A word on gluten, fluffy deliciousness and fibre…



My first thought when I get asked about gluten free diets is ‘eeeeeeek!’

…More than anything, I aim for my patients to have a diet full of variety and to feel confident about enjoying whole, fresh foods. Often I find the elimination of any food group can result in a more ‘mono’ diet and the slow creep of food fear.

So, hopefully this little post will help with that.  Gluten can often be a ‘driver’ of  symptoms of ill health. For all those suffering with bloating, vague constipation, skin conditions and allergies, it is definitely worth considering the role gluten plays in your diet. Why??

Gluten isn’t all bad, after all, gluten containing foods are often the foods that  have the highest fibre in them too. Also, gluten is what makes our breads white and fluffy and, frankly, delicious!!

Unfortunately, that same fluffy deliciousness can be very difficult to digest. Gluten is the protein component of wheat and can also appear in many of our processed foods as a stabilizer and thickener. If the only gluten we ate was once a day in a great quality organic sourdough baguette (yes, I’m dreaming of Paris right now!) I predict we wouldn’t have nearly the amount of ‘gluten intolerance’ in our community. However, gluten appears many times in our diets in a variety of foods we may or may not realize. And it is for this reason that getting savvy about gluten and what foods it’s in, may help to relieve a few chronic health issues.

Maybe this is your month to take a Gluten Holiday and enjoy making friends with other grains??

The key to keeping your gluten holiday a healthy one is:

  • Maintaining variety in your gluten-free grains
  • maintaining your fibre intake
  • re-introducing gluten slowly
  • having an understanding of the highest to lowest gluten containing foods so you can maintain a low intake as a management of symptoms longterm
  • remembering that just because a label says gluten free doesn’t mean it’s healthy (I’m thinking of those gluten free choc-coated cream filled biccies here!) and the basic rules of a healthy diet still apply

Below I have a list of gluten free grains to help with maintaining variety…

amaranth- use as a grain, puffed breakfast cereal, is high protein, lysine, calcium, & iron, mix with another flour/ground nuts or may become gummy

arrowroot- use as flour, use as thickener for soups and sauces, tasteless

barley- use for soups, as a grain, pot barley has some bran; pearl barley has no bran **contains gluten**

chestnut- use as a flour; Village Bakery bread thickener, best gluten free bread on taste tests

chickpeas- use as gram flour, falafel, bread, couscous, poppadoms, tinned, best flour on taste tests for pastry and sponge cakes, good for soups and bean salads

lentil- use as a flour, is protein rich

maize (corn) use as polenta, pasta, flour, corn cakes, porridge, sweetcorn, cornflakes, tortilla chips, good for cakes, biscuits, corn bread

millet- found as flakes, porridge, burgers, flour, grain - contains protein, minerals, and B vitamins

potato flour, best used as a thickener

quinoa - is protein and fibre rich, B vitamins, vitamin E, add to porridge, use instead of rice

rice- flour, puffed rice cereal, ground rice, rice cakes, pasta, milk, grain

sago- use as a flour in soups, sauces, puddings

soya - flour, milk, and is protein rich

tapioca - flour, flakes, pearls- use as thickener, puddings

wild rice - mix with normal rice to increase fibre content, very filling!

yam - use as a flour in soups, baking

Gluten free sources of fibre to include with most meals: barley, lentils, fresh fruit and vegetables, prunes, LSA, psyllium husks

Stay tuned for more info on going gluten free, foods to avoid and foods to enjoy…