Watching your weight while following a glutenfree diet can seem overwhelmingly difficult! Gluten-free expert Dr Sue Shepherd has some healthy ideas.
You’d think that a gluten-free diet would be a ‘healthier’ diet. After all, no gluten means no wheat, rye, oats or barley, so treats such as cakes, pastries and battered fried foods are off the menu. But in fact, many who are diagnosed with a gluten intolerance actually end up gaining weight! We show you what to look out for – whether you’re trying to lose weight or avoid gaining it in the first place.
Gaining weight? Gluten-free grains and starches, such as rice, potato and corn, have a higher GI than wheat-based foods, making them less filling – and easier to overeat. Choose low-GI wholegrains, such as quinoa and buckwheat, to help you feel full for longer.
Find more fibre
Many gluten-free versions of food are also lower in fibre than the originals – a disadvantage, because fibre can make us feel fuller longer, helping control our appetite. To bump up your fibre intake, look for foods with more than 3g fibre per 100g, and replace white rice, bread, and pasta with brown rice and wholegrain products. Adding some psyllium to your cereal is another great idea.
Indulge – a little
Many slip into the habit of over-indulging, as a form of rebellion against the restrictions of a gluten-free diet. For example, you may indulge in more than one slice of cake, ‘because you can’. But just because it’s gluten free, doesn’t mean you have to overeat it!
Add some chia
Add 1 tablespoon of Chia seeds to a glass of water, let it sit for a few hours in the fridge, then add a splash of fruit juice to taste. Have this drink, packed full of omega-3, fibre and antioxidants, 15 minutes before your next meal to help fill you up so you’ll eat less.
It’s important to explore new tastes and try the variety of gluten-free foods that are available. However, taste-test everything you can find and you will end up over-eating, so spread out the sampling!
If you don’t have food outlets close to work that offer healthy, gluten-free choices, bring your own lunch. Prepare it ahead of time so you don’t fall into the trap of having chocolate or chips as your only option.
Just because it’s gluten-free, doesn’t mean you have to buy it! If you have cupboards full of gluten-free chocolates, lollies, crisps, biscuits and other goodies, it’s inevitable you will eat them.
Your friends may think they’re being nice by bringing you gluten-free cakes, biscuits and other baked goodies – but eating every treat they send your way won’t do you any favours. Don’t be so polite – it’s okay to say no! If you must eat what they’ve brought you, make a point to share it with friends.
Many gluten-free alternatives are energy-dense and higher in fat and sugar than the ‘original’ versions. Look for gluten-free foods that are low in fat, with 3g or less fat per 100g, and low in sugar, with 5g or less per 100g. Always read labels and choose healthier options where possible.
Look at how much you are eating – most meals are served much larger than we actually need (at home, as well as in takeaway shops and restaurants). It’s OK to leave some food behind on the plate, so stop when you are full. Or, if that doesn’t work, serve meals on a smaller plate. Use portion-controlled packaged foods to help you get used to eating smaller portions.
Choose snacks high in‘nutritional density’ – in other words, foods that offer lots of nutrients in relation to the amount of energy they contain. Limit snacks that are high in kilojoules and offer little nutrition (such as potato crisps).