By Wendy Gregory Kaho
There’s a lot of talk right now about the gluten-free diet and weight loss. Whether it’s the latest celebrity claiming the pounds are falling off while avoiding gluten or discussions on blogs and Facebook, weight loss is tied to a gluten free lifestyle. For those of us who have been gluten-free for a while due to celiac disease or another gluten-related disorder, weight loss and gluten-free don’t always go together.
When I first went gluten-free 5 or 6 years ago, I lost 35 pounds. I ate a naturally gluten-free diet that omitted all gluten-containing foods, with very few gluten-free replacements. At the time, there weren’t many good gluten-free breads or baked goods to tempt me and the availability of gluten-free flours was limited.
Back when I was walking nearly every day to help with the swelling and discomfort of my gluten reactions, the pounds did literally melt off. Then I started a gluten-free blog and started sampling all the processed gluten-free foods that were flooding the market and sitting at a desk working on my computer. I gained back the weight and then some more. This is a typical scenario for a lot of gluten-free people. As our intestines heal and our body starts absorbing nutrients and calories, there is a tendency for those with celiac disease to gain some weight. If we aren’t careful about the food choices we make when we replace the gluten-full foods in our diet, we can be adding lots of sugar and fat and white processed starches, gluten-free flours and, of course, pounds.
I’ve turned to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) and their free webinars to help me refine my diet to be full of nutritious foods that can help my kids and me heal after years of misdiagnosis. Their archives have webinars I joined or listened to later that help me make better food choices. Past topics have been ‘Gluten-Free Heart Health,’ ‘Food As Medicine for Celiac Disease: Nutrition Beyond the Gluten-Free Diet,’ and ‘How Well Is Your Digestive System Working.’ I like that they are practical, easy-to-understand and easy-to-apply webinars presented by professionals who are current on the research into celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. The Internet is full of gluten-free information and opinions and it’s hard to know who to listen to. I know I can trust NFCA’s information and I know they will provide alternatives since many of us have additional food sensitivities to dairy, soy and other things along with our gluten issues.
April’s free webinar is called ‘Maintaining a Healthy Weight While Eating Gluten Free: The Importance of Physical Activity and Mindful Eating.’ Topics to be discussed are how Body Mass (BMI) is affected by the gluten-free diet; recognizing the signs of physical vs. emotional hunger and recognizing trigger for mindless eating; strategies for managing food portions and tips for selecting healthier options from pre-packaged gluten-free products; and understanding the key differences between “diets” and lifestyle changes. View their complete schedule here.