9 tips for gluten-free shopping


Have you seen the gluten free shelves in the supermarket expanding? Many people are aware of their gluten sensitivity or even have coeliac disease. And the gluten-free food industry is eagerly stepping in. Which doesn’t mean that gluten free products are necessarily healthy: they’re almost always highly processed and contain lots of sugar, soy and processed oils.

So what to do if you want or need to go an a healthy gluten free diet? Here are some tips to help you transition:

  1. Shop on the outside aisles of your supermarket. That’s where the healthy foods are usually located. So stock up on organic fruits and vegetables, lean meats and eggs among others.
  2. Read labels!  When you buy packaged foods, it’s important to understand what they contain.  Foods that include wheat, rye, spelt, barley, or kamut contain gluten. Also, look for words like “spices,” “flavoring,” “modified food starch,” “maltodextrin,” “glucose syrup,” and “citric acid.” These can all contain gluten.  Be sure to read the ingredients list and also the “contains” section of food labels.
  3. These are the grains you can eat: quinoa, teff, buckwheat, brown rice, millet and amaranth. If you want to try oats, look for the gluten free ones. They’re not more processed than the regular ones, just grown and rolled in a safe way.
  4. “Gluten-free” doesn’t necessarily mean ‘healthy‘. Especially stay away from gluten-free cakes, sweets and biscuits. They contain often loads of sugar and processed flours and are low in nutrients.
  5. Don’t buy any ready-made sauces and dressings. Make your own so you make sure they are healthy and without any gluten, sugar or processed ingredients.
  6. Go back to the kitchen and prepare your own meals. Chopping your veg and preparing your meal is a great way to unwind from a busy day. And it’s a lot cheaper as well!
  7. Find some great websites and blogs. Cooking healthy and delicious meals is so much easier now with all the inspiration you can find online. I love the Deliciouslyella blog. Her recipes are also dairy and refined sugar free. Mynewroots  is another great and very creative one. And if you love baking, have a look at  Livia’s kitchen. Start with two or three easy meals at first.  Once you feel comfortable, move of to more challenging or time-consuming recipes.
  8. Get prepping. Make a big pot of soup and freeze it in portions. Make a batch of your favorite snacks with a friend. So that when you’re tired or uninspired you won’t be reaching for the not-so-good stuff.
  9. Know which alcohol to avoid. Gluten-free alcohol includes cider, wine, sherry, spirits, port and liqueurs, but remember that beer, lagers, stouts and ales contain varying amounts of gluten.

Over to you! What are your top tips for going gluten free?

The importance of cooking your meals – and blessing them

Did you know that cooking your own meals actually helps your digestion?

When you start thinking about what you’re going to eat, when you chop and sauté an onion, roast some seeds for your salad, slow-cook a stew with spices… Your kitchen fills up with lovely aromas.

 

Thinking about food, hands-on preparing and smelling it sets off a cascade of processes. And they are key for gut healing.

The hypothalamus in your brain signals to the medulla oblongata in the brainstem. The medulla’s response is sending out nerve impulses, which travel down the big, wandering nerve – the vagus nerve – to stimulate more saliva production, increase the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and pancreatic secretions. Together, they help with optimal digestion.

Then taking time to bless your food in some way or another prepares you to eat. As you might know we have two different modes of our nervous system: sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest). If we’re in  sympathetic mode we’re ready for action. Our body focuses on sending more blood to our muscles and lungs so we can jump or run into action is case of a threat or emergency. It makes sense that the body isn’t focusing so much on digestion.

When you eat in a stressed state, your digestion only works on half it’s potential – or less!

So what happens if you eat when you’re stressed out, upset, have a difficult conversation or reply to some  work emails during your meal? You will not break down the nutrients very well and that can result in acid reflux, bloating, burping, stomach pain and the like.

It doesn’t take long prayers or meditations to get to the rest-and-digest mode. Blessing your meal can be as simple as sitting down on the table and taking a few seconds to look at the food you prepared and appreciate it.