A Gluten-Free Life: The Good, the Missing, and the Risky

Chef Beau's Klean Kitchen

Congratulations! You’ve decided to go gluten-free.

Maybe you are allergic or have a sensitivity to wheat. Maybe you have celiac disease, a serious genetic autoimmune disease. In either case, for you, excluding gluten from your diet is essential to good health and well-being.

Or maybe you read about the elimination diet and, in an effort to eat healthier, you decided to exclude gluten from your diet. You’re going to take a big step, clean out the cupboards and fridge and refuse to order or buy bread, pasta, cereal, or beer – even fried chicken! 

Good for you – you’re on the right path. And I can help you move farther down that path and become even more healthy and energetic. I did it and you can too!

How does gluten sensitivity affect you?

If you have any form of gluten sensitivity, you have most likely experienced at least some of these physical, emotional or mental health issues:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Abdominal pain and bloating
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Itching or hives

Here’s the good news. A gluten-free diet may be the solution to some if not all of these issues that are related to gluten insensitivity. It can make the difference between a life of sluggishness and discomfort to a life of energy and alertness.

And it would be great if simply eliminating gluten from your diet would guarantee healthy results. But being gluten-free does not always equal healthy eating. It’s a little more complicated than that.

Why a gluten-free diet is not always a healthy diet

Many people think that, by eliminating obvious sources of gluten from their diet, like bread, pasta and beer, all they need to do is find gluten-free substitutes for their favorite foods. By swapping out wheat bread for gluten-free bread, or checking labels to make sure no gluten products are listed, they believe they are maintaining healthy eating habits.

But many of the gluten-free products now on the market are highly-processed and contain potentially harmful ingredients. Some of the most common non-healthy additives found in gluten free foods are sugar, sodium, fat, and preservatives, as well as artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors.

In addition to what food manufacturer put into boxed, canned, and frozen foods are ingredients that contain GMO’s or genetically modified organisms. For people most sensitive to gluten, eating products that contain GMO’s can be even more harmful to your system than the gluten you are avoiding.  Unfortunately, the use of GMO’s seems almost unavoidable. Crops used to feed animals are often genetically modified, which is then passed on to and found in the butchered meat. Most processed food contain GMO corn or soy. The list of foods containing GMO’s include everything from aspartame to infant formula to veggie burgers and condiments, like ketchup and soy sauce.

Unfortunately, the U.S. government does not require manufacturers to reveal their use of GMO’s on food labels or descriptions. 

But with simple and consistent changes in your shopping, cooking, and eating habits, I can help you avoid these pitfalls and find real benefit from eating gluten-free.

Gluten-free, not fiber-free

Another important fact you must keep in mind when you consider eliminating all gluten from your diet is that gluten is a source of essential fiber and nutrients your body needs.

Fiber keeps your body in shape, clean, and regular. It also aids in several other body systems that require our attention, especially as we grow older, like keeping cholesterol levels low and controlling our blood sugar. And because high-fiber foods are filling, you eat less and stay full-feeling longer which helps you maintain a healthy body weight.

When fiber is missing from your body, you may experience constipation, a rise in cholesterol, and chronic fatigue. Ironically, when gluten in present in your body, you may experience the very same symptoms.

So, careful meal planning is critical for both what is eliminated from and what is present in the foods you serve.

I can help you work fiber back into your diet while still keeping you gluten free. We will find delicious ways to use beans, legumes, as well as plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds right in your own kitchen.

The truth about processed foods

There is a lot more that goes into making and keeping your diet both gluten-free and healthy. One of the biggest issues you will face if you are new to the gluten-free life is making or selecting food that tastes delicious without the use of ingredients that contain gluten or those pesky and prevalent GMO’s.

Let’s face it. You probably don’t pay too much attention to the labels on the foods you buy. Even if you are diligent and keep track of how store-bought food is made, the labels don’t always list the ingredients that do the most harm: food dyes, additives, and GMO’s. Also found in many convenient boxed or canned foods are preservatives we can’t even pronounce.

Even people who seem fit, trim, and happy fall victim to eating foods high in fat and sugar, readily available and not one bit healthy. Busy life-styles, high stress jobs, family schedules, and home maintenance provide excuses to eat on the run or prepare food in our own kitchens that claim to be healthy and smart, but which really just provide quick meals that fill us up with no redeeming or healthy qualities.

How can you maintain your family’s health and well-being?

For years, fad diets, cleanses, and medication have been the answers people accepted to deal with physical and many emotional problems. When you are over-weight, you fall for the latest craze to lose that twenty-eight pounds, only to regain it – and more – in record time.

If you’re feeling a little sluggish or your body isn’t regular, you are convinced that doing a cleanse or eating raw will solve all of those problems.

Although these programs may claim to flush out toxins and unwanted waste, I urge you: use caution. Our bodies are designed with a pretty effective waste and toxin removal system. Watch out for man-made programs that may flush out the essential electrolytes and microbes which benefit our entire digestive system.

Now, as far as medication is concerned, don’t get me wrong. We live in an era in which innovative medications, vaccines, and procedures are saving lives and improving the quality of life for many people. But for many, they are on medication to simply offset the effects of poor or improper eating. 

While very powerful and many time helpful,  medication does not necessarily solve all of the aches, pains, and other symptoms that make our lives miserable. In fact, some of the prescribed medications for hyperthyroid conditions, digestive problems, and even emotional disorders not only mask the real source of the problem, but also introduce dramatic side effects. 

What really works in many cases, even severe cases, is a change in diet to what is right for YOU.

Going gluten-free and getting healthy

That change to a healthy diet is exactly what I can show you how to do. As I meet with you and your family, we will work together to find what common factors may be leading to a lackluster life, chronic pain, or even mood disorders like depression and anxiety . If you have already established a gluten-free diet, we’ll find out what you may be missing and how to re-introduce those important nutrients and fiber into your diet– or how to get rid of the harmful GMO’s. We’ll find the “good” snacks and the best recipes to meet your goals.

And I’ll be walking with you every step of the way. As we work together I will:

  • show you how to decipher what those ingredient labels really say.
  • teach you about the benefits of probiotics
  • help you find the right combination of food and activity to match your taste and lifestyle goals.
  • coach you when the going gets rocky or difficult.
  • encourage you to keep your goals in sight and achieve and new and healthy lifestyle.

Wanting to make changes to improve your life or that of a family member is the hard part.  I can help your family not only survive without gluten but to also thrive.

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Chef Beau's Klean Kitchen