As a child I was quite a smart cookie. However, during my time at University, and even years before that, I was frequently anaemic, felt exhausted and suffered terribly from what I later knew to be brain fog. I always … Continue reading
I follow a gluten free diet. I follow it because I have coeliac disease. I did not start a gluten free diet because I wanted a healthy lifestyle change. I followed a relatively healthy well balanced diet even before my diagnosis. I still do now.
But I love the occasional treat. I really do.
I do not follow a paleo diet. I do not purposefully seek out carb free or fat free foods. I do not make sure that all my food is GMO free. And since I do not have any other intolerances or allergies I do drink milk- normal shop bought cow’s milk, not home made almond, hemp or coconut milk. I do eat corn. And I do eat cake sometimes.
I admire people who follow a plant based diet, who make sure all their foods are organic, or that their meat is grass fed and who drink green smoothies for breakfast. But I am not one of them. I know some of these things will lead to a healthier life, but I still am not willing to do that.
So why is it that almost every time I search through gluten free recipe blogs lately it makes me feel like I am an unhealthy slob for using real butter instead of coconut oil, or for using even unrefined sugar instead of stevia. Why is it that when a person asks a question about a certain type of gluten free pasta they almost always have somebody berate them for eating corn that is not certified GMO free?
Some of us are just people who happen to have coeliac disease, who have to follow a gluten free diet. Some have other intolerances, so have to eliminate some other foods from their diet. But not all of us are willing to completely change our diets to grain free, lactose, sugar, nut and meat free diets if we don’t have to. We did not start a gluten free diet out of choice and we follow it for life.
I am still an average coeliac who follows a balanced diet that includes lots of natural gluten free foods, and tries to live a healthy lifestyle. But I still want my cake. And I want it the way I like it. That isn’t so wrong is it?
Note: In this article I am in no way encouraging people to eat unhealthy foods. I know that gluten free food can be full of preservatives, are high in sugars and fats and are low in important nutrients. But I believe in everything in moderation, and if a person wants to eat something ‘bad’ but gluten free occasionally, I think that is their decision. As always, a healthy well balanced diet is important, and a gluten free diet should be based on natural healthy gluten free foods. A healthy diet should be coupled with exercise to prevent health complications like diabetes 2, cardiovascular diseases and many more conditions and diseases.
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I recently asked members of a social media group for feedback about what they would like to read more about. One of the subjects that was mentioned was the positive side of coeliac disease. To be honest, my first reaction … Continue reading
People with type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of coeliac disease. Both conditions are autoimmune disorders. According to Coeliac UK between 2 and 10% of people with coeliac disease will also have type 1 diabetes. Some people with type 1 diabetes have silent coeliac disease, which means that no symptoms are apparent. It can also be easily missed because symptoms of feeling unwell may be attributed to the diabetes. Experts agree that all people who suffer from diabetes 1 should be screened for coeliac disease.
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. It is not the diabetes your grandpa developed when he turned 80. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.
1. People with coeliac disease have an increased risk of diabetes 2.
Diabetes 2 is non insulin dependent diabetes. It is the most common type of diabetes and is the type of diabetes that is diagnosed in late adulthood. The bodies of people with diabetes 2 do still produce insulin. But either their pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin well enough. This is insulin resistance. There is no link between coeliac disease and type 2 diabetes. The risk of diabetes 2 in people with coeliac disease is the same as for the general population. The risk factors for diabetes 2 are being overweight, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, family history, age, and others. These risks are the same for coeliacs and non coeliacs.
2. Sugar in gluten free foods causes diabetes 2 in people with coeliac disease.
This might be partially true. A diet that is high in sugar can contribute to weight gain, which combined with other risk factors increases the likelihood of developing diabetes 2. But this is not limited to people with coeliac disease. It is the same for the general population. If a person with coeliac disease does not have diabetes 1, the international health recommendations apply. Eat a healthy balanced diet and increase your activity levels to avoid health problems. Just make sure your diet is gluten free.
3. People with coeliac disease and diabetes 1 should follow a sugar free diet.
When a person with diabetes 1 and coeliac disease is established on a gluten free diet, absorption of nutrients from food will increase as the intestine heals. This will affect blood sugar control. It is important to follow advice from a healthcare team regarding possible changes in insulin requirements. However, many people think that they can eat all gluten free food as long as it is sugar free. This is a myth. In reality sugar can be consumed by people with diabetes as part of a healthy diet in cooking and baking. High sugar foods are not healthy for anybody and will not help with glucose control, but sugars are not prohibited. Sadly, many gluten free products are high in sugars. Try to limit the consumption of high sugar foods, but that is not enough.
If a person has diabetes and coeliac disease these points are important to remember:
- Eat regularly and do not skip meals. Try to include a starchy carbohydrtae with every meal. Carbohydrates are important to control blood sugar levels. Follow the advice of a dietitian with regards to how much carbohydrates to include in your diet as this varies depending on age, activity level and weight.
- Include foods with a lower glycaemic index. The glycemic index, or GI, measures how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose levels. Foods with a low or medium GI raises blood glucose less than foods with a high GI. Fat and fiber tend to lower the GI of a food. As a general rule, the more cooked or processed a food, the higher the GI (although there are exceptions). This means that gluten free highly processed packed products tend to have a high GI index and will raise blood glucose levels fast. Low GI foods that are gluten free include basmati rice, naturally gluten free grains, gluten free pasta, gluten free multigrain, wholegrain or seeded bread, sweet potato, corn, yam, beans, peas, legumes, lentils, most fruit, and non starchy vegetables.
- Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight.
- Aim for 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day
- Avoid diabetic foods and drinks. The ‘suitable for diabetics’ label is a gimmick. These foods contain the same amounts of fats and calories and have a laxative effect that can affect blood glucose levels.
Include plenty of naturally gluten free foods in your diet. Do yourself a favour and limit the packaged highly processed gluten free junk. And don’t forget to exercise!
Sources and further reading:
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I often see people ask if they can drink alcohol on a gluten free diet. Since I do not drink alcohol myself, I usually keep scrolling whenever I see this question asked on coeliac support groups. However, there are a few myths going around on the topic so I thought I would just clear the issue for anybody who is interested.
First of all, you can drink alcohol if you are on a gluten free diet. But not all alcohol is gluten free.
- According to Coeliac Australia (2), all alcohol is gluten free with the exception of beer. On their website they state that this means anything from bourbon to tequila, sparkling wines, spirits, port, sherry and even cider, in moderation, is safe as part of a gluten free diet.
- Coeliac UK state that people with coeliac disease should avoid barley squashes, beer, lager, stout and ales unless they are specially made gluten-free beers and lagers. Cider, wine, sherry, spirits (whiskey, vodka, rum, gin, tequila), port and liquors are safe for people with coeliac disease (3).
As a rule of thumb alcohol that is made through a brewing process is not gluten free. It is important to only drink beers that are labelled ‘gluten free’- these are the only beers that should be considered to be gluten free despite claims by various people that other beers could be gluten free.
Some people think that if a hard alcohol is made from wheat, barley or rye they are prohibited. The truth is that if the distillation process is done correctly. it actually removes all of the gluten. However, according to Anderson (2014) (1) not all makers of alcoholic beverages distil enough times to purify their beverages completely. In addition, some add in a little of the grain “mash” (which does contain gluten) following distillation to improve colour and flavour, and there’s always the possibility of cross contamination from gluten grains in the manufacturing facility following distillation.
So what should we do?
If you are newly diagnosed, you might want to take small amounts of alcoholic beverages that are derived from gluten and assess your reaction. If anybody is still worried about drinking alcohol that has been made from gluten containing grains, there is potato based vodka, rum and tequila. And there is always wine, and gluten free beer.
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Did you love pizza before your diagnosis? No worries, there is a pizzeria claiming to serve gluten free pizzas in every corner. Do you miss those yummy gluten filled cupcakes? Just join a local social media group … Continue reading
Today, I read an article slash advert in a local magazine called Cibus, that was distributed with today’s Sunday newspaper. It was titled, ‘This summer, go gluten free!’. The title itself sparked my curiosity and encouraged me to read more with … Continue reading