co-authored by Rachael Hunt of GlutenFreedomInc.com
When I first embarked on my new dietary journey, I opted for the quick and easy alternatives to bread, pasta, cereals and treats. I remember feeling so hungry all the time, so the more carb-filled, the better. Nothing seemed to properly satiate me and I always felt hungry hours after eating, often to the point of dizziness caused by hypoglycaemia. It wasn’t until I started reading some resources that I realized it was a result of my glycemic index going on a roller coaster ride. When you remove the gluten, you have to add a number of other ingredients to make it resemble that consistency, the main one being sugar.
My approach to my dietary restriction is simple: whole foods that are naturally gluten-free. It makes me feel good, I feel fuller longer, my blood sugar is more stabilized, and I don’t suffer from many digestive issues as a result. Below I shed some light on way I have chosen to eat this way for the past 3 years, why I think we need to be more conscious consumers when it comes to reading labels, and why gluten-free doesn’t mean healthy!
GLUTEN & BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS
After years of label reading, I am now ever-cognizant of not only spotting the potential sources of gluten, but also how much sugar, and the source of sugar, goes into most of our packaged goods. When you realize that sugar is the primary replacement, it begins to make sense why some symptoms, such as bloating, gassiness and light-headed spells persist. Below is a little snippet from one of my favourite authors on this topic, Dr. William Davis.
“You already know that wheat products raise blood sugar to high levels, such that 2 slices of whole wheat bread raises blood sugar higher than 6 teaspoons of table sugar. What foods are worse than wheat? Rice flour, potato flour, cornstarch, and tapioca starch. Every time blood sugars rise to high levels, high insulin levels follow. Insulin blocks mobilization of fat and encourages fat deposition. That’s why I call these gluten-free replacement ingredients junk carbs.“
Now I’m not trying to fear monger any of you into throwing out everything in your cupboard at the moment, but pay attention. Ignorance is bliss until our health is at risk. Many of those above mentioned ingredients are common in gluten-free baking. Now, trust me on this, I love me some baked goods but if I am going to whip up a batch of cookies I will use natural sweeteners and flours such as almond or coconut. But, I always think twice about purchasing pre-made, especially if ingredients include starches, refined sugar, and gums.
It’s important to understand this relationship because as much as gluten-free foods spike our blood sugar levels, it also has implications for our hormones, which as we know regulate normal bodily functions. Without getting too scientific, because I am by no means an expert in this area, fluctuating blood sugar levels affect our hormones like insulin and cortisol.
This can put stress on our bodies in a number of ways. When our hormones aren’t functioning properly we experience imbalances in the form of fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, poor sleep quality, abnormal periods, night sweats and tingling limbs (to name a few). Yes, sugar can lead to all sorts of whacky hormonal reactions.
So, in short gluten-free does not mean healthy! It really frustrates me when I see brand after brand delving into the GF world but produce products with low nutritional value, but market it is healthy simply on the premise it is gluten-free. With so much garbage on the market, I truly value those companies who are working to make a positive impact on our health. On the flip of sugar-laden, nutrient-deprived gluten-free products, I love seeing there is a shifting movement towards higher quality, great tasting options in the gluten-free/paleo world. With an increase in conscious consumers, comes an increase in conscious producers. Hence why you see me talking so much about my current obsession: Keto Buns. The ingredients are super clean, easy to pronounce, and real. With companies like this on the rise, there is hope for us who are looking for a carb-y option that is nutrient dense and legit. I haven’t found anything quite like the Keto Bun on the market. This gives me hope that we are shifting in the right direction.