Celiac disease, often called “gluten intolerance,” affects 150,000 people in France. This disease forced people to follow a strict diet. But there are tricks to continue to indulge in gluten-free pleasure, like taking on some of such meals offered by the likes of Nutrisystem.
The Whys of “Gluten Intolerance”
Gluten is a mixture of proteins, some (one or more) of which are not normally digested, causing severe damage to the intestinal mucosa. This causes diarrhea and malabsorption of nutrients such as iron, calcium, or folic acid (vitamin B9).
The diagnosis of celiac disease is done with a blood test and intestinal biopsy. And when there is a proven diagnosis, there is only one treatment for it: follow a strict gluten-free diet and lifestyle.
However, it is much more difficult to diagnose gluten sensitivity because symptoms range from simple fatigue to gastroesophageal reflux disease, as well as sleep disorders, among others.
Where Can You Find Gluten?
Gluten is found in the grain of some cereals, such as wheat, rye, oats, and barley. And wheat is found in many common foods: breads, pasta, pastries, biscuits (sweet and savory), breakfast cereals, etc. So be sure to read the labels!
Fortunately, most of the food consumed regularly, like those in the Nutrisystem menu, are suitable enough: fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish. For cereals and starchy foods, select those that do not contain gluten: rice, potatoes, pulses (lentils, peas, beans), corn, and quinoa. The latest Nutrisystem promo code is found on our website.
The gluten intolerant must also move towards gluten free flours: buckwheat (cakes, pancakes), rice flour, and chestnut flour. But these flours do not swell; they are more brittle (pastry) and more difficult to thicken (sauce). We must therefore incorporate recipes with yeast, egg whites, potato starch, or cornstarch.
Find Gluten Free Recipes
People intolerant to gluten can find gluten-free recipes on various websites, such as AFDIAG, the Association of Intolerant to Gluten, or industrial sites, which also promote their products. Many cookbooks are available even if not all of them are interesting.
Commercially, it is also possible to find gluten-free preparations, including gluten-free breads, cakes, and cookies. More recently, a young company offers home-cooked dishes and preparations, such as the following: quiches, pizzas, and pastry. Culinary aids, such as “pastry mix,” can also be used to make breads and desserts, etc.
Eating Gluten Free Is More Expensive
Eating gluten free is more expensive; unprocessed products even cost more, which is not the case with Nutrisystem meal plans. For example, gluten-free flour costs 3-4 euros/kg against one euro for wheat flour. These products, however, are partly refunded if you are gluten intolerant.
Certified Gluten-Free Restaurants
Eating gluten-free does not mean you’ll always deal with tasteless food.
For those intolerant to gluten, shopping for food everyday requires great vigilance!
So, when eating out, ordering a gluten-free menu becomes a real headache. However, after some time, rare, fully certified gluten-free restaurants have appeared in town.
Gluten-Free Foods: Pitfalls to Avoid
Gluten-free diets are popular these days. In fact, even weight loss diet plans like those of Nutrisystem include gluten-free meals on the menu. As such, we must be alert on the pitfalls of processed, “gluten free” foods that arrive in stores.
Gluten is a set of proteins, particularly a sub-family of small proteins that are viscous and contain prolamines, which are most involved in intolerance or hypersensitivity. These are called secalin in rye, hordein in barley, and avenin in oats. One which would pose the most problems would be gliadin, present in wheat and spelt.
Spelt and modern wheat are varieties that have been studied by genetic agronomists since the 1960s and do not have the same number of chromosomes. This changes everything in terms of digestibility and immune responses. Durum (pasta) contains 28 (Kamut also). Soft wheat (flour, bread) and spelt 42. It would contain this profound modification of the modern wheat genome that would be responsible for a greater sensitivity to gluten among Western populations.
Do Not Fall Into the “Gluten-Free” Trap
To avoid falling into the traps of food stamped “gluten-free” that are sold in health food stores and now also in supermarkets, you have to look closely at their composition. Some of them are highly processed foods and/or have ingredients that are perfectly useless to the body.
Instead of wheat, the products are most often made with refined flours (rice flour, maize), starch, apple earth, cassava, and other processed or modified starches. In the end, these are very high carbohydrate foods, very poor in fiber, minerals, vitamins, and protein. And sometimes, the manufacturing processes make them really small carbohydrate bombs.
For example, popcorn cakes or extruded crackers (subjected to high pressures and high temperatures) have a dramatic impact on blood sugar: eat a cake or a piece of sugar will have the same result.
These products are digested much faster than the versions “with gluten” and significantly increase insulin secretion and blood sugar levels in diabetics, so be careful. In addition, some biscuits, cakes, and cereals are also very sweet (sugar, invert sugar syrup, molasses, glucose, rice syrup, maltodextrin, dextrose). They are also often rich in fats that are even harmful to the health. Omega-6, in particular, through sunflower oil, can trigger excess pro-inflammatory features, which are indicative of inflammation.
Very Long Lists of Ingredients
The product ingredient lists are very long. Industries use additives and artificial flavors (thickeners, preservatives, emulsifiers, acidifiers, colors) which are not necessarily present in the same products containing gluten. Gluten-free food, including those in some Nutrisystem meals, do not rise.
These foods may bear the logo of the French Association of Gluten Intolerance (AFDIAG; logo has crossed ears of wheat) and thus their gluten content is less than 20mg/kg but they have absolutely no place in a balanced diet, even for the truly intolerant to gluten (with Celiac disease).
A Gluten-Free Diet to Lose Weight?
Some people follow a gluten-free diet to lose weight, which can also be done via plans like Nutrisystem’s. But this is not a sporadic intake of these foods as it leads to weight fluctuation. Studies show that daily consumption of such products can lead, in the long term, to weight gain, and changes in laboratory parameters only degrade the health status rather than improve it.
Italian researchers followed nearly a hundred diagnosed celiacs for a year. While only two people had metabolic syndrome at diagnosis (abdominally overweight; increased blood pressure, blood sugar, and triglycerides), they numbered 29 after a year of having a gluten-free diet with this type of product.
It is likely that the only thing that succeeds with these “gluten-free” products is the portfolio, as they are much more expensive than their traditional counterparts. Corn flakes are 33% more expensive, while pasta costs 5.40 euros per kilo, and madeleines are 19 euros per kilo.
How to Reduce Gluten from Your Diet?
Reducing gluten from your diet is very simple. The objective is not to fall into the food replacement trap: “I replace my bread, cookies, and pasta with gluten-free versions.” Rather, you need to learn to eat other foods that are naturally gluten-free and are not processed, such as :
– Semi-complete basmati rice, buckwheat (flour or grain), quinoa, millet, amaranth,
– Chestnut flour and chickpea
– Tubers (sweet potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips)
– Legumes (lentils, dry beans) that are low GI and are naturally rich in nutrients
If you want to eat cakes or bread, you have to make them yourself from these ingredients. Also, combining fruit, a mixture of oilseeds (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts), and dark chocolate is always more interesting than highly processed gluten-free products.