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Gluten Free Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Healthy

Posted Sep 05 2012 10:07am

Gluten Free Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Healthy

September 5, 2012 By Michelle VanderHeide, BSW

My family started down the gluten free path several months ago. The first thing I did was empty my cupboards of everything that contained gluten so that I didn’t need to worry about whether particular items fit our new lifestyle. My cupboards and refrigerator were safe for everybody. The next thing I did was to run to the store and buy things to replace what I had removed. I bought gluten free brownie, cookie, and muffin mixes; chips, crackers, bread mixes, and a slew of different flours. While I was in the process of determining which gluten free foods we liked, I was doing a lot of baking and a lot of throwing food away. The foods that required no flour asked for a lot of sugar, such as fudge and no bake cookies. My dentist husband observed that our gluten filled foods turned to sugar filled foods. He wisely asked me one day, “Do we really need to replace these foods?” It was like a truck hit me. Who really needs cookies, muffins, and brownies?

If you are like me, it’s good to take a moment to stop and think from time to time. Here are a few things to consider when reflecting on diet and your family.

  1. Observe your diet. It often helps to write down for a week what you and your family members eat each day. Using this list, you can make sure you are rotating your foods and getting a good balance of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains. Once you do this, you can make a list of all the foods your family will eat so you can reference it while meal planning.
  2. If there are foods in your home that are troublesome for you or a family member, get rid of them! Do you or your child crave sugary food? What about ice cream or a late night salty snack? If it’s not there, it can’t be eaten!
  3. Try one new thing each week. The best way to do this is to incorporate it into a meal that you know the family enjoys. If your new food leaves your family griping, at least there are other good choices available. If it’s a hit, you have something new to add to your list of foods.
  4. Preplan your meals for the week. Having this thought out and planned at the beginning of the week makes grocery shopping a lot easier, and it’s one less thing to think about each day.

One of the best things that has happened over the last six months is that we have become more of a fruit, vegetable, meat, rice, and potato family. My kids continue to discover more and more foods that they enjoy as we cook up a new vegetable or try potatoes yet another new way. I even discovered that I like cauliflower with just a little olive oil, salt, and pepper! I never would have guessed that my kids would eat black beans, mushrooms, and rice. I’ve even figured out how to sneak flax and chia seeds into almost everything I make. Buns? Who needs them? Large lettuce leaves work like a charm. Give it a try, and let us know what works for you. I always love getting good tips to make meal planning and eating gluten-free just a little easier!

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