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Macro Monday: What's Up With Gluten?

Gluten has been getting attacked pretty badly these days.

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Almost every restaurant has little gluten-free symbols on their menu, stores have gluten free sections, and these days saying "I don't eat gluten" doesn't elicit blank stares or strange comments.

I've been asked many times about whether or not I eat gluten, or if I think gluten is bad.

Here's the thing: I don't think any food is bad.

There are no bad foods, and there are no good foods. There is just food. Some food is more natural than others, some saltier, some sweeter & some more bitter.

Each food has a different energy, and therefore, will affect you in different ways.Making this connection will enable you to make empowered food choices, to create the kind of energy you desire. And also to know what to expect from the food that you are eating.

{of course, if you are celiac or have an allergy to a certain food then obviously don't eat it!}

I avoided gluten - mainly wheat & rye - for a few years, because when I ate those foods, I felt bad: my digestion suffered, and I just felt crappy. But over the last few years, my stomach & digestion has healed a lot, and these days I can eat wheat without so many problems. Rye is still kinda touchy for me - sometimes okay, sometimes not.

When I eat wheat, mostly in the form of bread - cause that's my favourite - I try my best to choose natural sourdough or sprouted wheat bread, because I have found that they are easier on my system. I pay attention though, to how often I'm eating it, because the key thing to remember, for ANY food is:

"The dose makes the poison."

Of course, I do occasionally have other kinds of bread, and it's in these cases especially that "the dose makes the poison." Baguette with dinner one night - no problem. Having it again the next morning for breakfast (though so delicious), and then finishing it off for lunch, and a day later repeating this: for me, that's a problem. My belly can handle wheat, but not multiple times a day for multiple days in a row. (You of course, may be different!).

Choosing sprouted, or natural sourdough breads have enabled me to enjoy wheat more regularly in my diet. But I can tell when I've overdone it, and when my belly is asking for a break. And the same follows for all foods.

The best thing you can do for your diet it to make sure it is varied: eat a wide variety of grains, veggies, beans & legumes etc. And if you are having or noticing any problems after consuming any specific foods, try taking a break from them for awhile.

So back to the gluten chat:

I think that gluten-containing foods can definitely be harder to digest, and may cause problems for some individuals, especially when eaten in excess. I don't need to tell you about all the potential problems caused by gluten, because that information is everywhere these days.  But I do think that the hype around making gluten evil is very overly dramatic, and it is worth it to dig a bit deeper and experiment for yourself - don't just believe something without trying it and experiencing it for yourself. Maybe you'll agree, maybe not - but you'll learn a lot through the process.

Eating gluten-containing foods may or may not be right for you, but here are a few things to consider:

  1. The form of gluten being consumed
    Perhaps you do fine eating pasta, but you can't seem to digest bread. Or perhaps crackers are fine, but pasta hurts your stomach. Gluten isn't just one thing. There are many kinds of foods that contain gluten, from many different grains, cooked/baked into many different products. Perhaps there are other factors than the gluten itself that bother you, such as the yeast in the bread, or the sauce on the pasta, or the specific brand of bread/pasta/crackers you are buying. Sure, it may be gluten, but it can often pay off to experiment and look at the bigger picture as well.
  2. The level of processing
    Wonder bread is not the same thing as natural sourdough bread made with organic whole grains that were stone ground in the bakery. Two entirely different worlds of gluten there. Also, pasta that is made in Italy from durum wheat using traditional methods is very different than some pastas here are that are made of a blend of different wheats, with other strange things added in to boost protein and omegas etc. Choosing the oldest, simplest, most straight forward traditionally prepared gluten containing food is very likely going to be much easier on your belly than something made in a factory, out of hybrid food-like products, meant to last for years.
  3. Choosing older versions of wheat
    Spelt, Kamut, & Einkorn are all older forms of wheat - and they are more nutritious and often much easier to digest when compared with the modern wheat that was altered and developed in the sixties to increase crop yields. So, when possible choose interesting kinds of wheat, and of course, always try to buy local & organic when possible. <3
  4. Gluten-free stuff is often very questionable
    Okay, I just feel like I have to say this: I'll take a white flour bakery baguette in a heart beat over a potato starch / tapioca starch / guar gum / carageenan based gluten free bread any day. What even are those ingredients!!?? Be choosy. You can get high quality gluten free stuff, and you can also get utter junk!

I come from a long line of grain eaters - Swiss & Scottish - and I truly enjoy eating delicious & nutritious real bread, every so often. I'm so happy that I healed my belly and learned how to listen to it. Now I can enjoy my bread, but I'm still very picky if I'm going to eat wheat, and pay attention when I do.

What are your thoughts: Gluten, yay or nay?
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