Gluten-free living is changing the lives of countless people for the better. It helps to alleviate multiple maladies and heals years of misery for most dieters. I went completely gluten-free (GF) and casein-free (CF) six years ago to support my son’s GFCF lifestyle. I quickly discovered the benefits of being GFCF – my digestive illness, pains, and allergy concerns were resolved. Two years into my diet change I became chronically ill with symptoms of autoimmune disease, arthritis, fatigue, brain-fog, emotional changes, allergies, and exercise intolerance. I went from being an active person to being a sick person. How did this occur when I was on such a healthy diet plan?
While I am still finding answers to this question (day-by-day), I have identified several mistakes I made in my GFCF diet. I recently learned that my bad cholesterol (LDL) is too high and my good cholesterol (HDL) is too low. So, I have researched potential culprits and reflected upon the food mistakes I made.
Here are five common mistakes I made while living GF (avoid these):
- Corn: Almost all corn in the U.S. is a genetically modified organism (GMO) crop. You need to learn about GMO crops and Monsanto’s chemicals to better understand the negative health effects of GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, glyphosate (Roundup), and other issues facing commercial farming. I substituted most of my pastas and grains with corn products. Corn pasta has better grain integrity when cooked than other GF options and is much cheaper. I love corn and it has always been a staple in my diet (it is the only consistent food I have eaten since childhood other than chicken).
- There is information related to glyphosate and GMOs as potential underlying culprits in gluten-related issues. Wheat crops were changed to create more gluten (dwarf plant) in the 1960s. Glyphosate (Roundup) was introduced to crops in the 1970s with the highest use beginning in the late 1990s – as GMO corn seed (Roundup ready seed) was created in 1998. Corn is not the only GMO seed. Soy, canola, cotton, papayas, sugar beet, alfalfa, and squash may also be GMO’d. Learn more about this issue and make your own decision. For me, removing GMO’d corn has been helpful.
- Soy: As I learned about GFCF living, I learned that many people also live soy-free (GFCFSF). My son tested negative to soy as an irritant, so I kept GF soy in our diet plan. Eventually, I started using GF soy sauce more liberally and purchased more food with GF soy. Now that I understand soy is 93% GMO’d, I am making some changes. I had already learned to stay away from soy milk and soy yogurt due to reactions in my digestive system and body.
- Starches: As I longed for something to fill my plate and stomach on the GFCF diet, I added a lot of starches (rice, potatoes, beans, peas, and lentils/legumes-chick peas & peanuts). While I love these and believe we need a wide variety of food choices, my cholesterol level is not loving these as much. Starches and sugar are not good for cholesterol levels.
- Sugar: I don’t eat a lot of sugar (compared to others), so I never considered sugar as a culprit to my health crisis. I was wrong. Sugar is the new focus of heart disease and multiple diseases. Low-fat was not the only focus we needed to reduce heart disease in the 1980s. As we removed fat from our diets, sugar was added to help with flavor. I don’t add much sugar to my food, I avoid sodas and sweets, and I only drink one half-cut sweet/unsweetened tea per day. I thought I was okay with my sugar intake. I was lying to myself. I started looking closer at my choices and I was consuming more sugar than I should be. I need to cut-out all sugar, but that is very difficult. For now, I am limiting to less than 25g or six teaspoons per day.
- Oils: Many GF “healthy” alternatives are made with Omega 6 oils like sunflower, corn, canola, safflower, or soybean oil. Cottonseed oil is a mystery to me. Why would we believe that oil extracted from cotton seeds should be consumed as a food product? Canola is usually from rapeseed. Do some research on all these oils to learn the proper amount to consume and which ones to avoid completely.
- Omega 3 oils are the better choice for overall health. Some examples include: walnut, hemp, and mustard oils. Chia seeds, mackerel, salmon, tuna, flax seed, egg yolks, and walnuts are great ways to enjoy the benefits of Omega 3s.
- Coconut oil (not an Omega 3 or 6) and olive oil (Omega 3 & 6) are my choices for cooking and baking. There are multiple uses and benefits of coconut oil (from oral oil pulling for good mouth hygiene to skin care).
I am sure additional revelations will hit me as I continue to seek new knowledge about nutrition and wellness. These are few I have love:
- Exercise is essential to living well
- Bone broths are great for the gut (microbiome)
- Sour or fermented foods are essential foods which most of us avoid
- Vegetables need to be more of a focus in our diet
- Healthy saturated fats are a must
- Toxins must be avoided
- Chemicals not intended to be consumed are everywhere
- Food choices are tricky
- Supplements are wonderful
- Quercetin fights inflammation and allergies
- Wellness is an uphill battle
Stay with me as I continue to learn and share my knowledge to help us all live well in a world filled with toxins. Live well while on your GF diet!