Keeping up with what’s healthy can feel overwhelming at times.
Eggs are bad for you, eggs are good for you; fats are bad for you, some fats are good for you. The reality is that certain things have always been bad for us, but truth sometimes gets lost in the pile of “get thin quick” diet fads. There are also some foods that, while not necessarily “bad” for you, cause health issues for certain people.
Low carb diets have occasionally worn the label of “fad diet” throughout the years. In reality, foods loaded with simple, processed carbohydrates have always been bad for your health. They offer little in the way of nutrition while also carrying a high-calorie content. What’s more, processed carbohydrates are highly addictive, keeping you coming back for more.
Gluten is a protein found in many grain-based foods, but it is also added to products to make them creamier, even non-food items such as shampoo. In recent years, gluten-free has also taken on the patina of a fad diet. It seemed that, overnight, many of the products at your local grocer’s contained labels proclaiming them to be “gluten free,” even foods that never contained gluten. The reality is that many people’s bodies do not tolerate gluten well, from mild sensitivity issues such as bloating and brain fog to individuals with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder.
Eating Gluten Free
If one of your health goals is eliminating processed carbohydrates from your diet, choosing to go gluten-free may help. This is because many of the most carb-heavy foods are packed with gluten, particularly processed and simple carbohydrates. Two offenders that leap to mind are bread and pasta. However, gluten-free does not always mean low-carb, so read labels carefully. For example, you can find many gluten-free bread and pasta options that are still loaded with carbs. Of course, if you’re also cutting processed foods from your diet, you won’t have many labels to read.
If you choose gluten-free foods due to an intolerance of or sensitivity to the protein, you need to look beyond foods known for their high carb content. You find gluten in all of the following:
- Packaged meals and soups
- Protein shakes and bars
- Sauces, marinades, and dressings
- Processed meats, such as bacon
As with carbohydrates, the solution is eliminating as many processed foods as possible. Instead, eat lean proteins, eggs, fresh or frozen vegetables, fruit and berries, unsalted nuts, and plain dairy.
Eliminating Processed Carbohydrates
One of the quickest, easiest ways to lower your risk of developing heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases, is to cut processed carbohydrates from your diet. Also known as refined or simple carbs, these foods provide little nutritional value, since the refining process removes most of the healthy grain, as well as the fiber and B-complex vitamins found in complex carbohydrates. White bread and rice are two of the most well-known culprits, but you find these refined carbs everywhere: chips, candy, soda, pastries.
Luckily, there are myriad healthy carb options to ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs, particularly if you follow a plant-based diet. Leafy green vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, sprouts, and anything that adds color to your plate make a great choice. Shoot for at least two servings per day, and preferably three. You can also replace candy and other sweets with fresh fruit and berries. Again, aim for two servings per day. Drink water and the occasional serving of natural juice instead of those sugary sodas.
If you can’t live without your starches, try eating more complex varieties, such as whole-grain bread instead of white or sweet potatoes, which are packed with fiber. Below, we offer a list of alternatives that are tastier and healthier than their processed counterparts.
Gluten-Free Food Substitutes
The following foods are both gluten-free and either low-carb or rich in complex carbs.
- Amaranth is an ancient grain loaded with minerals and amino acids. Use it as a substitute for rice, add it to soups, make it into a porridge, you can even pop it and eat it like popcorn.
- Gluten-free pasta offers the ease and taste of a pasta-based meal without gluten. It still contains significant carbs, though, so read labels carefully, follow suggested serving sizes, and avoid making this a daily diet staple.
- Millet is another popular rice substitute. You may also combine it with rice or quinoa to make a gluten-free porridge.
- Popcorn makes a great snack substitute, so long as you don’t load it with butter and salt or cover it in caramel.
- Quinoa is a bit pricey but many people looking to follow a low-carb or gluten-free diet use it as a substitute for rice.
- Rice is rich in complex carbohydrates, particularly if you choose one of the more colorful varieties.
- Sweet corn has a carb load similar to white potatoes but is packed with fiber.
- Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes do, though both options are gluten-free. Both also have fewer carbs than starches such as rice and pasta.
Eliminating processed carbohydrates and gluten from your diet offers a variety of health benefits, including weight loss. If you’re just starting with a low-carb or gluten-free diet, talk to your doctor or dietician. He or she can help put you on the right track to help ensure success.
At Clancy Medical Group we believe in a holistic approach to medicine. A simple change in diet instead of medication has been beneficial to some patients. Make an appointment today and explore what the natural possibilities are for your health. Clancy Medical Group (760) 305-1900