A gluten-free diet is used to treat celiac disease — an allergy to the gluten protein that causes inflammation of the small intestine. Although the diet is intended to help individuals suffering from a serious illness, it has also gained attention in the celebrity world. Consequently, stores are well-stocked with gluten-free items, but not all of them are healthy. Eat too many cookies, cakes and other high-fat, sugary foods — gluten-free or otherwise — and you’ll gain weight. To stay slim on a gluten-free diet, you have to monitor your calorie intake and stay active.
Seek professional advice.
For individuals with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet provides relief from painful symptoms and prevents damage to the intestines. If you don’t have the disease, however, gluten is harmless, and you will miss out on essential nutrients by eliminating gluten-containing foods. Before you adopt a gluten-free diet, talk to your physician. If you don’t have a gluten allergy, ask your doctor to help you to develop a healthy diet plan to manage your weight.
Skip the junk food.
As you peruse the aisles at the grocery store, you’ll notice bags of chips, cookies, cakes and brownies with a prominent “gluten-free” label. Don’t be fooled. Gluten-free treats are just as bad for you as regular junk food and probably more expensive. Save sweets and fatty snacks for an occasional treat.
Look for the “big six.”
Manufacturer’s often rely on potato, rice and corn to make gluten-free bread, pasta and crackers. Harder to find, but nutritionally superior, are carbohydrates including amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff. The big six are much higher in vitamins and fiber, according to Melinda Dennis of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Celiac Center. Fiber will fill you up, making you less likely to overeat.
Focus on whole foods.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are gluten-free, low-calorie and packed with essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Snack on carrot sticks, apples or oranges instead of cookies to stay slim. Enjoy lean cuts of beef, pork and poultry for high-protein, low-fat meals. Most dairy products are gluten-free and packed with calcium. Choose low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese to cut calories.
No matter what your dietary restrictions, physical activity is an important part of staying slim. Aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise and two full-body strength training sessions each week.