Is a gluten free diet plan right for you?
The gluten free diet seems to be everywhere. For some it’s a fad that will disappear faster than the Atkins Diet. For others, it’s a lifestyle that they have to adhere to because of health problems. Still for others, it is something that they’ve never thought of but should possibly consider. Let’s clear up the confusion once and for all and find out who should follow a gluten free diet plan, what the symptoms of gluten intolerance are, where gluten is found and the best way to go gluten free.
People who suffer from diseases such as Ulcerative Colitis, Celiac Disease, and even some people with Cystic Fibrosis, need to be on a gluten free diet plan because their bodies just don’t thrive any other way. Some people may find that they have gluten intolerance, leading to many uncomfortable and irritating symptoms.
Gluten intolerance symptoms
- Fat in the stools due to poor digestion
- Gastrointestinal problems (bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
- Exhaustion and depression
- Irritability and behavioral changes
- Infertility, irregular menstrual cycle and even miscarriage
- Cramps, tingling and numbness
- Slow infant and child growth
- Decline in dental health
- Fatigue, foggy thinking, or feeling tired after a meal that contains gluten
- Fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue
- Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints
If you suffer from a number of these symptoms, chances are high that you need to be on a gluten free diet plan. Many people are gluten intolerant and just don’t realize it. Don’t feel bad if you weren’t aware of the effects of this little ingredient, it’s in so many food items that it just seems “normal.”
Gluten is found in wheat and other grains such as barley and rye. It is often used as a flavor enhancer, a protein supplement, and a thickening agent in processed foods. Many convenient foods like bagels, pizza, cereal, bread, and even salad dressings have gluten in them.
Considering a gluten free diet plan
- If you suspect gluten intolerance, get rid of gluten foods for two weeks and see how your body reacts. Then slowly add some gluten foods and keep a food journal to jot down what you experience. If any of the above symptoms reappear, then gluten is the culprit.
- Eat real food. Be sure to devour lots of colorful fruits and vegetables so your body gets the nutrients you need. The people who maintain healthy weight on a gluten free diet plan are the ones who cut out 98% of their processed foods and just eat real food.
- Do your research when buying meat and poultry. If the animal was fed any type of grain before they were butchered, chances are high that trace amounts of gluten are in the meat, and this can cause problems in your gut. Only buy grass-fed beef and gluten free chicken. (Our grocery store has some chicken that says “gluten-free” right on the label.)
- Only substitute necessary processed items such as gluten free tortilla shells or bread. Instead of buying salad dressings, develop a taste for salads filled with yummy veggies and olive oil as a dressing. (In our household, we only eat salads with olive oil and occasionally balsamic vinegar. The salad tastes so much better and we have the peace of mind that our bodies are getting healthy fats.)
- Plan ahead. When out and about, pack a baggie with cut up fruits and veggies or mixed nuts for a nutritious snack. When eating at restaurants, ask your server for a gluten-free menu. Most restaurants are pretty accommodating, even if they don’t advertise it. Two of the best gluten-free menu’s I’ve found are at Olive Garden and P.F. Chang’s.
Ease into it
My personal experience going on a 100% gluten free diet plan came at a time when my health was declining rapidly. After two months of only eating gluten free food, I discovered that I couldn’t maintain a healthy body weight due to an infection with cystic fibrosis and some complications from PTSD and a miscarriage. That was a year ago, and today I have a healthy body weight. Although I don’t follow an entirely gluten free diet plan, I make sure to buy as many gluten free items as I can. I feel much better when I don’t eat so much gluten!
The most important thing to remember is this: changing your lifestyle to a gluten free diet plan should not be entered into hastily. It will take some planning. It will take an enormous amount of will power and commitment. Ease into it if you have to and focus more on eating real food.
Mandy B. Anderson is a Certified L.E.A.N. Coach and author of the book “In Sickness and In Health: Lessons Learned on the Journey from Cystic Fibrosis to Total Health.” She is the owner and CEO of True Wholeness Coaching where she passionately shares health and faith building tips to thousands of people through weekly newsletters, a BlogTalk Radio Show, and health classes. Her passion for helping others live beyond their circumstances has made her a sought after inspirational speaker and health coach. Mandy lives in North Dakota with her husband, Nate and their dog, Ajah. Visit her at MandyBAnderson.com.