Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gluten...What Is It and Should You Avoid it?

By now I am sure you have heard the word gluten and have seen gluten free sections in your grocery store, but do you know what it is and if you should be avoiding it in your diet?  Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye.  It can be found in foods like breads, pastas and even in sauces and soups.    A gluten intolerance is when your body can't process the protein found in these foods.  Everyone experiences different symptoms, but some include bloating, gas, fatigue, joint pain (due to inflammation), and starchy carbs and sugar cravings.  Celiac disease is much worse than an intolerance as it prevents your body from absorbing nutrients. 

In my last post I shared that I am taking gluten out of my diet because I feel like I may have a gluten intolerance.  Since then I have been getting some questions about what it is and what some of the symptoms are.  I can only speak from my experience, some of my symptoms include things like bloating, fatigue, brain fog and then cravings for more carbs and even sugar.  I have taken gluten out of my diet before and felt a major difference in how I felt and even how my stomach looks.  In the past 4 days that I have avoided gluten, I feel better, my bloating has gone down and I am no longer craving starchy carbs and sugar.  If you feel like you may have an intolerance to gluten the easiest thing to do is take it out of your diet and see how you feel.  You can also ask our doctor to be tested if you want to be sure.

It is definitely easier to avoid gluten now that it is well known, however be sure to check everything for gluten or wheat, most food items will tell you if it contains common food allergens with wheat (gluten), being one of them.  If you stick to real whole unprocessed foods and make your own sauces and soups it is easier to avoid.  However if you are going to try gluten free products, just remember that just because they are gluten free does not automatically make them healthy.  There are tons of gluten free products on the market, but they are still processed foods and still contain carbs.   If you want to make your own gluten free foods, I found a great resource at Gluten Free Goddess for baking tips and substitutions. 

If you are thinking of taking gluten out of your diet or have any questions please feel free to contact me.  I am happy to help if I can.

I just want to take a moment to say THANK YOU to all of those who have offered their support and kind words about my return to my blog!  It really means a lot to me that you took the time to offer your support.  I am excited to be back at it and to share my love for healthy living with you all!

Check back tomorrow for my first of many, Feature Fridays!  I hope that these stories inspire and motivate you as much as they do for me.