Gluten Free Fitness

celiac disease

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

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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 😉

Gluten Free Fitness in the Media: New Free Resources Available

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I recently partnered with the good folks at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to create a few more awesome resources for the gluten free and celiac community.

The NFCA is always updating their site with new and cool information and events, so make sure to check back in often.

  • The first new resource is an on-demand version of the live webinar that I presented entitled “The Gluten-Free Effect on Athletes: Improving Performance Through Diet” Click here and scroll down until you see that title, then you can choose to watch the webinar or download the PDF of the Power Point presentation.  Also on that page is a downloadable guide to the gluten free status of some commonly found sports supplements and energy/protein bars.  (As always, that was correct and current at that time, but always double check and read labels.  Things change.)  There’s also some homemade protein bar recipes and the short version of the Q&A.  I ran out of time to address all the great questions that were submitted, but will do that on an upcoming episode of the Gluten Free Fitness and Wellness Podcast.
  • The second new resource is a Media Planet insert that was in the Chicago Tribune.  It’s 8 pages and full of great info.  On page 5, athletics and celiac disease is discussed, and that’s where I come in.  Check out the whole insert, good stuff abounds, and you’ll see some familiar faces and names.  Click here for the insert.
  • The third resource is a patient handout that was developed for and published in the Advance Magazine for Physical Therapists.  It’s a one page sheet with the basics of celiac disease, how celiac disease can affect performance, and some gluten free snack ideas.  It’s a handy way to introduce people to celiac disease if they haven’t a clue, and will be useful to educate family members as well.  Click here for the handout.
All of these are excellent places to start if you have been newly diagnosed, or are looking for easy to understand information to share with family members.

If you are kicking around on here for a while, you’ll want to check out Gluten Free and Fit 101, where I’ve compiled posts that I think would be most helpful to those starting on a gluten free diet, or those who have been eating gluten free, but are ready to kick up their nutritional know how and health status to the next level.

If you have checked out any of these resources, I’d love to hear your thoughts!  What did you like, what did you feel was missing, what other information do you think would be helpful?  Myself and the NFCA are always listening and ready to provide education for the celiac and gluten free community that they want to see, hear, and learn.

Go forth and learn!  Or teach!

Labor Day Weekend Edition: Gluten Free, Celiac and Nutrition Goodies and News

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Happy Labor Day weekend to everyone here in the US!

I find it completely crazy how fast time is flying by.

First, a special announcement

I was asked by the NFCA to help out and present a webinar titled “The Gluten-Free Effect on Athletes: Improving Performance Through Diet.” This free webinar will be taking place on September 21st, at 8:30 PM EST. (Yes, Kristin at the NFCA (who has been incredibly helpful and awesome, by the way) has talked me into staying up past my normal bedtime. Ya’ll can tell me a bedtime story after the webinar.)

Click here to register.  Make sure to sign up ahead of time, because we will be accepting audience questions before the event.  I’m very excited and happy to be involved with such a great organization and event.

OK, onward!

Gluten Free and Celiac Stuff
  • Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free has designed a Labor Day Menu for you.   Total yummies.  Definitely check it out.  I bookmarked some of these to make for our “not really a wedding reception” party here at the house in October.
  • Karina, the Gluten Free Goddess, shared a recipe for Gluten Free Peach Cobbler.  The recipe looks fabulous, but my favorite part of the post is her commentary.  Check it out, I’m not giving a spoiler.
  • Carrie at Ginger Lemon Girl shared a guest post from David Abed on Gluten Free Hurricane/Disaster Preparedness. This is important stuff for us all, and I am especially aware of it living in South Florida.  We are now in the busiest part of hurricane season, and although the past few years have been quiet, we cannot be complacent.  The memory of 3 weeks without power when Wilma hit here is very fresh in my mind, and of course no one can forget Katrina.  Be prepared for the worst, and then everything else is a pleasant surprise.
  • Everyday Paleo is a blog devoted to feeding a family paleo-style.  They are gluten free by choice, not necessarily for celiac disease, and share lots of tips and recipe ideas.  I especially liked this one for Paleo Pizza.
Nutrition News
  • I’ve mentioned before that I like to use coconut oil and coconut flour in recipes, and did so in my Cookies that are Almost Good for You post.  There’s lots of information out there on coconut products, but I always like to see it from a neutral (i.e. not financially involved) standpoint.  Stephan at the Whole Health Source blog is one smart gluten free cookie, and he is doing a series on tropical plant fats.  This post examines the science behind coconut oil.  If you are even a little bit a science geek like me, you’ll dig Stephan’s blog.  I made a new recipe using coconut cream that I’ll be sharing this week.
  • Dr. Stephen Wangen wrote a great post on Understanding the Healthcare Business. This is important stuff.  I’ve been working in healthcare for 14 years (holy cow) and have seen it from every angle.  As a provider, as a patient, as a case manager for insurance companies, and as a specialist appealing denials, I’ve seen it all.  It’s so important for people to understand their policy, what it covers and what it doesn’t.  Do this when you are well.  There’s lots of confu  Understand sing language, so don’t hesitate to make a call and get someone to explain it to you in plain English.  Nothing is free, ever.  If your policy covers an ambulance ride 100%, great.  But it’s not free.  Either you are paying for it in your premiums, your employer is, or the taxpayers are.  Nothing is free.  Understand your policy, and be your own healthcare advocate.  If you can’t, find someone who can.  (Steps down from my soapbox.)
  • Eat An Apple (Doctors Orders). Love this.  I hope this becomes more common.

That’s it for today!

Everyone have a happy, healthy, and safe holiday, or weekend at the very least.

And do it all gluten free!

If you’re stuck indoors, check out Gluten Free and Fit 101 for some goodies to keep you busy. 🙂

The Magic Bullet for Living a Healthy Gluten Free Life

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The Magic Bullet for Living a Healthy Gluten Free Life

No, not the Magic Bullet, one of my favorite small kitchen appliances… Not a pill, or potion, or lotion, or gimmicky late night infomercial product or fitness program…

Actually, it’s not very sexy at all. But, it will get you closer to your goals than a kitchen gadget, a pill, a potion, lotion, or gimmick.

It’s awareness.

Awareness

Since you can’t package it and sell it, I’m afraid this little tidbit may be receiving less attention than it should.

If you’ve been reading my rantings, you may have heard me rant about this before. I believe that celiac disease is a blessing in disguise, a built in necessity where we HAVE to become more conscious of what we put in our mouths.

Awareness can extend much further than the gluten status of a food though

1. Be aware of how much you move-sitting, standing, lying. Be conscious of your movement or lack thereof, and try to add more general movement to your day.

2. Be aware of how eating different foods make you feel. Do you feel energized or listless? Do you feel good or no so good after eating french fries or something with a list of unpronounceable ingredients longer than your arm? (Gluten free of course-whatever it may be.)

3. Be aware of your sleep patterns. Many, many of us aren’t getting enough sleep, and that can lead to issues with appetite and weight control. On top of feeling tired, which just stinks. I am guilty of trying to get a lot done in a small amount of time, I understand totally. But sleep is crucial. 7-9 hours is ideal. Really. I get up at 5AM, but I’m lights out by 9:30-10 PM.

4. Be aware of your stress levels, and minimize them whenever possible. If you find yourself getting aggravated, try to focus on your breathing, count to 10 in pig latin, whatever it takes to talk yourself down. Every day life throws a lot of chronic stressors our way, and we’re just not built to live well under that constant low level stress. It’s very different than the stress of running from a lion, you know? In that case you run and it’s over. If you find this interesting, a great book to check out is Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky.

5. Be aware of the nutritional value of your food. You don’t have to change anything, just take a look-see. You may find that your habits begin to slowly change, and gravitate toward more “healthful” foods just by being aware of your choices and not just grabbing by habit.

So it’s not a pill, or a potion, or a lotion, or a gimmick. But give it a try and see what happens. You may be surprised what a little awareness can bring you.

Leave your experiences with awareness below…I love to hear from you guys!

 

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

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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

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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!

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

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Weight issues. You see it everywhere. Commercials on TV “Eat pizza and still lose weight!”, in magazines “take this pill and lose fat effortlessly!”, and in life-someone telling you about the “detox and I lost 20 pounds!” The upshot is that any weight lost with a “get thin quick” scheme will be rapidly regained. Sometimes even more fat/weight is gained then was originally lost.

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. Some of those factors are out of your control-others are within your control. In this part, we’re focusing on actionable steps you can take. In other words-what can you do about it?

In the celiac world, I’ve seen many posts on forums about people who have gained weight-either before going gluten free or after. It’s not unique to the celiac/gluten intolerant population by any stretch-a review in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010 reported that 68% of the United States population is overweight or obese. That’s completely staggering. The health consequences can not be overstated. I touched on them briefly in my post on Gratitude, Awareness and Prevention.

Losing fat isn’t complicated, but it’s also not easy.

Regarding celiac disease/gluten intolerance and weight, although there are some specific areas that deserve special consideration, there is one overriding principle that always is the primary issue. Calories. Doesn’t matter how you count it, track it, or measure it, calories are the most important factor when it comes to weight management. Of course the quality of calories matters, but the number one factor is amount. Amount of energy you are taking in, versus amount of energy you output through activity. Every single successful weight loss program has people tracking calories in some way, even if it’s a very subtle way of doing it.

  • Counting points? Yup, that’s a way of tracking calories.
  • Counting portions? Si, senor.
  • Counting macros? (Grams of protein/carb/fat) Oui!
  • Using a portion “plate“? Yes ma’am! (By the way-these things are way cool and I wish I had come up with them. Elegance in simplicity.)
  • Measuring/weighing your food and keeping a daily log? Of course-and my personal favorite because it’s the most precise. (I like precise. As precise as possible.)
  • Eating your protein and veggies first, and then if you have room adding something else? Indirectly that will reduce your caloric intake.
  • (Ok-there’s one method that doesn’t really count, and that’s intuitive eating, and will be the subject of another article.)

The major principle to notice is that these methods all have you tracking your intake, in some way. Some just “trick” you into doing it and may be more appealing to your individual personality.

Caveat

One caveat-all these are estimates at best. Without blowing up our food in a calorimeter before we eat it we don’t know exactly, and there’s always some error. But it’s a great starting point. With everything, you start somewhere, track it so you know what you’ve done, and then you can adjust based on your personal real world results.

Doing some kind of tracking of calories is especially important when you have a disruption of the normal function of the gut, as is the case with celiac. As I touched on in Part 2, there are important hormones involved in appetite, hunger and satiety (the sense of being full) which can be affected by the gut not functioning normally. With this, our signals of hunger and fullness may not correlate to what we need to maintain our weight.

It’s like this-for someone with a normally functioning intestinal system and normal weight, the senses of hunger and fullness can fairly accurately help someone maintain their weight. (If they listen to these cues, which again goes beyond the scope of this particular article.) If these signals are off, the sense of hunger may be higher. I have seen people commenting very frequently how hungry they feel all the time, especially when first diagnosed as the gut is still healing.

Math vs. feeling

If we can’t depend on our hunger/fullness, we need to do the math. And truly, relying on hunger cues to maintain your weight is very reasonable, but much less so when you are losing weight. Losing fat means eating less than you need to maintain your current status, which logically means you will feel hungry sometimes. And that’s OK, and should be expected, and not freaked out over. If you want to lose fat, and expect to never feel hungry, you’re wrong. Despite what any magic pill may want you to believe.

Keeping track of what you eat doesn’t have to be complicated. After a little while, measuring and tracking becomes second nature, and not hard at all.

Here 5 steps you can take NOW to make it easier to control your weight.

1) Don’t drink any calories.

This sounds so simplistic, but it’s completely true. A 500 calorie coffee drink will do very little to nothing to make you feel full, and give you a whole bunch of nutritionally empty sugar calories. Same goes for juice. Yes, juices have some redeeming qualities, but you are much better served by eating a piece of fruit. More fiber, more satiety, chewing, and the vitamins. Just chew. (Hmmm…”Just Chew” T-shirts?)

2) Add a vegetable to each meal.

Many of us don’t come close to getting in 7-9 servings of vegetables a day. The good news is that a serving of vegetables isn’t very much-half a cup in most instances. You can put that away easily, and it will help you feel full. I do quite like the idea of adding food in the form of veggies when you are dieting because it minimizes the sense of deprivation-you’re ADDING food!

Yes, it’s nutritionally dense, low calorie food, but it makes your plate look full. That’s a win/win. Perception is reality, peeps. If you think you don’t like veggies, try some new ones. Eat the ones you like. Don’t cook them into a mushy mess. Eat them first to “get them out of the way so I can enjoy the rest of my meal” like my fiance. I don’t care. Just eat them. Fruits too-but focus on veggies first.

3) If you feel hungry, drink a big glass of water and then reassess.

Many times we mistake hunger for thirst. Give it a try next time. I’m also a big fan of brewed teas-they give a lot of flavor, polyphenols and antioxidents, and no calories. (Don’t add a bunch of sweetner-defeats the purpose.)

4) If you have a snack, include a protein source and a veggie.

Examples:

  • Deli turkey (Boar’s Head is gluten free) wrapped around baby carrots-makes you eat slowly also.
  • Broccoli or sliced peppers dipped into cottage cheese or greek yogurt (you can add seasoning as well to your dip)
  • String cheese and snap peas. Combines the crunchy and creamy cravings.
  • Here’s a list of my Top 10 portable gluten free snacks

5) Move more.

All the little things really do add up. Take the stairs, park farther away, take a lunchtime walk at work, walk the dog, window shop, just move. Organized exercise is great-but it doesn’t make up for 12-15 hours sitting on your duff. Move.

If you are saying “But I don’t want to keep track of what I eat” I have this to say to you.

How much do you want to lose fat and be healthier?

When you make that decision, you make time, and make the effort to do what is important to you.

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

Gluten Free Protein Powder Reviews

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Gluten Free Protein Powder Reviews and Recommendations (or not!)

Protein powder. It can be so useful, so tasty, so convenient! It can also be completely vile tasting, or worse, make us sick due to cross-contact or hidden gluten. This page is for us all to share our experiences with protein powders, so we can learn from each other and hopefully spare ourselves from wasting money on a product that is nasty.

Please, please be aware that reformulations do occur, so always check labels prior to ingesting any product. If in doubt, contact the company directly.

Here’s what to do
  • Leave a comment below indicating the brand of protein, flavor, and quick summary of the nutrition facts if you have the label handy. Please also indicate the gluten status-if you’ve contacted the company please include that information, if there’s a gluten free label, no gluten containing ingredients, etc. Whatever is applicable.
  • Add your review: How was the flavor, the consistency, the mixability? Would you purchase it again? Feel free to use a 1-10 scale if you would like.

Of course, taste is individual, and what one person finds delicious another may find revolting-but I’m hoping that this will give us a good starting point.

Here are a couple I’ve done

Bring the reviews! I will be adding more as well. 🙂

Weighty Matters: Physical and Psychological Impact: Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance

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In Part 1, I told you how I was a cheater when it came to implementing the gluten free diet. Today, we’ll go over some mechanisms behind why we see weight gain and weight loss with celiac disease.

Physical and psychological causes

There are 2 categories to take a look at-the physical, and the psychological. Both have impact on weight management-the psychological is just as powerful as the physiological. We’ll look at issues in both categories. In parts 3 and 4 we’ll cover steps you can take to positively impact your weight and health.

First, the physical.

Physical reasons behind weight loss and celiac disease/gluten intolerance:

  • With celiac disease (gluten sensitive enteropathy), there is damage done to the villi in the small intestine. The damage limits the ability of the intestine to absorb nutrients. With limited absorption, less overall calories and also less vitamins, minerals, etc. Many times a person may feel so sick that they just can’t eat enough to make up for the poor absorption. Worse, they may be eating more of the foods that are actually making them sick without realizing it.
  • People can feel so unwell when they eat they just eat less. Less often, and less in amount. Decreased calories.

Physical reasons behind weight gain and celiac disease/gluten intolerance:

  • Decreased absorption of nutrients can contribute to people never feeling “full.”
    They eat more, in frequency and/or amount. Eventually the calories get absorbed, and it catches up. After diagnosis, there may also be a small overcompensation effect of the gut to absorb nutrition.
  • When your gut begins to heal and absorb nutrients, you may find that you gain weight.
    The nutrition and calories that was just going thru you before in now being assimilated into your body. This is a good thing from a health standpoint. If you listened to part 3 of the podcast with Shelly Stuart she mentioned how she gained a bunch of weight after her gut began to heal. She had been accustomed to eating large amounts of food because it wasn’t being absorbed. When absorption increased, so did her weight. So she recognized that and scaled back on portions, focusing on quality and nutritionally dense foods. The upshot here-you may have been eating more food than you actually needed before, but some of it was going straight into the toilet. How’s that for a visual?
  • The damage and affects of celiac disease may impact the hormones in our gut that control appetite and satiety (the sense of being full.)
2 main hormones are leptin and ghrelin.

Quick definitions per Medical Dictionary.com:

Leptin:
hormone indicating degree of hunger: a hormone produced by fat cells that indicates the degree of hunger to the hypothalamus of the brain. (Tells you when you feel full and stop eating. Problems with leptin can lead to eating too much because “I’m full” doesn’t kick on.) Leptin resistance also appears to be a problem, as many obese indivduals have high levels of leptin, but are not recognizing the full sensation.

Ghrelin:
a gastrointestinal hormone produced by epithelial cells lining the fundus of the stomach; appears to be a stimulant for appetite and feeding.

A study done in 2005 in Italy using classic symptom female celiac patients (the underweight/malnourished classic) showed decreased ghrelin levels after 2 years of being on a gluten free diet, even though their body mass and fat mass had increased.

Another study completed on children with celiac disease showed leptin levels lower than non-celiac children, which then increased after one year on a gluten free diet.

A study in 2003 showed high levels of circulating ghrelin levels in adults with active untreated celiac disease, and normal levels of ghrelin in those who had been treated with a gluten free diet.

So why does this all matter?

We still don’t know, to be honest. This is an example of how our gut affects our hormones, and especially that as someone who has been newly diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you may feel especially hungry. There’s much more research to be done, and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what has already been done. But the take home is that our hormones dealing with hunger and the sense of fullness may be affected, and so may not be too accurate when it comes to saying we’ve had enough to eat.

The psychological

Which brings me to the psychological impact of celiac disease/gluten intolerance on weight:

  • After diagnosis there is an immediate reaction of “What can I eat?”
    The gluten free diet can feel overwhelming, with the huge lists of ingredients to avoid. First instinct may be to gravitate toward comfort foods labeled “gluten free,” and the attempt to replicate a “normal” carb based diet with their gluten free substitutes. Unfortunately, this can lead to weight gain. Many gluten free substitutes of ordinarily gluten foods have a higher number of calories. Many times this is due to the need to add additional fats to get a decent “mouth feel” in the product. With the proliferation of gluten free foods in the marketplace (a great thing for choice) also comes an increased need to be aware of the nutritional content and value of what we eat-to look “beyond the gluten free label.” Just because it’s gluten free doesn’t mean it’s good to eat in large quantities.
  • There is also a sense of Thank Goodness I can eat without feeling sick!
    This can lead to eating an increased volume of food as well-just being so happy that you don’t feel sick any more, and taking advantage of that.

Couple that with the fact that our innate mechanism of knowing when to stop eating because we feel full may be affected (we don’t know this for sure yet) because of some hormonal wackiness, and we’ve got some challenges.

In Parts 3 and 4 we’re going to look at steps you can take to impact your weight in a positive way, whether it’s a need to gain, or a need to lose.

If you have questions/comments/experiences, please leave them below. I like to hear from you-don’t be shy!

Probiotics and Gut Health: Say Hello to My Little Friend

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Probiotics. A popular word for sure right now. Looking around in the grocery store it seems like the healthy bacteria are being added to everything from yogurt to cottage cheese to coffee. (Kidding about that last one. Although given how much I love coffee, I’m not opposed to the idea.)

Probiotics by definition

Probiotic: A microbe that protects its host and prevents disease.

Probiotics are found naturally in the gut (stomach/intestines.) With antibiotic use, and sometimes with dysfunction of the gut (such as celiac disease) the balance of this “good bacteria” can be disrupted, and cause intestinal distress such as diarrhea. These little suckers can be a bit fragile, and not all of them can be ingested orally (eaten/swallowed) and survive into the digestive tract.

Different strains

There are many different strains of probiotics. If you think about antibiotics, there are lots of different prescriptions that we have seen or heard of over the years, right? Similarly, there are a number of different probiotics. Thousands, in fact.

However, there are only a handful of these thousand that have been researched upon and shown to be effective. Within the handful of effective ones, they may only be effective for certain conditions. So just ingesting a product with “probiotics” doesn’t necessarily give you any benefit. It depends on why you are taking them, and the strain of bacteria that is in the product. Unfortunately, the labeling for these products is often unclear.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a common probiotic. According to MayoClinic.com:

Lactobacillus acidophilus is generally considered to be beneficial because it produces vitamin K, lactase, and anti-microbial substances such as acidolin, acidolphilin, lactocidin, and bacteriocin. Multiple human trials report benefits of L. acidophilus for bacterial vaginosis. Other medicinal uses of L. acidophilus are not sufficiently studied to form clear conclusions.

It’s normally found in yogurt, and in lactose reduced milk. (Lactaid brand ’round these parts.)

Bifidobacteria

Another probiotic group known as Bifidobacteria (one of these strains is the one in the Activia yogurt-long live Jamie Curtis and her healthy bowels.) One of the methods of action is to slow the transit time of material through the intestines-again, reducing diarrhea.

The strain in Activia was produced specifically by Dannon and is known as Bifidus Regularis. As an aside, Dannon settled a class action lawsuit late in 2009 and has since altered the label claims.

Another strain of Bifidobacterium is bifidus infantis. This is the probiotic found in the product Align. Align is gluten free.

The Bifidobacterium probiotic strain appears to have real promise for those with intestinal disorders, including celiac disease and IBS.

Bifidobacterium appears to reduce the permeability of the intestinal walls in response to gliadin. This is especially of interest to those of us with celiac disease as the probiotic can help reduce gliadin’s (protein in gluten) damage to the intestines.

Recommendations were made at the Yale University Workshop in 2008 by a panel of 12 regarding the use of probiotics. Unfortunately, this paper is not available for free access (like so many I want to see,) but a summary from the NY Times stated:

A panel of 12 experts concluded that there was strong evidence that several probiotic strains could reduce diarrhea, including that associated with antibiotic use. Several studies have also suggested that certain probiotics may be useful for irritable bowel syndrome, with the strongest recommendation for Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, the probiotic in the Procter & Gamble supplement Align. (Two members of the panel had ties to Procter & Gamble; three others had ties to other companies that sell probiotics.)

Important to note that there is financial benefit there. That doesn’t mean their opinion should be discounted, it’s just something to be aware of.

Of course, if you have any questions, please contact your physician before starting probiotic use. They are GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the FDA, but individuals with immunodeficiency or active bowel infection are not recommended to use probiotics.

Align was kind enough to send me samples to try, and a month’s supply for one lucky reader! I used Align for a month, and can say I did not notice a difference. However, I am not a fair subject as I was already taking another brand of probiotic. Align also offers a money back guarantee if you are dissatisfied after trying it. That’s pretty impressive.

Align can be found pretty much anywhere-I saw it at Target and Publix.

If you’d like to win a free month supply of Align, leave a comment below and tell me what your biggest obstacle is to eating healthfully (if you have one), and/or your experience with probiotics. Winner will be randomly selected.

You can get another chance in the virtual hat if you re-tweet this post for my Twitter buddies.


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