The BIG “O” – Get More, Feel Less Stressed!

While writing this last installment for our mini-series on using our gluten free diet to naturally reduce holiday stress, I debated on whether to publish it or not.

It’s a touchy topic and some folks may disagree with me.

Then, I reminded myself of my mission here at To share my experience and knowledge to help you navigate your gluten free life with ease and confidence.

That’s why you won’t see me promoting the latest diet fad or jumping on the bandwagon of the most recent food trend. That’s not what this is all about.

It’s about finding answers and presenting them so you can make the best choices for YOU. You will find consistency and sound advice based in science. You can count on that.

(You can also count on fantastic food and fun! There is absolutely no need for living gluten free to be boring or miserable!)

We are all unique and there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to living on any special diet. I encourage you to take the information you find here and elsewhere and use it to make sound personal decisions for yourself.

With that in mind, I’d like to share with you another way we may be able to manage our stress…

It could be as simple as eating our morning oatmeal!

Nutritious whole oats can help us deal with stress in a variety of ways!

Let’s take a look at a few of them…

Maintaining Balance Inside and Out with Whole Oats

Oats are complex carbohydrates (like starches, legumes, and other grains) that are high in soluble fiber.

It takes time for the body to break down complex carbs into glucose, the simple sugar our bodies use for energy.

Because oats take longer to digest, glucose is released into our bloodstream at a steady pace. The heart-healthy fiber in oats also helps slow the sugar release.

A slower release of glucose into the system prevents the blood sugar spike experienced with simple carbohydrates like cookies, cakes, and candy.

Keeping blood sugar regulated means our bodies use the energy from foods more efficiently and maintain balance.

So, how does this help keep our stress level low?

When we feel more balanced, we’re more relaxed and better equipped to deal with external stressors like losing our car keys, crying babies, and rush hour traffic.

A healthy internal balance boosts immunity and helps us fight off illness and disease more efficiently.

Maintain Immunity with Whole Oats

Oats are full of vitamins and nutrients that strengthen the immune system and fight off stress.

We recently discussed how B vitamins regulate certain stress chemicals our bodies release. Whole oats contain significant amounts of B vitamins, along with other immune boosters like vitamins A and E, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

These nutrients are some of those depleted when we encounter stressful situations, so making sure we’re getting plenty of whole oat nutrition can help offset that depletion.

Maintain Mood with Whole Oats

Some of the same nutrients mentioned above are involved in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. One of the functions of this brain chemical is to regulate mood. Consuming healthy complex carbohydrates like oats can be one way to naturally increase serotonin production, leading to improved mood and less stress.

Maintain Your Gluten Free Diet with Whole Oats

That’s right! Oats can actually help us stick to our gluten free (or other) special diet!

This is because of an additional “inside benefit” from the soluble fiber in whole oats. Besides slowing the release of glucose like I mentioned earlier, soluble fiber keeps us feeling full and satisfied, contributing to a more consistent energy level and mood. That means we’re less prone to reacting negatively to stress that comes our way.

This can be an added bonus for those of us on a special diet! Feeling satisfied by the foods we eat helps keep us from feeling deprived, which makes it easier to stick to our healthy gluten free diet.

Speaking of Eating Oats on a Gluten Free Diet…

Some of us have heard we should avoid them on our gluten free diet.

It depends.

Technically, oats do not contain the same protein that those with CD react to in wheat, barley, rye, and other gluten-containing grains.

That doesn’t mean some people don’t have a reaction. Some individuals with Celiac disease (CD) cannot tolerate oats and react to them as if they were gluten. It is very real and very serious. There are even some people who do not have CD that are unable to eat oats.

As with all our food sensitivities and food allergies, this is a very unique situation and you should make the choices, along with your doctor, that are best for your special diet and your health.

If you’re living gluten free and you do eat oats, purchase oats that are manufactured in a dedicated facility and certified gluten free. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up with oats that are cross-contaminated. That’s because oats are traditionally processed in facilities that handle other (gluten-filled) grains like wheat. Airborne particles and residual dust on processing equipment is enough to contaminate oats processed after wheat or other gluten-containing grains.

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