Should we be eat­ing gluten-free?

South Shore Breaker - - AUTO - JAN­ICE AMIRAULT IN­SPIR­ING CHANGE edi­tor@southshore­breaker.com

Rea­sons for avoid­ing gluten vary from per­son to per­son. Some choose to limit their in­take, while those with celiac dis­ease can­not tol­er­ate even the tini­est amount. Health ben­e­fits of avoid­ing or eat­ing less gluten, as re­ported by some clients, in­clude en­hanced di­ges­tion, in­creased en­ergy, im­proved con­cen­tra­tion and men­tal fo­cus and clearer skin. What­ever the rea­son for avoid­ance, the de­mand for gluten-free prod­ucts con­tin­ues to grow. Statis­tics show that in 2014, the global mar­ket for gluten-free foods was worth around US$4.21 bil­lion, with the pro­jec­tion of US$7.59 bil­lion in 2020.

I’m not a fan of ready-made, gluten-free al­ter­na­tives, how­ever. I pre­fer to make my own and here’s why. Mass-pro­duced gluten-free prod­ucts are of­ten lower in fi­bre and higher in car­bo­hy­drates than their gluten-con­tain­ing coun­ter­parts. Ad­di­tion­ally, they most al­ways con­tain some form of added sweet­ener such as high-fruc­tose corn syrup (HFCS), malt bar­ley, rice syrup, glu­cose, dex­trose and mal­todex­trin, to name a few. For in­ter­est sake, di­ets con­tain­ing an in­creased amount of high­fruc­tose corn syrup and added sug­ars have been as­so­ci­ated with obe­sity, di­a­betes and heart dis­ease in both adults and chil­dren.

Big food com­pa­nies have got­ten wise to the un­healthy rep­u­ta­tion high-fruc­tose corn syrup has de­vel­oped — and some are still us­ing it — but un­der an alias. Vari­a­tions to look for in­clude: nat­u­ral corn syrup, iso­lated fruc­tose, maize syrup, glu­cose/fruc­tose syrup and tapi­oca syrup. Not only do th­ese types of sweet­en­ers con­trib­ute to dis­ease, the danger here is that con­sum­ing foods that con­tain them as one of the top in­gre­di­ents can lead to overeat­ing. Th­ese sweet­en­ers in­ter­fere with the hor­mone that tells our brain that we are full, and be­fore we know it, we’ve eaten too much.

Many gluten-free prod­ucts are made with un­healthy trans fats. Like HFCS, trans fats have been shown to in­crease the risk for many chronic dis­eases such as, heart dis­ease, stroke and Type 2 di­a­betes.

I’m al­ways on the hunt for healthy gluten-free recipes for my­self, and to share with my clients. Al­though my eat­ing style has changed over the years, some days I crave a sand­wich or a cracker. Like me, those who have re­duced their gluten in­take, or have given it up all to­gether, are usu­ally thrilled when they find an ac­cept­able al­ter­na­tive.

Thank­fully, through trial and er­ror, I have dis­cov­ered how to make my own healthy gluten­free flat breads, crack­ers, crepes and wraps. I must say, I find them all very sat­is­fy­ing. My go-to crepe/wrap is one such ex­am­ple.

Try­ing a new gluten-free pizza crust recipe, I was dis­ap­pointed, as my first at­tempt was a bit of a flop. The crust was heavy and doughy in the mid­dle, and be­cause I re­fused to use the oo­dles of oil the recipe called for, it stuck to the pan. Lik­ing the idea that gar­banzo bean (chick­pea) flour was gluten-free and the or­ganic va­ri­ety was read­ily avail­able, I didn’t give up. I sim­ply added more liq­uid and came up with my own ver­sion of socca crepes. Be­sides the flour, the only other in­gre­di­ents are wa­ter, choice of sea­son­ings and a lit­tle co­conut oil. I’ve also had suc­cess with adding an egg to the bat­ter, mak­ing the crepes a bit more sub­stan­tial for mini piz­zas or “pita” chips. Th­ese crepes are per­fect for any sand­wich fill­ing, as well as tacos, and even desserts. If time is a con­cern, and it is for most peo­ple th­ese days, they can be made ahead and kept re­frig­er­ated for a few days, or frozen be­tween sheets of waxed or parch­ment pa­per.

Di­ets are as in­di­vid­ual as peo­ple, and whether a per­son chooses to eat gluten or be gluten-free, or some­where in be­tween, I sug­gest eat­ing whole foods and keep­ing an in­take of pro­cessed foods to a min­i­mum.

I in­vite you to try my socca crepe recipe (posted on the gallery page of my web­site at www.jan­i­cein­spir­ingchange.com). Also, if you are in­ter­ested in more gluten-free recipes and healthy meal ideas, visit the Jan­ice In­spir­ing Change Face­book group.

Jan­ice Amirault is a Reg­is­tered Holis­tic Nu­tri­tional Con­sul­tant (R.H.N.) prac­tic­ing in Bridge­wa­ter and Yar­mouth. Amirault can be reached via email or on­line at www.jan­i­cein­spir­ingchange.com.

123RF

There are var­i­ous gluten-free op­tions for flour that can be in­cor­po­rated into any diet, such as al­mond, cashew and rice flour.

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