Gluten free and low gluten carbohydrates – what to eat

Gluten free is all the rage now and it’s not always healthy.  Fair enough if you have Coeliac Disease or an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten but there are many who are giving up gluten because they think it’s healthier.  I’m frequently asked about the best gluten free carbohydrates to eat so this is for all you out there!   But first, a bit about gluten …..

A study on whether gluten-free (GF) products were healthier than non-gluten free products in Australian supermarkets was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.  They found that ‘the consumption of GF products was unlikely to confer health benefits, unless there was clear evidence of coeliac disease, gluten intolerance or allergy to gluten-containing grains. There was a moderate likelihood that GF labelling was being used to infer healthiness for discretionary items, which was unwarranted’.

Many health professionals believe gluten to be inflammatory.  Others believe that you can become deficient in certain minerals, vitamins and fibre.  My philosophy with cutting out any food group is to be aware of what you’re eating and replace with good quality/quantity of whole foods.   Education is the key and only you can make the right decision.

Some people simply ‘don’t feel right’ when they eat gluten.  You will only know for sure if you have Coeliac Disease, an intolerance or allergy by getting tested.  Ask your GP or health care professional for details.

I see the supermarket shelves growing with gluten free products, some of which claim to be healthy.  The best one is ‘healthy’ gluten free cookies.  They’re still cookies and they still contains loads of sugar!

Gluten free and low gluten carbohydrates

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, oats, barley and rye.  Carbohydrates are the most challenging macronutrient to eat when on a GF diet, especially if you’re used to eating sandwiches every day.

We all need carbohydrates for energy, right?  It can be challenging finding gluten free, complex carbohydrates, especially when you’re away from home.  If you’re an extremely busy person or if you exercise a lot or if you’re a sporty teenager/child, you still need complex carbohydrates to fuel your body.

Which carbohydrates?

  • Wholegrains – quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, brown rice, brown basmati rice, freekah, oats (if tolerated).
  • Noodles – buckwheat, brown rice
  • Pasta – buckwheat, quinoa, spelt (if tolerated)
  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
How to incorporate these foods into your diet.  We’ll start with breakfast.  Here are just a few ideas.
  • 2 eggs (including the yolks!) – any way you like with wilted spinach and any other veggies you fancy.
  • Greek or plain yoghurt with nuts and seeds and berries. I personally love ‘Caveman Crunch’ as a topping, a delicious nut and seed combination from ‘Civilized Caveman Cooking’.
  • Muesli – if you can’t eat the above, ‘Caveman Crunch’ is a good muesli to have. There are just a few from the supermarket that aren’t packed with sugar.  Alternatively, buckwheat or quinoa makes a good porridge or you can have it cold with yoghurt on top.  Of course, oats if you can tolerate.
  • Dairy free and vegan – a smoothie

I’m a big fan of dinner left overs for lunch.  It’s easy to cook a healthy dinner and bring to work or school.

  • Salad – with the 3 macronutrients, including a complex carbohydrate (see below)
  • Pasta – if you can’t imagine your life without pasta, buckwheat or quinoa are OK or spelt if you can tolerate.
  • Sandwich – choose a bread or wrap with the minimum number of ingredients and no preservatives or additives

I love quinoa as it’s easy on my digestion and is one of the few grains to contain a high amount of amino acids.  However, quinoa contains Saponins which are bitter compounds that are naturally present in quinoa and some people don’t tolerate quinoa very well.

One last word about gluten – if someone needs to follow a ‘gut healing’ diet, cutting out gluten is part of the process.  If you think you need to improve your gut health, there is a specific way of doing this so don’t just cut out gluten and hope your gut has healed.  See your healthcare professional for advice.


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