Gluten Free Fitness

Celiac disease

ABC News-Really? The disappointing news piece and the Gluten Free Fit opinion

41 Comments

Nightline, an ABC news show, aired an episode last week where they discussed the gluten free diet, celiac disease, and living with celiac disease.

Personally, I thought this particular piece was pretty terrible.

Kind of horrific, in fact.

Before I go any further into my rant, here is the piece so you can watch for yourself.  It was titled “Is Gluten Free Good?”

  • They start off with touting all the celebrities that are on a gluten free diet, and then of course, Chelsea Clinton’s gluten free wedding cake.  It’s portrayed as a fad diet right off the bat.
  • Celiac disease isn’t even mentioned until almost 2 minutes into the 6 minute clip.
  • Elisabeth Hasselbeck is pictured in front of a freezer, stating that this is where all her food comes from.  WHAT?! Are you kidding me right now?!  No mention whatsoever of ANY naturally gluten free food.  You’d think that there is no life, or even eating, without pasta.
  • She also states that she believes in “replacing” foods in a gluten free diet, not eliminating them.  I would agree with this if by saying replace, she meant replacing refined flour items with fruits, vegetables, all the naturally gluten free bounty that nature avails us.  But no.  She was talking about replacing gluten breads and pastas with gluten free substitutes.  Hence the need to stand in front of the freezer, and not in the produce section.  In my article on my top 5 choices of gluten free carbohydrate sources, not one of them is found in a freezer.
  • E.H. also encourages people to adopt a gluten free diet without any kind of medical testing.
  • Dr. Green (bless his heart) mentions that there are no benefits for those without celiac disease to go gluten free, and that there is no weight loss guarantee on a gluten free diet, as we all know.  I even did a 5 part series of posts about weight issues and the gluten free diet.  You can eat a crappy nutrition yet calorie dense gluten free diet just as easily as you can on a “regular” diet.
  • However, they also indicate that a gluten free diet can be dangerous.  WHAT?!?  Dr. Green actually says, and I quote “a gluten free diet is not entirely healthy.”  I will give him a little slack, in the sense that if someone is only eating refined and processed gluten free crap, that they will receive even less nutrition than the standard American crap diet.  This is true.  BUT (and this is a big but, people, really big, the biggest butt of them all[ intentional]) a gluten free diet can also be incredibly healthy. You have to look at the big picture!  Eat naturally gluten free real food.  Meats, fish, poultry, veggies, fruits, dairy (if you can tolerate it, another can of worms for another day,) nuts/seeds, oils, nut butters, rice, potato, etc.  There is a BOUNTY of naturally gluten free foods.   I GUARANTEE that a gluten free diet can be extremely healthy.  I GUARANTEE that you will get plenty of fiber if you just eat some damn VEGGIES!!
  • Dr. Green mentions calcium deficiency.  Many people, not just those with celiac disease or that are on a gluten free diet, have calcium deficiency.  He also doesn’t mention that many of those diagnosed with celiac disease are also intolerant to dairy, and thus must find alternative sources of calcium in their diets.  Or that the damage done to the villi often causes impaired nutrient absorption and therefore, deficiency.  I covered this in Common Nutrient Absorption Issues in Celiac Disease and What to Do About It.

Overall, I was incredibly disappointed.  There has been so many great news pieces done on celiac disease and gluten intolerance lately that this was like a kick in the teeth.  This was a wonderful opportunity for education and discussion on the beauty of naturally gluten free food, on the importance of eating “real food,” how you CAN get nutrition in your diet, how celiac disease is underdiagnosed, and it wasn’t that at all.

I understand it was only a short segment, and that editing is done to the Nth degree, and that what ended up in the final cut may not have been Dr. Green’s intention at all.  But the implication that a gluten free diet is inherently unhealthy really,really, ticks me off.

As always, it’s the choices you make in the QUALITY of your food that matter, not just the gluten or gluten free status.

OK, I’m going to jump down off my soapbox and give you guys the floor.  What did you think?

And, if you’re new here and didn’t get turned off by my little rant, go ahead and check out Gluten Free and Fit 101 for tips on how to get going on a HEALTHY gluten free diet.

See, you can tell I’m upset.  That’s a lot of caps 😉

Weight Management and Celiac Disease: Wrapping it Up, Gluten Free Style

3 Comments

There’s been a lot of ground covered over the past couple of weeks regarding managing your weight on a gluten free diet, and how celiac disease can affect weight control.

In Part 1 of this series, I revealed how I was a cheater at the gluten free diet. In Part 2, we covered some physical and psychological reasons why you may experience weight loss or gain with celiac disease/gluten intolerance. In Part 3, we reviewed some action you can take to lose weight/fat if you choose, on a gluten free diet. In Part 4, we covered strategies for gaining weight in a controlled and healthy manner if gaining is your goal.

The upshot of all this is that whatever you goal is as far as weight and/or body composition, you can achieve it.

And really, achieving those goals in within reach for all of us.

You choose a goal, make a plan to get there, and execute.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

In reality, it may not be quite that easy.

But it doesn’t have to be terribly hard. You can achieve what you set your mind to. You choose a goal-whether it’s to reach the top of those stairs, lose 20 pounds, fit into a smaller pant size, do 10 push ups, squat a bunch of weight, or run a marathon. The only thing stopping you-is you.

We need to get out of our own way. To set aside the preconceptions of our abilities. To shatter the expectations that others may have of us.

For today-choose one thing. Make that one thing your goal for this week. I was talking to a client yesterday, and her goal this week is to bump up her water intake to 3-4 liters a day. That’s a great goal-measurable, achievable and realistic. When that one thing becomes habit and no longer takes work, then you set a new goal. With time, all of these things add up, and you’ve changed your lifestyle in a maintainable way.

In my post on the gluten free diet as a lifestyle, I talked about the definition of “diet” and how it may be more beneficial to wrap our heads around the word/concept in a different way. This is your life. Live in it now, not with “if only” and “should have”.

What’s your goal for this week? Don’t be shy-post it below! When you put it in black and white, it becomes real. Go get ’em!

Weighty Matters: How to Gain Weight on a Gluten Free Diet

6 Comments

Whew! Part 4 is here.

As a quick recap-In Part 1 of this series, I revealed how I was a cheater at the gluten free diet. In Part 2, we covered some physical and psychological reasons why you may experience weight loss or gain with celiac disease/gluten intolerance. In Part 3, we reviewed some action you can take to lose weight/fat if you choose, on a gluten free diet. Finally now in Part 4, we’ll tackle the issue of gaining weight.

For many, celiac disease or gluten intolerance can cause an unplanned and unwelcome loss of weight. The difficulties in absorbing nutrients from the small intestine can lead to malnutrition, even with the best of diets. After a gluten free diet has been initiated, the healing process can begin. However, this may take some time, and will be dependent on many factors, including the severity of the intestinal damage.

Eliminating gluten, and being very careful and aware of cross contact and hidden gluten is the first step. If gluten is not eliminated the damage will continue and no healing, and therefore absorption, can occur.

Keep in mind that other food intolerances may be found in conjunction with celiac disease. Lactose intolerance is very common. Personally I am intolerant to soy. Shelly Stuart mentioned her corn intolerance in Part 3 of our podcast series. (She also touched on other issues that may cause continued intestinal distress after eliminating gluten such as parasites-obviously we recommend you follow up with your doctor for a comprehensive review of what may be causing continued symptoms.) Definitely check in with your doctor to make sure there are no other problems that may be causing you to have continued impaired absorption.

You can also ask your doctor about supplements that may speed along the healing process. L-glutamine and probiotics are worth looking into. I think a good gluten free multivitamin is never a bad idea, and talk to your doctor about fish oil. Of course-the most important thing is making sure you are getting optimal nutrition from your food.

In gaining weight, we are looking to add calories that will give great nutritional value as well. After all, you wouldn’t run a high-end Ferrari with low test gas, would you? So don’t expect your body to be able to give you healing oomph! and performance on crappy food. We’re talking about lots of good food.

Here’s 5 steps to help bring your weight back up where you want it:

1) Start your day with a good breakfast.

No, I’m not your mother, but I sound like it don’t I? Seriously though, breakfast is the most abused meal. People forget about it all the time, or have a coffee and call it good. That won’t work. Prepare ideas ahead of time so you can get going with minimal time and effort. Here’s my egg bake that I cook up on Sunday and have for the week. And here’s a portable “pancake”. Heck, some chicken if that’s how you roll. Greek yogurt, string cheese, fruit, smoothies (Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free has an awesome Green Smoothie recipe-I’d add some protein like hard boiled eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese or protein powder and you’re good.) Shelly Case just wrote an article on breakfast foods on the Be Free For Me blog. My recommendation is that you try to have a decent protein, carbohydrate and fat source in the meal, which brings me to….

2) Have a decent protein, carbohydrate and fat source in each meal.

Now don’t throw up your hands, I saw that!
This is not rocket surgery.
Once you get the hang of it, it’s very easy to do, and doesn’t take extra time at all. Here’s an example:

For breakfast, I have some of my egg bake casserole (protein from egg whites, veggies from spinach and tomato), some gluten free oatmeal (carbohydrate) with berries (fruit carbohydrate) and slivered almonds or flaxseed (healthy fat.) If you’d like listings of more ideas in each of those categories, here’s a list of my top 10 gluten free carbohydrate sources.

3) Eat every few hours.

There’s no magic to this, but if you are trying to get in extra calories it’s often easier to split them up over the day, rather than stuffing yourself like Thanksgiving turkey. And instead of stuffing yourself you can…

4) Sneak in extra calories.

Eat calorically dense food that doesn’t make you full. Examples of this would be olive/coconut/your favorite oil, nut butters, and nuts or seeds. Basically healthy fats-they pack more calories per gram than your carbs and protein. If you can’t do nuts, check into sunflower or pumpkin seeds. I haven’t tried it yet, but Shirley over at Gluten Free Easily has used Sunbutter in some of her recipes. It’s a sunflower seed butter.

Along with that, drink some calories. The exact OPPOSITE of what I wrote in the article about losing weight. Protein shakes with some added fats (chocolate protein and peanut/almond butter shake, anyone?), milk, almond milk, hemp milk, etc and so on. If you need to, a couple shakes or smoothies a day would be a fine way to get in extra nutrition. In no way did I look at all of these to see if they were gluten free, but Smoothierecipes.net has an extensive database of drinkable calories.

5) Like a good Scout, always be prepared.

Never let yourself get hungry. Never let yourself be without something gluten free and good to eat. Here’s my top 10 portable snack foods. Also consider premade or homemade protein bars/brownies. Larabars are low on protein, but tasty as heck. Zing Bars are a staple in my house for traveling.

Regardless though, my go-to-fail-safe-can-even-take-it-on-a-plane-without-getting-patted-down is a empty shaker bottle with a scoop or two of protein powder, and a bag of nuts. My friend Kim also just reviewed some gluten free jerky I’m going to have to try, although it’s more stinky than protein powder and nuts.

Keep something with you-in your car, your purse, your pocket. (Hey-is that a Zing bar in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?)

So there are some ideas to get you started! Keep in mind-as your gut heals, you will begin absorbing more nutrients. When you heal, you may find yourself gaining weight much faster than you intended, so keep reassessing where you are and where you want to be.

What are your thoughts? What have you done to put weight back on? What challenges have you faced? Share them below and let’s help each other out!