Gluten Free Fitness

Celiac disease

Gluten Free Lectin Free

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Gluten Free Lectin Free

I read too much.  I study this stuff too much, I listen to every bit of information I can find on celiac disease, gluten intolerance, nutrition, exercise, and all of it. Sometimes I think my head may explode.  One thing I am unflinching on is my right and ability to change my mind.  I have ideas and positions on things, but if I learn something that makes me change my mind, I will.  I reserve my right to flip-flop should the evidence point me in that direction.  I reserve the right to be wrong, and to change my position. And so do you.

There are always new ideas being explored, new bits of information being discovered, and with each one of those things there are individuals that put their own spin on them. Let the confusion commence. Wouldn’t you agree?  I am sure you have experienced the same… right?

Isn’t it confusing enough without the news outlets adding to and feeding on the confusion? For every hypothesis or idea that is put forth, there is almost certainly a bit of research somewhere that can support it.  Almost as certainly, there is also a bit of research that will refute it.

It’s all about the spin.

I’m not implying a huge conspiracy theory, but I am saying that data can be twisted and skewed to support almost anything.  It doesn’t always happen, but it can.  Simply keep your eyes open and take in all of the information, then make your own informed decision.

One of the confusing issues I’ve been learning more about lately is lectins.  More specifically, the role of lectins in autoimmune disorders, specifically celiac disease as the focus of discussion on this site. There is some evidence that it could be beneficial for those with autoimmune disorders to avoid all lectins.  Lectins may be implicated in dysfunction with the hormones that make us feel full.  There are some who feel very strongly that the evidence points in this direction, and there are others who think it’s a load of hooey.

What are lectins?

Lectins are proteins that bind to carbohydrates or glycoproteins (proteins that contain carbohydrate chains). These proteins termed lectins (from the Latin legere, “to select”) have the ability to bind to specific carbohydrate molecules. Lectins allow cells to bind or communicate with each other and are found in every living organism, including viruses and bacteria, with most of them being harmless. This stems from research as far back as the 1880’s.

So I continue to learn in an attempt to make an informed decision.

This particular branch of my own personal nutritional education came from some of the research I was doing when I posted the original “Paleo Diet for Celiac Disease” post.  Lectins are in many carbohydrate sources, both gluten and non gluten containing.  They are generally found in tubers, grains, and legumes.  The argument is that lectins can cause or exacerbate autoimmune disorders (and possibly contribute to leptin resistance, which deals with weight regulation.)  This paper was fairly neutral on the subject, but did raise the idea that lectins could affect the intestinal flora (gut bacteria,) which as we’ve learned recently could have a significant impact on celiac disease and gluten intolerance, along with other gut disorders.

It’s really interesting stuff and as far as I’m concerned, it needs more study. If you find additional information, please feel free to school me. Am I going to give up my rice?  Not yet, although I am reserving my right to flip flop.

I was in the car, listening to a podcast with Matt Stone of 180 Degree Health.  I dig Matt’s perspective because he is always learning and questioning things.  He said one thing that really hit home; the discussion was about the Paleo way of eating, and the thing that Matt said that struck me so strongly was this:  (paraphrasing as I didn’t pull over)

They’re focusing on the wrong bad guy.  Instead of worrying so much about Neolithic foods, we should be more concerned about the food that has come about in the 20th century.

Well yes! Now that makes sense. It’s less about the corn, and more about the Corn Pops. I’m all for maximizing our nutrition, for making it healthy and tasty and awesome.  But maybe it’s just baby steps we need to take for now.  It’s not Paleo, or Atkins, or South Beach, or calling Jenny today. Just eat real food as it is produced from mother nature.

Where to start

Eat real food?  Yes… eat real food grown naturally and eaten naturally.  Food that will rot if it’s left too long, that doesn’t necessarily come in a package with all of the preservatives. This is what I’ve said all along, but sometimes it’s easy to start getting caught up in the minutiae of lectins.

It’s easy to start looking at the differences in eating methods and approaches to food, but it’s much more effective to look at the similarities, and incorporate those into your life. There will always be differences, but focus on the commonalities.

The biggest one-eat real food.  Eat naturally gluten free real food.  Meats, fish, poultry, veggies, fruits, dairy (if you can tolerate it) nuts/seeds, oils, nut butters, rice, potato, etc.  There is a BOUNTY of naturally gluten free foods.  Here’s my top 5 favorite gluten free carbohydrates sources too.  (yes, quinoa has saponins, which are anti-nutrients)

And you can always check out Gluten Free and Fit 101.  Which I think I need to add to again after learning more and more.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! What’s the easiest way for you to live gluten free and well?

Parting (with Gluten) is Such Sweet Sorrow…Or Is It?

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Parting (with Gluten) is Such Sweet Sorrow…Or Is It?

Imagine this…

You’re in the doctor’s office.  You’ve been through a battery of tests, you feel like doo-doo on a stick.  Your hair is falling out, your body aches, and you have no energy.  You’re scared to death, because so many of your friends and acquaintances have either been diagnosed with cancer lately, or know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer.  You sit, on the hard chair, and you wait for the doctor to enter the room.  It seems like an eternity that you are waiting (and depending on the doctor it might be.)  You really want to try to read your chart, but they’re slick and have it on the other side of the door.

So you wait…  And you wonder…

Am I sick?  Is this going to be bad?  I know I’m sick, but exactly how sick am I?

And you wait some more, and the worst case scenario in your head keeps getting worse.

Finally the doctor enters the room and shakes your hand.  “How’re you feeling?”  Just dandy, doc, that’s why I spent 2 hours of my life in your waiting room, and my hair is falling out. But what you really say is “OK.  What did the tests say?”

He flips open your chart and rummages through the papers at the front.

“Let’s see here…negative, negative, normal, good, oh wait.”

An eternity passes.  Maybe 5 seconds.

“You tested positive for celiac disease.”

What the $%*& is celiac disease?

If you have a good doctor, this is where they give you solid information, and maybe a referral to a dietitian.  If not so good, or just poorly educated, you might just be told to not eat gluten.  Here’s another option if you require a “2nd opinion” –

I have seen/heard people who are just furious that they are no longer supposed to eat gluten, and have to give up (gasp!) “regular” food.

Seriously?

No, really.  Seriously?!?!

Think back.  When you were scared straight in the doctor’s office, and you thought you may be dying – is (insert glutinous favorite food of your choice here-pasta, cereal, bagels, etc) really that big of a deal?

No, really.  Think about it.

  • Do you have to go through chemo?
  • Take lots of toxic medications?
  • Be on medicine for the rest of your life?
  • Be separated from family and friends?
  • Do you have to have surgery?
  • Do you have to go through physical rehabilitation?
  • Are you sentenced to a life of chronic pain?
  • Will you be able to ever eat anything again?

No?  Didn’t think so.

All we have to do is not eat gluten.  We have the choice, and the ability, to heal ourselves.  A diagnosis of celiac disease can be a blessing in disguise.

It’s all in how you choose to approach it.  And yes, it is a choice.

You choose.  In the immortal words of Bruce Springsteen, “you gotta learn to live with what you can’t rise above.”

Why just live with it when you can rise above, and let living gluten free enrich your health and your life.

It really is a beautiful “burden”. You choose.  Your perspective on celiac will color every bite of food you take.

You choose.

Choose to see the huge, wonderful, varied world of naturally gluten free foods.  The bounty of meats, poultry, fish, eggs, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, oils, etc and so on and so on!  Look at what you CAN eat, not what you can’t.

For more reading about my philosophy on living gluten free:

The Easiest Gluten Free Diet

And if you want more, Gluten Free and Fit 101 has a lot more in store, including more ideas for dairy and gluten free protein powders.

And that should give you enough reading for a while.

If you STILL want more, or you just want a step by step, simple, checklist  approach to cleaning up your diet, check out 7 Quick Start Tips to Living a Healthy Gluten Free Fit Life

So what will you choose?

Intuitive Eating: You Eat Therefore you Think

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Intuitive Eating – Getting your Mind into your Food

What does our brain have to do with eating anyway?

Well, as it turns out, quite a bit.

If you have struggled at all with eating or weight issues, you’ve no doubt heard that people eat “mindlessly” or that eating is often used to deal with emotional issues that may have nothing to do with hunger.

Even if you have NOT struggled with eating, you’ve likely heard these terms. Food, eating, weight-they are all a huge part of our culture.  Especially now that approximately 33% of Americans are overweight, and another 34% are obese.  The implications of these numbers are staggering.

There’s always the search for the magic pill, the miracle exercise plan, the instant fix. There are thousands of diets, immense numbers of diet books, and a new weight loss guru every day showing up on the internet.

Celiacs have a special challenge with weight loss due to the absorption issues in the gut; and then there are also hormonal wackiness in some celiacs. The idea of intuitive eating is a huge subject, and one that I have wanted to discuss for quite a while.  It’s such a huge subject that I was hesitant to tackle it, as it is a very individual journey.

I listened to a podcast where Carla and Shauna discussed their views on intuitive eating.  They also expressed what a giant subject this is, and provided their own personal views on intuitive eating.  (Carla also mentioned she was gluten intolerant, which of course I found very interesting.)  The podcast gave me the kick in the butt I needed to write this.

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So what the heck is intuitive eating?

Photo credit krilm

In their podcast, Carla and Shauna renamed it “mindful eating” which I like quite a bit.

I have written in the past how awareness of what you eat can benefit you from a health and weight perspective.

Authors Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch have written a book titled Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works I read this book several years ago, and keep it handy for reference, which I still do from time to time. On their website, they give this definition:

“Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body.   You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom.   It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant “food worry” thoughts.  It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person does not change because you ate a so-called “bad” or “fattening” food. “

The truth is, that intuitive or mindful eating is going to have a slightly different definition for everyone.

We attach so much emotional value to food. In its most basic form, food is fuel.  But to many of us, food also represents celebration, tradition, and family fun time.  To some of us, food also represents loneliness, comfort or escape and that’s where we start to run into problems. Not only do we eat when we’re hungry, we eat when we’re bored, lonely, upset, happy, driving, watching TV, or any other time.

Imagine if we ate only when we were low on fuel

Imagine if we didn’t let food define us, allow it to control if we see ourselves as “good” or “bad” (ie: “I was good today, I only ate lettuce” or “I was bad today, I had a chocolate cake”.) Maybe then we could start to get this obesity crisis under control.  Maybe we could separate our feelings of self from our eating pattern.

Intuitive eating is not a diet, just as eating gluten free is not a diet.

And food has no inherent control on who you are.

It’s my personal opinion and experience that a combination of intuitive eating and structured eating is the way to go for weight (fat) loss.

For maintenance eating,(staying at your “happy size” when you get there)  I think a full on intuitive approach is definitely a great way to go.  I do think that as you are actively losing weight, that there may need to be an additional component of calorie control.  You absolutely can eat too much, even if it is “clean and healthy” food and never lose the fat.  In these instances, you would have to limit your caloric intake by measuring/weighing/using portion control.  Calories do matter, I don’t care what zealots of any given diet plan say.

To lose weight (fat) there must be a higher caloric expenditure than there is intake.  That means you may feel hungry.

Feeling hungry is not fun, but it won’t kill you either, especially if you have a lot of fat to lose.  This is why I think that a more structured eating plan is necessary in a fat loss phase, especially for celiacs whose gut hormones may be a bit wacky.  If you feel hungry and you are intuitively eating, you would eat.  But that won’t help you if you’ve already eaten the maximum calories for the day which will still allow you to lose weight.  You end up spinning your wheels and getting frustrated, “I’m doing everything right but I’m still not losing weight!”  In these cases, almost always, it’s a case of too many overall calories.  Even if they are healthy calories.

Carla had a great idea on the podcast.  She suggested keeping a food diary which indicates not just what you eat, but how you feel before, during and after eating an item.  I think this is a fantastic idea.  I suggest keeping a food diary… be sure to add in the awareness component to your writings.

The key in the beginning is to keep the diary without changing anything.  No judgments on yourself, just write it down as this helps set the baseline of where you are now.  What you eat, how much you eat, and how you feel – before and after you eat.  After a week or two, you will see a large increase in your awareness of what you are putting into your mouth, how often you are putting food into your mouth, and how it makes you feel.

Now go back and review your diary.  Notice anything? If you notice that you are eating when you are already full, then stop doing that. If you notice that you are eating after a meeting, then stop doing that. (It’s like the guy who goes to the doctor – Doc, my arm hurts when I do this – the Doctor responds with “stop doing that”).  I know I know – it isn’t that simple… right? Some things aren’t that easy to just stop.  I get that! The key is “awareness”.  As you become more aware, the “just stop” will take care of itself in time.

I know I am over simplifying, but the most important thing is to do something. Today. Now.  If you are unhappy with how you look or feel, it is up to you to make a change. You can do it.  You are stronger than you think.

Over on the Gluten Free Fitness Facebook page in the discussions tab we have a “goals and accountability” section where you can post your goal and get support and a kick in the butt if needed, so swing by and join us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please pipe up on what you think of intuitive eating, your experiences and opinions.

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