Thursday, November 21, 2013

Whole Grains and The Gluten Free Diet

For people who eat gluten, eating a lot of white flour products is considered unhealthy, right? Choosing whole grains is recommended by every nutritionist across the county.

Well, guess what. One cup (455 calories) of white wheat flour has 13 grams of protein and 32% of your daily iron requirement. Approximately the same amount (440 calories) of a highly rated GF white flour mix, Jules Gluten Free, has just 4 grams of protein and 8% of your daily iron requirement. This may be fine for the occasional dessert, but to become gluten free and continue to eat in the same types of foods as before by swapping out the type of flour used, this present a serious health concern.

Many, commonly used flours in GF recipes and products sold in stores are nutritionally poor compared to conventional, wheat products, even though many of those wheat products are considered "junk food" to begin with. Then what are the GF versions? EXTRA JUNKY JUNK FOOD? For diabetics and hypoglycemic this is especially vexing. Even for the average GF individual, this can present quite a problem.

But fear not. There is hope for us on the gluten free diet. There is a way to be healthy and have lasting energy throughout the day. The key is to limit refined grains as much as possible and instead eat whole grains, beans, and nuts. Many can be turned into great baked goods.

Here are a few that I recommend:
- Brown Rice
- Wild Rice
- Buckwheat
- Whole Sorghum
- Quinoa
- Amaranth
- Coconut Flour
- Beans
- Seeds/Nuts

Beware of the following grains and use only in moderation:
- Tapioca Starch
- Potato Starch
- Corn Starch
- White Rice

Also, be aware that some whole grains ARE better than others. Protein and fiber content are good indicators. It's better to eat a whole grain than replace them with a piece of fruit, for example. Also, celery and carrot sticks and peanut butter cannot replace a PB&J on wheat bread. Meat cannot replace bread in a healthy way - it's too fatty and lacks enough fiber to eat more than a serving or two. It also doesn't have complex carbohydrates and the body stores and uses it differently.

You might be thinking, "DUH!" But I know from experience that the tendency for some GF people (ahem - ME) is to just do without grains for much of the time, and therefore missing out on complex carbs for meals or days at a time. The end result is sluggishness, exhaustion, hunger, dizziness, and weight loss. This must be avoided!

Please send me your comments. I'd love to hear from you!


  1. As someone who has Type 1 diabetes, I try to avoid white flour of any kind. I love your list of whole grains. I just wish I knew how to turn them into baked goods without having to buy and store a lot of special ingredients.

  2. Hmm . . . yes, that's a tough one although there is an all-purpose mix available that has more whole grains than most. I will cover it in a future blog. Stay tuned!