Not all Gluten-free or Allergy friendly processed foods are created equal. I’ve found that some pre-packaged gluten-free products are just as devoid of nutrition and quality ingredients as the traditional and glutenous processed junk that lines grocery store aisles in excess.
I’ve been meaning to sound off on this for awhile. Now I’m not saying that that all pre-packaged gluten-free (or top 8 allergen free) cookies, cakes, breads, or snacks are bad. There are certainly some amazing brands out there that cater to our health and taste buds. And even the so-so brands are great in moderation. Let’s face it, it’s nice to indulge. But what I see so often in the gluten-free community is the feeling of wanting to replace what’s been lost–sugar laden, bad fat filled, white-floury, processed crap! And filling the void until the main source of food consumed is processed, high in sugar, low in nutrients, and unnatural.
Too many food companies are now catering to this dopamine addiciton in my opinion. My personal experience with being diagnosed and needing to go gluten free was a journey of needing to heal myself. What my malnourished body was crying out for after all the damage to my stomach and intestines was real solid nutrition–something that isn’t always found in processed foods. When you have Celiac Disease, the last thing that is going to heal your nearly non-existant villi is this junk.
And so you’ve become an expert at reading ingredient labels. Now it’s time for the easy part; reading nutrition labels in combination with ingredients. Look for processed foods that include wholesome grains instead of more “white flour” like plain rice flour or potato flour. Check out whole grains, natural ingredients, and organic products now and then. Here’s a few more detailed things to look for when navigating healthier (but just as tasty!) GF processed foods:
DO: (in moderation)
- Real Food Colorants (one example: beet juice colorings instead of “Red40″ or other synthetic colorants)
- Healthy Gluten-free Whole grains (whole grain brown rice, wild rice, brown rice flour, almond flour (if you can tolerate nuts), coconut flour, amaranth, sorghum, quinoa, or buckwheat flour).
- Alternative Sweeteners to White Processed Sugar (some examples: Small amounts of stevia, agave, or raw local honey).
- “Good” fat content–monounsatured fats found often in olive oil, avocado, almonds, etc.
- A SHORT INGREDIENT LIST! — A good rule to follow here is if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Or if it’s over 5 or 6 non-organic ingredients, don’t eat it.
- Organic, Whole Ingredients (I love some of the Organicville Products. The Pasta sauce is soy free, dairy free, gluten free, nut free, egg free).
DON’T: (or limit to rarely)
- Baking mixes or processed breads, snacks, etc. that mainly use “white” flour such as white rice flour or potato flour. These really don’t do much for you in the nutrition department. Stick to the healthier choices listed above. In my opinion, the healthy ones taste better in baking anyway.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup, Raw Sugar, Evaporated Cane Juice and any other form of highly processed/unnnatural sugar in high quantities.
- Artificial ingredients or products that use GMO’s. When you’re healing and living with a disease or allergies, you really want to limit your intake of these natsy buggers.
- High Transfats or Saturated fat content (exception: The saturated fat in Coconut milk or Coconut based products is generally seen as acceptable because of the medium chain fatty acids that are used immediately by your body for energy instead of being stored as fat in the system).
These are just some of the Do’s and Don’ts that have helped me heal along the way. Try not to get into the habit of treating your disease or allergies emotionally or mentally with unhealthy foods. Instead, heal your body which will help heal your attitude and emotional damage much more easily. Of course though, the best source of food you can eat will never be processed–it will be straight from the garden or the tree! Food (fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds) in it’s natural state can never be fully replaced. You’re really not giving up anything when you show your body some much needed love.