Help! Gluten free diet is making me fat!
Hi! This post really has nothing to do with my kids, time to focus on us! Gaining weight on a gluten-free diet is common, but also manageable if you make the right choices. Some gluten-free substitutes can contain a higher calorie counts than gluten-containing foods. For instance, white rice is gluten-free but one cup of cooked rice contains 204 calories and a mere 0.6 grams of dietary fiber. Of course, many ready-made gluten free products are made with white rice flour.
Another reason for weight gain from a gluten-free diet is that gluten free products are many times higher in calories to make them taste better. As you know, gluten is a sticky, stretchy protein that gives structure to baked goods, breads and pasta. There may be added fats and sugar in GF products to help compensate for the different texture. I think generally, we all can agree that limiting processed foods is healthier, but sometimes the convenience is key.
This goes without saying, but I will emphasize it anyway : make sure your body gets 30 minutes of physical activity everyday. For reference, an individual weighing 150 lbs can burn about 90 calories by walking for 30 minutes. Regular exercise can add up benefits and keep you slimmer and fitter.
Satisfy your hunger with healthy foods
High-fiber foods make you feel fuller for longer on fewer calories. If you’re eating primarily low fiber gluten-free foods, you may be inclined to eat more to feel fuller, resulting in an increase in calories. You will also notice that you are hungry an hour after you ate! Try to eat fruits and veggie snacks to quell your hunger. Also consider adding high-fiber foods such as brown rice, millet, amaranth and quinoa into recipes. As many of you know, I like to add ground flax seed or psyllium powder to baked goods or potatoes to boost the fiber and nutrient density.
Cut down on ‘junk’ gluten-free food and go lean, nutrient dense
Have you been snacking a bit too much on gluten-free crackers, cookies and brownies? Seems every week when I go to the store, there is a new product that is made gluten-free. Sometimes it just so fun to try something new ….. and then maybe get carried away. (not that I have any first hand experience with that HA!) Keep a firm control over the added calories you’re consuming as a result of your snacking habits.
Nutrient dense, protein and fiber filled snacks will keep you motoring through your day:
Apple with nut butter (or sunbutter)
Sugar snap peas with hummus
Greek yogurt with blueberries ( I mix in a Tb of ground flax of chia seeds)
Hard boiled egg
Goat cheese stuffed mini peppers
DIY trail mix
Grilled veggies and pesto
Avocado with whole grain crackers (try Mary’s)
I think I’ll work on a few more recipes to fit this bill.
Stick to a balanced diet
Common wisdom dictates that a varied diet is a healthy diet. It is possible to go gluten-free and still enjoy a diverse diet, regardless of whether you prefer to eat naturally gluten-free foods or specially made non-gluten breads and pastas. There is an extensive range of fruits and veggies to put on your list as well as unprocessed meat products, dairy products, beans, nuts and seeds, and an array of other whole grains. Including a salad with every meal helps you fill up with fiber rich, nutrient dense foods before possibly over-consuming higher calorie foods. Watching the portion sizes can also go a long way in preventing weight gain. Here are my tips in a nutshell:
Fiber! eat more
Eat more protein
Whole grains, foods a must
Reduce refined carbs (like crackers, cookies, pasta)
Plan snacks ahead – include protein and fiber
Move for 30 minutes a day
Read food labels – less processed, whole foods you can pronounce, lower sugar content
I think another blog post about snacks may be in order – but perhaps focusing on the kiddos. Let’s face it – they are not easily persuaded to eat more whole grains. Do you have any go to snacks or tips to share?