredmill.com/recipe/
- Dr. Weil has great healthy recipes listed. Most (not all) are GF http://www.drweil.com/drw/ecs/common/recipe.html
- Diet, Dessert and Dogs: Gluten-free? (check!) dairy-free? (check!) vegan (check!) delicious (check!) Ricki’s recipes are wonderful , no matter your food restrictions, and many are grain-free as well. She also has a variety of e-books on her website.
- Elana’s Pantry: Curious about almond flour? Elana’s pantry should be your first stop! She also has a lot of wonderful veggie recipes and tips for children, too. http://www.elanaspantry.com/
- Ginger Lemon Girl: Most of the newer recipes are paleo friendly, most of the older ones are decadent, but all are gluten-free http://gingerlemongirl.blogspot.com/
- Gluten-free Goodness: my blog, which is gluten, dairy, egg, corn, soy and usually sugar free. Most of the time the recipes are healthy. http://gfgoodness.com/
- Gluten-free For Good. Great gluten-free and healthy recipes and information on healthy foods, too. http://www.glutenfreeforgood.com/blog/
- Health-e-Recipes from AICR (American Institute for Cancer Research). You can sign up for newsletters on their site, and you get weekly recipes in your inbox. Many (not all) are gluten-free and dairy free. Many are quick and simple, use seasonal ingredients, and feature a lot of veggies.
- Kalyn’s Kitchen: Perfect if you’re on South Beach, but wonderful if you’re not, too! Many food recipes (not just desserts) and many, but not all are gluten-free. http://www.kalynskitchen.com/
- Simply Sugar and Gluten Free—Amy’s website and cookbook have a lot of wonderful options. http://simplysugarandglutenfree.com/
- The Spunky Coconut: Kelly’s recipes often include beans and veggies in unusual, but tasty ways. Many are grain-free and allergen friendly, all are gluten-free. http://www.thespunkycoconut.com/
- The W.H.O.L.E Gang—Allergen friendly recipes for the family (all gluten free) http://www.thewholegang.org/blog/
- Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen http://www.nourishingmeals.com/ Gluten-free, healthy whole food based meals
- World’s Healthiest Foods: Good, basic healthy recipes. Most are gluten-free, but you can check off the foods you want to avoid for a recipe search. http://whfoods.com/
- 101 Cookbooks: Some are GF, some aren’t. There are many great soup and vegetarian recipes, and many feature veggies and whole grains. http://www.101cookbooks.com/
I have other recipe & sites listed at http://www.harriswholehealth.com/recipes/ And, of course, there are more websites and resources popping up every day! Do you have a favorite healthy recipe site that isn’t listed? Email me and let me know.
Next Meeting Date: Saturday, January 7, 2012, 2:00–4:00 pm
Meeting Topic: A panel discussion on “Eating Healthy While Being Gluten-Free.”
Location: Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library (DC)
4450 Wisconsin Ave. N.W. (at Albemarle St), across the street from Tenley metro stop.
Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian, Nutritionist and Certified Wellness Coach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA. Cheryl works with people to feel and look their best with a range of specialties, including Celiac Disease, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals. Email her or call 571-271-8742.