New and Improved
By Melissa Diane Smith
Avoid the most common pitfalls of the gluten-free diet—and naturally enhance your overall nutrition.

The idea of going on a gluten-free diet is to improve health and feel better. Some people can adopt the gluten-free diet as it’s typically prescribed and feel well. For most, though, the gluten-free diet is a great starting point but not an end. It’s an eating plan that we can gradually adapt in individual ways to customize the best diet for each of us. Want to enhance your already gluten-free diet? Try these diet guidelines, which can also help you steer clear of common pitfalls in the gluten-free diet:

Go gluten free naturally. It’s tempting to buy a lot of food products labeled gluten free, but you should mainly purchase naturally gluten-free foods, such as vegetables, fruits, poultry, fish, and meat. Stocking up on whole foods and creating meals with them is the best way to avoid even trace amounts of gluten and to eat a diet rich in nutrients that support health.

Be choosy about the food products you buy. Look for foods that aren’t made with refined white rice flour (often labeled as rice flour as opposed to brown rice flour) and starches, such as potato or tapioca starch. Eating nutrient-poor refined ingredients sets us up for nutrient deficiencies, weight gain, and chronic diseases.

Become more unrefined. Do your best to steer clear of foods with other refined ingredients—namely, refined sugars and refined fats—known to promote degenerative disease. Refined sugars include sugar (typically listed as evaporated cane juice on food labels), high-fructose corn syrup, and fructose. Refined fats include vegetable oils, such as corn, soybean, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, and partially hydrogenated oils. Seek out unsweetened foods as staples in your diet, and for special occasions, select gluten-free desserts that are sweetened with natural sweeteners such as honey, stevia, or fruit juice concentrate.

Eat more against the grain than you’re used to. Gluten-free grains are high in carbohydrates and relatively low in nutrients compared to the carbohydrates and calories they provide. Most vegetables, on the other hand, have considerably fewer carbohydrates and are much higher in vitamins and minerals. Eating more vegetables in place of grains is the overlooked secret to long-term weight control and optimal health that people miss.

This article was excerpted and adapted from Gluten Free Throughout the Year: A Two-Year Month-to-Month Guide for Healthy Eating (Against the Grain Nutrition, 2010) by Melissa Diane Smith.




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