I often hear people say they are going to do a detox or a green smoothie challenge, and I think, wouldn’t it just be easier (and healthier) to eat well and treat your body well all the time instead of feeling the need to take extreme measures in the name of health?
I believe balance and moderation are key to happy, healthy beings. I also believe those of us requiring a special diet for celiac disease need to be particularly prudent when it comes to what we put into our bodies on a regular basis. Taking good care of our bodies through a balanced, healthy diet can go a long way toward gut healing, which in turn promotes all-over good health.
Use these tips to promote gut healing if you have celiac disease.
1. Don’t cheat your health by cheating on your gluten free diet.
Consuming gluten, no matter how small the amount, damages the small intestine of an individual with CD. Research indicates it takes weeks for antibody levels (indicating gluten damage in those with CD) to return to normal after consumption.
This is true even for those without obvious outward negative symptoms of CD.
Even in the absence of outward symptoms, damage to the villi (small finger-like projections) of the small intestine occurs. This damage leads to other serious health issues like poor nutrient absorption, which puts the entire system in jeopardy.
On a gluten free diet, the villi do heal and return to normal; however, recovery time varies among patients. Every time a celiac patient ingests gluten – by accident or knowingly – that healing process must begin again.
2. Understand cross-contamination and how to avoid it.
For some of us, diligently adhering to our gluten-free diet is not a problem; however, we too can be at risk of ingesting gluten. That’s because of the risk of gluten cross-contamination in foods we eat.
This is especially true with processed foods. Read about the 3 Common Ways Gluten Cross-Contamination Occurs in Food Manufacturing.
Use these tips to avoid cross-contamination in processed foods:
- Read labels diligently every time, even if you have safely eaten a product in the past. When in doubt, always phone the manufacturer before consuming a questionable food to ask about their processing practices and gluten.
- Select products manufactured in a dedicated gluten-free facility if possible. Most packaging will indicate if the facility is dedicated.
- If you know a food is processed in a non-dedicated facility, call to ask the manufacturer about how processing lines are used and cleaned (and sanitized) in their facility. Most are willing to share this information.
3. Eat outside the box.
Even if we never cheat on our gluten-free diet and only choose foods produced in a dedicated gluten-free facility, we may still be preventing our gut from healing as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Sometimes, after a diagnosis with CD, it is easy to fall into the Box Food Trap. For some, when hit with a life-changing diagnosis like CD, it feels comforting to be able to have cookies, cakes, brownies, bagels, etc. that are gluten-free.
In fact, I’ve talked with many individuals who confessed they ate more “junk” foods after their celiac diagnosis than before… just because those foods existed.
Relying heavily on processed foods can lead to problems like:
- Nutrient deficiencies leading to health issues like anemia, osteoporosis and even depression.
- Weight gain
- Lack of energy
This is true whether one has CD or not; however, it is especially important to be mindful of nutrition when our bodies are in need of healing.
Instead of turning to packaged gluten-free foods often, embrace the bounty of naturally gluten-free foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins (eggs, fish, meat, poultry, or plant-based proteins if you do not eat animal products) and gluten-free whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, etc.) and enjoy preparing meals at home in your gluten-free kitchen!
Use my “No Thought Required” gluten free food list for a quick reference of some gluten-free foods.
I hope this information helps you as you journey right along with me on the path to gluten-free optimal health!