Ask Shelley Case: Healthy Gluten-Free Eating
Shelley, can you give me some tips on how to eat healthy on a gluten-free diet?
March is national nutrition month so this is a perfect time to offer up some tips on eating nutritiously! The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Dietitians of Canada want to help consumers focus on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits not only in March but throughout the year.
Following a gluten-free diet can present certain challenges that arise when it comes to eating a balanced and nutritious diet due to the dietary limitations. Here are a few pointers and tips on eating nutritiously… and gluten-free:
Get your plate in shape everyday: When people first begin the gluten-free diet it is quite common to eat the same foods day after day such as rice crackers or rice cakes and white rice. This not only gets boring but can result in missing out on essential nutrients. To make sure you are eating adequate amounts from each food group use this food plate nutrition as a guide. Also check out Canada’s Food Guide for more information, including tips for choosing and preparing foods from each group.
It’s about the whole grain: Many gluten-free baked products, cereals and pastas are made from refined flours and starches such as white rice flour, tapioca, corn and/or potato starch that are low in iron, B vitamins and fiber. When choosing gluten-free products, select ones that contain whole-grains, such as amaranth, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats (pure, uncontaminated*), quinoa, sorghum, teff, and wild rice. And to find out more read my blog post on whole grains and how to incorporate them into your gluten-free diet.
Start your day out right- eat breakfast: It’s true. Breakfast helps you jump start your day both mentally and physically. A healthy breakfast fuels your body with food and provides key nutrients such as protein, iron, B vitamins, carbohydrates and fiber. Many traditional breakfast items are made with gluten-containing grains, especially wheat and barley. But not to worry- there are plenty of great gluten-free breakfast options available. Check out my blog to find more nutritious gluten-free options. http://glutenfreediet.ca/blog/?p=125
Eat more veggies and fruits: Whether you are on a gluten-free diet or not, most people do not get enough fruit and veggies! With a little planning and creativity it’s possible to get more at snacks and meal times. I like adding blueberries, strawberries or sliced bananas on my gluten-free oatmeal or granola. How about apple or pear slices and nut butter on a gluten-free waffle or toast? Baby carrots, sliced peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers make a great snack with hummus or low fat dip. Double up your portion of vegetables or serve a salad and a cooked vegetable for dinner. Need more ideas? Check out this link for tips on adding more fruit and vegetables to your diet.
Boost the nutritional content of sweet treats: For those with a sweet tooth incorporate fruit and gluten-free flours from whole grains, nuts and pulses (aka legumes) when making cookies, muffins and cakes to make them more nutritious. Need some ideas? Check out these recipes: Oatmeal-Berry Bars, Anise-Apricot Biscotti, Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler or Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti.
Remember quantity, as well as quality: Being overweight or obese are at an all-time high in North America, so controlling the amount you eat can help prevent these two epidemics. Many gluten-free products are high in sugar, fat and calories and low in fiber so check the nutrition facts label and compare products for the healthier option. Also practice eating slowly, eating food from a plate or bowl… instead of eating out of a bag, and being conscious of portion sizes, especially while dining at restaurants, can all help in weight management, and ultimately better health.
Get more nutritional information:
Check out my website for more healthy tips on eating gluten-free at: http://glutenfreediet.ca/blog/?p=330
Also contact a registered dietitian in your area for personal assistance.
Registered dietitians are uniquely trained and qualified to translate the science of nutrition into practical advice for people of all ages, whether you have a health problem or just want to eat better. Here are links to find a dietitian in the USA and Canada.