When I talk to people about some simple ways to clean up their diets, one of the easiest first steps I will ask people to take is to remove gluten and wheat based products from their plate. To some people, the sound of that is very scary. To others who are so unsure of which foods contain wheat/gluten, it doesn't sound so bad at all…until they hear what it means.
Going gluten free means no more:
- pasta (including couscous)
- breaded foods
- protein/breakfast bars
- and anything else made with Wheat, White flour products, Barley, Rye, Kamut, Teff or Spelt
That said, there are certainly many gluten/wheat-free versions of the above foods that you can find out there in the grocery store, or you can make at home. The growing awareness of gluten allergies and intolerance is drumming up efforts of food manufacturers and home-cooks alike to develop tasty products and recipes without the gluten.
Gluten is a composite of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. These exist, conjoined with starch, in the endosperms of some grass-related grains, notably wheat, rye, and barley. Gliadin and glutenin compose about 80% of the protein contained in wheat seed. Being insoluble in water, they can be purified by washing away the associated starch…Although wheat supplies much of the world's dietary protein and food supply, as much as 0.5% to 1% of the population of the United States has celiac disease, a condition which results from an adverse immune system response to gluten. The manifestations of celiac disease range from no symptoms to malabsorption of nutrients with involvement of multiple organ systems. The only effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet. [Source: Wikipedia]
The quick answer is, it's a protein found in wheat and some other grains as mentioned above. You're probably asking, well, if it's a protein, then why can't I eat it? The problem with this particular protein is that many people actually can't break it down within their body and aren't aware that they can't. There's a broad spectrum of those who are either sensitive to, intolerant of or allergic to gluten entirely. My generalized reason for recommending that you remove gluten from your diet is that most of the foods out there that contain it, well, they aren't WHOLE FOODS. Think about that. In order to make something from wheat (or the above listed grains), you have to break down the grain from it's original form to something that resembles dust. When we break down foods before we even get a chance to eat them, the way our bodies absorb what's in them changes drastically.
These are what we call processed foods. Yes, even your bread is a processed food. Get it now? I think I just saw a light bulb turn on over your head! Aha! A tomato, an egg, a piece of chicken, an apple. Those are not processed foods. Whole wheat bread is a processed food. Whole wheat pasta is a processed food. Your cereal is a processed food. Your protein bar is a processed food. I think you get the point. When I'm talking about eliminating gluten from your diet, I'm aiming largely at the one ingredient, but more importantly at processed foods in their entirety.
Dr. Mercola also suggests that people who are looking to clean up their health and diet, and possibly find and eliminate causes of their ailments, also remove soy and pasteurized dairy from their diets. I'll talk more about these two things in a future post. For now, let's focus on gluten.
Another great resource to learn more about wheat, gluten and the effect is has on your body is mercola. com – here's a link to a good article on a Beginner Nutrition Plan from Dr. Mercola, one of the nation's top naturopatic MDs. Dr. Mercola points out the following regarding gluten:
When you eat a food that you're sensitive to, it causes a series of negative biochemical reactions in your body, especially in your digestive tract and immune system, as I described earlier. However, it also decreases your serotonin levels, which can have a marked negative impact on your mood, and can cause you to turn to simple sugars and carbohydrates for relief.
Usually, when you remove allergenic foods (such as gluten) from your diet, your cravings for sweets will diminish, your mood will improve, your weight will drop, and your overall health will soar. [Source: mercola.com]
Okay, back to my original reason for posting, and that was to help those of you who want to go gluten free to get around what I call The Breakfast Hurdle.
One way to get around the big hurdle of what to eat for breakfast when eating gluten and sugar free is to throw away the idea of “Breakfast Foods.” We are animals but we've been marketed to SO heavily that we think we need to eat certain foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Granted, many people aren't somehow mentally prepared to tackle “dinner foods” for breakfast, but the reality is that our bodies don't know the difference. In fact, many of us would be better fueled all day if we ate a much larger, more robust meal as our first meal of the day.
Beginning your day with meat and veggies for breakfast and adding some fresh fruit to include something raw with your cooked food is a great start. I personally eat a lot of pastured eggs as well, usually sunny side up. I do sometimes scramble some eggs and cook some veggies quickly in a pan and put them in a container to-go and eat them at work, but keeping the yolks runny allows for the best nutrient absorption from eggs.
Here are some of my favorite breakfasts!
- Kale sauteed in coconut oil with 2 sunny side up eggs and fresh fruit, sometimes I also have Prather Ranch bacon or sausage with that.
- An organic, free-range sausage with green beans sauteed in coconut oil, chipotle hot sauce and fresh green juice.
- A bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh (or any other meat that I cooked the night before and re-heated in my toaster oven) with any veggies and some fresh veggie & fruit juice.
- Scrambled eggs with zucchini or squash and some avocado.
What are some of your favorite gluten free breakfasts? Share them in the comments below!
If you'd like more information on going gluten-free, or to find out more about holistic lifestyle coaching services in-person (in the Bay Area) or remotely (via phone, email or Skype), contact me today.