Gluten free eating has gained attention and popularity in recent years. This is probably partly due to increased awareness of Celiac disease, which requires a gluten free diet for treatment. It is also likely due to increased awareness of wheat allergy and wheat intolerance, both in kids and adults. For more information about the differences between these conditions, as well as accompanying symptoms, see my previous blog, Is Gluten Bad for You?
Unless you fall into one of the above mentioned conditions, going gluten free will not necessarily improve health. In other words, eating wheat (which contains gluten) in moderation is perfectly healthy, especially if it is whole grain wheat. Some people wonder if going gluten free can help with weight loss. The answer is, not necessarily. If wheat represents a large part of your family’s caloric intake, then removing wheat without replacing it with other equally calorie-dense foods could result in weight loss. Or if your family’s diet contains a lot of high calorie processed foods made with wheat, and you remove these and replace them with lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and other whole grains, then you will definitely see health improvements. But removing wheat alone will not likely result in weight loss.
In any case, it is always good to eat a variety of foods in regular rotation of family meals. Since wheat is so prevalent in many of our households, it might take some thinking ‘outside the box’ to make gluten free meals.
Examples of gluten free meals and snacks:
- Breakfast: Chex, Gorilla Munch, or other gluten free breakfast cereals, oatmeal (Note oats do not contain gluten but because they are often grown and processed closely with wheat, there may be cross-contamination. This is only an issue for people with Celiac, in which case the oats must be verified grown and processed 100% gluten free), scrambled eggs, yogurt and fruit.
- Lunch: Salad with tuna or chicken and olive oil/vinegar dressing, Southwest style baked sweet potato with black beans, salsa, cheese, and cilantro, lettuce wraps with chicken, cheese, hummus and other veggies, and grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly using gluten free bread with a banana.
- Snacks: Any fruit or vegetable, hard-boiled egg, corn chips with homemade guacamole, rice cake and nut butter, nuts and seeds, Larabars, edamame.
- Dinner: Chicken and bell pepper fajitas on soft corn tortillas (ingredients- corn, lime, water) with brown rice and black beans, chicken or shrimp and vegetable stir fry flavored with tamari (gluten free soy sauce) over brown rice or quinoa, steak with baked potato and corn on the cob or steamed veggies.