Eating gluten free is healthy. And when asked, I will always tell people this. But it isn’t about cutting carbs or any other quick fix. It boils down to one thing – paying attention to what you eat.
When my daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease at 18 months, my husband and I had to quickly learn which food or products had gluten and which did not. She depended on us to do this since she was too young to read.
At the time, I thought we ate reasonably healthy. I knew we occasionally ate “junk” food and for convenience bought items that were “processed.” However, once I began reading labels, I realized how little I really knew about the food we had been eating.
Initially, there were lots of questions and our diet drastically changed. If I didn’t know what an ingredient was, or if something had been added to (like “broth” to a lot of meats), we didn’t bring it home. This meant more fresh fruit and vegetables and an increase in unprocessed whole grains and organic meats.
Slowly, we added more convenience foods as we became more comfortable with safe ingredients, we had realized how much is added to even the simplest of store-bought items. Besides gluten, soy, high fructose corn syrup and MSG were astonishingly prevalent. Additionally, we found many seemingly healthy foods (like varieties of fruit snacks and cereal bars) are essentially sugar and food coloring.
Paying attention to what we buy and eat paid off. Now, we all regularly crave and eat a fairly diverse range of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Other parents comment on how our kids help themselves to vegetables.
The most amazing thing is how much good information is right there for anyone to read on the product in the form of an ingredient list and nutrition statement.
Knowing what you put into your body is the true first step to healthier eating. Celiac disease and going gluten free forced us to pay attention to what we eat and that has been the healthy difference in our diet.