Should You Eat Gluten Free? Part Three

Eating Gluten Free For Weight Loss

Christi

A picture of me taken in 2013.

Gluten free is everywhere – in restaurants, on food packaging, and in grocery stores.  The “GF” label with the little grain of wheat has slowly taken over.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the label.  I do wonder how many times I say, read, or write the word “gluten” in one day!

But you’re not here to listen to me whine.  You’re here to discover the mysteries of the GF diet.  Can one lose weight by saying sayonara the “Big G”?

Yes!  And no.

Whether you’re ditching gluten to lose weight or eliminating it for health reasons, keep reading to learn how to eat gluten free the happy, healthy way.

Straight Up G

There’s a right way and a wrong way to live the GF lifestyle, and I’ve done both.  When I first had to eliminate gluten from my diet, I gained 10 pounds!  And I was dairy free as well.  That’s right – no cheese, no french rolls, and I still managed to pack on the pounds.  I had a few realizations during that process, and now I’m going to share them with you!

So, without further ado, I present The Wrong Way and The Right Way to be a Gluten Free Gangsta…

The Wrong Way

In 2009, I was diagnosed with Leaky Gut Syndrome.  I was put on a rotation diet for two months, and discovered several food intolerances.  Gluten, dairy, avocados, bananas, mangos, cashews, grapes, and turkey were my body’s enemies.  The rotation diet was necessary but bland.  All the joys of food had been taken away from me!

After my intolerances were identified, I was free to slowly introduce foods back into my diet.  It was then I discovered the wonderful world of GF and dairy free packaged foods!  I had been through so much, I told myself.  I deserved to eat like everyone else.  My self-pity was my justification, and my reason for gaining the weight.  This lead my to my first realization:

A Gluten Free Cookie is Still a Cookie

When flour is removed from baked goods, other ingredients need to be added to provide the same taste and texture as regular foods.  Gluten free cookies, pretzels, crackers, cake, bread, and bagels have the same, if not more, sugar and calories than their glutinous counterparts.  So, while we are removing gluten from the diet, we are consuming the same calorie content.  The same goes for organic versions of our favorite snacks.  Organic cane sugar is still sugar!

To lose weight, whether we choose to go gluten free or not, we have to limit these empty calories.

The Right Way

 Restricting or removing food choices feels like dieting.  And diets fail when we feel restricted.  I didn’t have a choice; I had to eliminate gluten and dairy (notice I’m not crying over the mangos or bananas at this point).  Because I couldn’t control my restrictions, I chose to change my way of thinking.  This lead me to my second realization:

Add, Don’t Subtract

Rather than obsess over the foods I could no longer eat, I needed to focus on the foods I could eat.  And the foods I could eat turned out to be sooo much better for me!

Gluten free diets (and diets in general) are successful when we replace refined-flour foods with whole foods – foods that fuel our body.  When we focus on adding nutritious food choices, our desires and cravings for simple carbs (sugars) will lessen.

Make it a goal to add these foods into your daily regimen:

Salad with quinoa

Green salad with quinoa.

  • Greens – the number one food to improve your health are greens.  Kale, spinach, swiss chard, and broccoli can be added to a green smoothie at breakfast or a salad at lunch.  And contrary to popular belief, greens do fill you up, and keep you full because of their high fiber content.
  • Grains – gluten free grains like quinoa and brown rice can be cooked ahead of time and added to a salad.  Quinoa also makes a delicious, protein rich breakfast – it’s similar to oatmeal when topped with dried fruit, nuts, and honey.  Teff, buckwheat, and millet are also versatile grains.  Google different grains, or look them up on Pinterest to find great recipes!
  • Beans and lentils – once or twice a week, use beans or lentils as the star of your dinner instead of meat.  They’re inexpensive, nutritious and versatile.  I love to add kidney beans or chick peas to my salads.  Use them in chili, or make a pot of pinto beans for tostadas!
  • Snacks – nuts (in moderation), nut butters, fresh fruit, air popped popcorn, granola, and hummus with veggies are all excellent, gluten free snacks.  Make sure you’re eating out of hunger, though, and not habit.  If you want a snack but aren’t hungry for fruit, you’re probably not hungry.  Drink a glass of water instead, and see if the urge to snack goes away.

    Tostadas

    Tostadas made with homemade pinto beans. Do you think there’s enough cheese and sour cream? Good Lord, that’s embarrassing!

Losing weight on a gluten free diet is really about changing to a whole foods way of eating.  There are so many delicious, naturally gluten free choices, but we can’t appreciate them when we’re eating flour, sugar, and chemically enhanced flavors.

Retrain your taste buds to taste the sweetness of a carrot or strawberry, the creaminess of an avocado, or the savory flavors of roasted cauliflower.  It won’t happen overnight, but it can happen with small changes and goals.

My goal is to help you make those changes for a happier, healthier life!

I’d really like to know if any of you have a similar story, or if you find any of the above tips helpful.  Drop me a line and let me know what you think!

~Christi

Also in this series:

Should You Eat Gluten Free? Intro

Should You Eat Gluten Free? Part One

Foods: Gluten vs. Gluten Free

Should You Eat Gluten Free?  Part Two

Should You Eat Gluten Free?  Conclusion

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Comments: 2

  1. Jennifer Nilsen July 18, 2014 at 5:28 PM Reply

    I have enjoyed reading the GF series Christi. Althought the tostados were cheesy, the articles were not!

    • Christi July 19, 2014 at 9:57 AM Reply

      Thanks so much, Jen! Your compliment means a lot. 🙂 I enjoyed writing it.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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