Getting the Most Out of Your Gluten-Free Diet
If you’re like hundreds of thousands of other health conscious individuals around the world, you’ve adopted the gluten-free lifestyle to find relief from headaches, lethargy, bloating and other gastrointestinal issues that stem from gluten sensitivity. Hopefully, eliminating the pesky protein found in bread, pasta and cereals from your diet has provided the answers to your problems. However, while you intended to only give up gluten, you may have given up other important nutrients that are crucial to maintaining a healthy diet. Are you sure you are monitoring your consumption of nutrients that may have been eliminated along with gluten?
Where did the nutrients go?
For the last several decades, companies have been performing all sorts of experiments with their food products. Sugars of all forms, starches of varying derivatives, and preparation processes focusing on improving economy rather than a healthy end-product, have changed what we’ve been eating enormously. As processed foods proliferated, these processes eventually altered our food so much, that the processes themselves removed most, if not all, the nutrients from these foods that our bodies need. In order to remedy this problem, companies then added some, but by no means all, of the removed nutrients back into their products. If this whole processed food situation seems backwards and counterproductive, that’s because it is!
What you may be missing
When removing gluten from your diet, people are removing processed food items like bread, pasta and cereals. Often, these staple items are enriched with nutrients when they’re being made. The end result is no gluten, but no important nutrients, either. It’s important to keep in mind that you could also be eliminating the foods (and their important nutrients) that normally accompanied these grains. Sure, you cut out the bread from the sandwich, but you’re also losing the nutrients found in the lettuce, cheese and turkey that would have been on your sandwich. Finding suitable replacement sources for nutrients like iron, folate, and calcium that often go missing when gluten is eliminated is crucial. Be sure to increase your intake of these nutrients to ensure you’re getting everything your body needs!
Iron – Load up on foods like spinach, nuts, clams, beef and my personal favorite, dark chocolate!
Folate – As if you needed an excuse to eat more avocados, mangos, oranges and beans. These are an excellent source of folate.
Calcium – Folks in the American south will be pleased to see collard greens as a great source of calcium, along with kale and figs. Dairy products like milk, eggs, and yogurt can also be excellent sources of calcium, although they tend to be much higher in calories than the vegetables mentioned above.
So now that you’ve found relief from your gluten sensitivity symptoms, make sure you supplement your diet to make up for any potential deficiencies in nutrients. Just like eliminating gluten, being mindful about your nutrient intake will become second nature over time. Now go out and celebrate your health-induced happiness!