Sure, nutrition bars can be part of a healthy diet, but most have tons of added sugar, unhealthy carbohydrates, and extra calories – not to mention additives and preservatives, which can cause digestive issues.
Since starting my low sugar diet in January, I had given up KIND bars; the ones I was eating had way too much sugar. It wasn’t until recently that I learned about their Nut & Spice line which offers flavors with 5 grams or less of sugar per bar!
All KIND snacks are made from all-natural whole nuts, fruits, and whole grains. There is no refined sugar or anything artificial in any of their products. KIND believes that if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it shouldn’t go into your body, and I agree with them 100%.
KIND offers three lines of whole nut and fruit bars—KIND Fruit & Nut, KIND PLUS, and KIND Nuts & Spices.
Although they are a little low in protein, KIND bars are a clean and quick on-the-go choice with healthy fats, fiber, and a low sugar content. Although the amount of sugar in some of the fruit and nut bars is rather high for me – 9 to 16 grams– many of the bars do contain fewer than 6 grams per serving.
All KIND products are dairy free (except the yogurt bars), cholesterol free, and gluten free. Every product is tested for gluten, and meets the FDA’s requirement of 20ppm. KIND’s manufacturing plant is dedicated gluten free, and has a strict allergen control program. Moreover, their products are non-GMO, low in sodium, and have zero trans fat.
What I look for when choosing a bar is a sugar content of less than 6 grams per serving, at least 4 grams of fiber, low sodium, and less than 3 grams of saturated fat. The bars highlighted below are the bars I love and buy all the time.
KIND healthy grain clusters (aka granola) contain healthy, unique 100% whole grains like amaranth and quinoa; superfoods like blueberries and chia; and delicious ingredients like dark chocolate and maple syrup.
My favorite is the Maple Walnut Clusters with Chia and Quinoa, and with only 6g of sugar per serving it’s not too high for me! I love the healthy blend of chia, quinoa, amaranth, oats, milte and buckwheat, with the sweet touch of maple syrup. Each serving contains 300mg of Omega-3 fatty acids and provide 17g of whole grains!
KIND products can be purchased in local grocery and health stores. They can also be purchased online.
Sometimes I like to dream. I’m not just talking about casual daydreams that revolve around your future house or dream vacation, I’m talking about the big-time. The life changing dreams like quitting gluten, sugar, and alcohol. It seems impossible, but humans are more than capable of surviving without it, and the outcome is filled with nothing but rewards.
Sugar, Alcohol, and Gluten.
The problem with these substances is that gluten, sugar, and alcohol don’t have immediate tangible effects on your body. The real dangers sit in the medium to long term effects.
Not only do they negatively affect your health and bodily functions, but they also contribute to the deterioration of your mind.
It’s obviously much easier to abandon habits that are conclusively “bad” for you. For example, eating something that you know makes you nauseous or ties up your digestive system. Imagine a lactose-intolerant person eating a pint of ice cream. It tastes good, but it makes a negative effect on the body.
It can be harder to give up substances like gluten, sugar, and alcohol because of their indirect effects. However, don’t be fooled, these products will harm you slowly.
Gluten, although controversial, has adverse effects on your digestive system and your brain.
If you successfully quit these products then here’s what you’ll start noticing:
Basically, when you eliminate gluten and sugar you will stop upsetting your stomach. You may not know exactly which foods were causing the problem but this elimination will set you in the right direction. You’ll notice that you won’t be bloated when you wake up in the morning and you won’t have gas after every meal.
Stop taking those artificial energy boosters by cleansing your diet.
This will take the poison out of the foods you’re eating and add a spring to your step.
Eating clean will boost your energy levels and have you feeling more active.
Surprisingly, you’ll actually need less sleep. Incredible, I know. Gluten, sugar, and alcohol mess with your sleep cycle pretty severely leading to lower quality sleep. Without them, you’ll actually find that you feel the same with an hour less sleep at night. That’s an hour extra of your day to spend doing something worthwhile.
4. No more sugar spikes:
You won’t have to deal with the daily fluctuations that come along on the sugar roller coaster. The cycle of sugar spikes, much like the cycle of drunkenness, offers moments of intense excitement and elation, followed by phases of intense regret and fatigue. Stop the buck by switching your diet.
You know exactly what’s going into your body when you start limiting your diet. You start becoming more aware of what’s in the stuff you eat. A lot of the food we buy is processed and full of random ingredients, but eating clean will force you to be informed and pay attention to the ingredient list.
Everything you eat starts to become a conscious decision, not just a momentary desire. Once you realize what’s in other products, you may even abandon them too…
6. No alcohol:
You don’t need alcohol to be social. This is the big one. Unfortunately, many people feel like they’re socially dependent on alcohol to have a good time, and more important, to not feel uncomfortable or awkward at social gatherings. It’s a myth, though.
Sure, the first time will be weird, the second time a little less weird, and so on. Until one day you realize that you feel perfectly comfortable and social without alcohol. Your method of social interaction simply adapts and reforms itself. In fact, you may actually improve your social skills, making genuine conversation instead of rambling in a numbingly drunken state.
The health of your soul, mind, and body are all interconnected, and making small adjustments can bring you back to a balanced whole. When you put more care into your food, your life will ultimately be the better for it.
Maybe you’ve heard of the books Wheat Belly or Grain Brain. Maybe you’ve chatted with friends about a NY Times editorial claiming that gluten free is a fad. Maybe you’ve been raised, as I have, in a cultural consciousness that says, yeah food matters, but not that much.
I’d love to tell you a story I read about in the primary published literature that seems to suggest that yes, gluten is an issue. No it’s not a wellness fad. And its elimination may very well be the key to resolving what would otherwise be a chronic and disabling psychiatric condition.
A Case Report
She was 37, studying for her doctoral degree, under some degree of stress related to this, when she began expressing beliefs that people were talking about her. These beliefs progressed to paranoid accusations when she was burglarized a few months later and accused her parents of complicity.
She was hospitalized at a state psychiatric facility and labeled with psychotic disorder, treated with risperidone and sertraline and discharged after one month.
She was ultimately diagnosed with Hashimoto’s as well as Celiac disease which accounted for her multiple nutrient deficiencies, weight loss, and inability to absorb thyroid hormone medication.
Amazingly, the case report goes on to state:
After receiving the diagnosis of celiac disease, the patient thought her practitioners were being deceitful regarding the diagnosis and refused to adhere to a gluten-free diet. Psychotic symptoms and paranoia persisted, and she continued to “find clues” of conspiracy against her. She lost her job, became homeless, and attempted suicide; her family took out a restraining order against her. Eventually, she was rehospitalized at a psychiatric facility, where she was placed on a gluten free diet.
After 3 months on a strict gluten-free diet at an inpatient facility, her delusions resolved completely (associated with remission of Celiac confirmed by negative serologies and biopsy), but she was continued on risperidone for several months. At the time of the case write up, she had relapsed psychiatrically after an inadvertent exposure to gluten.
The Gluten Brain Connection
In this report, Dr. Alessio Fasano cautions not to initiate a gluten free dietary trial before an intestinal biopsy can be obtained (so as to avoid a false negative result). Should this be universal procedure for all those presenting with symptoms of psychiatric and neurologic illness? Or is there a path of less harm in a trial of a strict gluten free diet. Available literature suggests that brain-based manifestations of Celiac disease are possible. A related case report demonstrated on SPECT scanning that frontal lobe damage and associated symptoms of psychosis and diarrhea resolved with a gluten-free dietary intervention.
And what if the biopsy is negative? What about the ever-increasing acknowledgement of non-celiac gluten enteropathy and its very real psychiatric manifestation including depression and psychosis? According to Dr. Hadjivassiliou, “Gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times exclusively a neurological disease” without co-occuring small intestinal pathology or subjective gut complaints. A related paper states:
“Gluten can cause neurological harm through a combination of cross reacting antibodies, immune complex disease and direct toxicity. These nervous system affects include: dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system, cerebella ataxia, hypotonia, developmental delay, learning disorders, depression, migraine, and headache. If gluten is the putative harmful agent, then there is no requirement to invoke gut damage and nutritional deficiency to explain the myriad of the symptoms experienced by sufferers of celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity. This is called “The Gluten Syndrome”.”
Sayer Ji of Greenmedinfo.com details the history dating back to 1951 of gluten in psychiatric and specifically psychotic illness. More recent data has demonstrated that patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia are 2-3 times as likely to have immune reactivity to wheat. This report dovetails with an American Journal of Psychiatry study that correlated high levels of gliadin antibodies in cord blood with the later onset of psychosis in the offspring. Perhaps this immunoinflammatory priming is happening in utero and perpetuated through exposure to wheat products over the lifespan.
Psychiatric Medication: Worse Than Nothing
The time lost to identify the root cause of this 37 year old patient’s illness – which could be characterized as autoimmune alone rather than autoimmune AND psychiatric – resulted in almost a year of exposure to an ineffective antipsychotic medication. No harm in that, right?
In this thorough and thoughtful discussion, investigative journalist Robert Whitaker explores the long-term data including Harrow’s prospective study of 200 subjects over 15 years and Wunderink’s 7 year study of 128 first-psychosis cases, both of which both demonstrated that discontinuation of antipsychotic medication led to better long term outcomes for patients with psychosis. This is not to mention medication-induced brain shrinkage, the risk of severe relapse on drug discontinuation, and tardive psychosis (chronic symptoms on meds induced by compensatory physiology) with drug continuation. And the cavalier and dismissive posture on the part of those at the helm of the ship of psychiatry.
What if a course of “first do no harm” actually looked like any effort to accomplish this very intention. What if there were inpatient facilities where strict unprocessed (which automatically takes out gluten, sugar, and commercial dairy!) anti-inflammatory, organic diets were offered in a low chemical setting with the support of safe practices such as yoga, meditation, and even acupuncture in addition to community support? If there were, I know some corporate entities that might be less than pleased with the outcomes, but this shouldn’t stop us from taking matters into our own hands preventatively. Clean up your mind, clean up your body, and learn about the way processed foods have you dangling from a puppet string.
Over the past 35 years, psychiatry—as an institution—has remade our society. This is the medical specialty that defines what is normal and not normal. This is the medical specialty that tells us when we should take medications that will affect how we respond to the world. And this is the profession that determines whether such medications are good for our children. Given that influence, we as a society naturally have reason to want to know how the leaders in the profession think, and thus how they come to their conclusions about the merits of their drugs.– Robert Whitake
If you’re gluten-free or simply like to experiment with alternatives to white flour, chances are you’ve had a few kitchen catastrophe with gluten-free flour.
What was meant to be a moist cake or a chewy cookie has crumbled, sagged or hardened like a rock. What went wrong?
One of the common mistakes when baking gluten-free is expecting the same results when you swap white flour for the alternative.
Almond meal is very soft and works best with moist, fragrant recipes. Almond meal can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio with flour, however, don’t expect it to rise like a normal cake!
To help the bake hold its shape, recipe developer Meg Yonson combines it with a firmer flour like buckwheat, quinoa or rice (more on that in a bit). And if you don’t have those on hand, you can still make a melt-in-the-mouth souffle or soft cookie just fine with almond meal and some baking powder.
Buckwheat flour is dense, nutty and lends itself well to almost anything. It’s our recipe developer’s favorite! It’s also high in nutrients like zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese, giving your dessert a little health kick.
Due to its heavy texture, it’s best to combine it with almond meal so you don’t accidentally end up with rock cakes. But other than that, you can pretty much swap it for white flour in any recipe. We do!
While coconut flour can be a beast to work with, the results are well worth it when you get it right. Because yum, coconut.
It’s essential to remember to NEVER substitute coconut flour for white flour. It soaks up liquid like a ShamWow. You’ll need to use ¼ cup of coconut flour for 1 cup of regular flour, and maybe add an extra egg or two. And then some more liquid.
We recommend following a recipe from a trusted source before experimenting with this stuff. Our sweet potato brownies, luckily, are foolproof and only use 3 tablespoons of coconut flour. How’s that for budget-friendly?
Bonus round: all of the flours.
Almond, buckwheat and coconut are our favourite gluten-free flours due to their taste, texture and nutritional quality. But there are a few alternatives rising (get it?) up the ranks…
Green banana flour: Made from powdered unripe bananas, this flour gives fluffy results when you use 30 per cent less than white flour in the recipe. The great benefit is that it contains huge amounts of resistant starch, which is great for gut health.
Teff flour: Teff is tiny grain that packs a huge nutritional punch – iron, calcium, B vitamins AND it’s a complete source of protein. Teff flour can be used whole or in part for white flour, yielding dense but delicious results.
Quinoa flour: With the highest protein count of all the grains, quinoa flour is great for healthify-ing a sweet treat. While you can substitute it for white flour 1:1, we recommend combining with almond or coconut as the taste can be quite bitter.
Makes 1 Loaf
- 6 pastured eggs, separated
- 1/2 cup grass-fed Whey Protein
- Grass-fed butter (to grease pan)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Use middle rack and remove any racks above as bread will expand while baking.
Generously butter a loaf pan/dish with grass-fed butter. (Side note: If possible, use a ceramic pan. The bread will cook evenly without sticking, and a ceramic pan won’t leach chemicals like Teflon cookware will.)
Beat 6 egg whites until stiff peaks form – a hand mixer on high works well. Really beat the whites until the peaks are VERY stiff. If you don’t beat them enough, they’ll collapse when you add the whey and egg yolks, and you’ll end up with a Styrofoam-like concoction. Yuck.
Add ½ cup of Whey Protein and the 6 yolks, blend gently on low just until fully incorporated. The batter will be fluffy.
Pour batter into prepared dish and place in oven.
Bake for 40 minutes.
Remove and allow to cool completely. The loaf will sink to a normal height.
Once fully cooled, release from dish, slice and serve.
Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days.
Reheating recommendation: Heat a skillet to medium-high and add ghee or grass-fed butter, sear bread slices in skillet until lightly toasted on each side, about 30 seconds per side. Do not overheat.
Keep in mind that oxidized cholesterol from the cooked egg yolks and the denatured whey protein can cause a little inflammation, so don’t eat this every day. Stick to every few days, if you can control yourself. 😉
This recipe was adapted from “The Ketogenic Cookbook” by Jimmy Moore and Maria Emmerich.
Depending how they’re measured, sales of gluten-free foods represent somewhere between $4 to $10 billion annually, and there’s no sign of this food trend slowing down anytime soon. Things are looking rosy for the food companies who sell the wildly popular breads, crackers, cookies, muffins, chips and snack bars labeled “gluten-free,” but for those of us who eat them regularly, there may be a downside. Or three.
Gluten: Yep, you read that correctly. Apparently, not all “gluten-free” foods are in fact gluten free, and that’s a serious problem for people with celiac disease, for whom exposure to even trace amounts of gluten can trigger an autoimmune reaction. Multiple recent studies that analyzed the gluten content of “gluten-free” foods – both those foods considered “naturally gluten free” as well as some packaged foods explicitly labeled “gluten free” – have found that a non-trivial percentage of these foods actually contained more than 20 parts per million of gluten, the threshold under which a food must fall in order to be considered gluten-free. For example, one study from Canada tested 600 flours made from non-gluten containing grains and found that about 10 percent of them contained over 20 ppm of gluten; in this study, the most likely products to be contaminated were soy flour, millet and buckwheat. Similarly, a recent U.S. study of 158 packaged foods showed that 5 percent of such foods labeled “gluten free” exceeded the 20 ppm threshold for gluten. Products that failed the gluten-free test ranged from unnamed brands of gluten-free breads, breadcrumbs and “herbal beverages” to cookies, hot cereal and a rice-based tortilla. While these studies indicate that the majority of gluten-free foods do live up to their claims, they expose the troubling fact that gluten-free labeling is not yet as reliable as it needs to be. Indeed, the recently enacted U.S. Food and Drug Administration labeling laws for gluten-free foods do not require manufacturers using the “gluten-free” claim to independently test their products and verify the claim.
If you have celiac disease and rely heavily on packaged foods in your daily diet – or if you continue to exhibit positive celiac antibodies despite following what you believe is a strict gluten-free diet – it may be worth considering the possibility that you’re being exposed to gluten through your “gluten-free” food staples. Consider subscribing to registered dietitian Tricia Thompson’s “Gluten Free Watchdog” service that independently tests the gluten content of several packaged foods per month, and check out tips from dietitian Shelley Case to help reduce the likelihood of gluten exposure from your purportedly gluten-free diet.
Gums. The vast majority of Americans who seek to reduce intake of gluten-containing foods don’t have celiac disease and probably don’t need to worry about occasional exposure to trace amounts of gluten. A noteworthy subset of gluten-free dieters includes those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, who often avoid wheat in their diets due to its perceived adverse effect on digestive symptoms, such as gas and bloating. (This effect is increasingly being attributed to something in wheat other than the gluten, incidentally.) Unfortunately, there are plenty of other food ingredients that contribute to gas and bloating in these sensitive individuals, and among them are a category of food additives called gums.
Gums are naturally-derived food additives, and include compounds such as xanthan gum, guar gum and gum arabic. They are used liberally in gluten-free baking as texture enhancers to replace the elastic properties typically provided by wheat gluten, as their ability to thicken and stabilize doughs helps improve the consistency and moisture of notoriously dense and crumbly gluten-free goods. Indeed, food gums are found almost universally in commercial gluten-free baked goods, such as breads, cookies, cakes and muffins. (They’re also used widely in other food applications, such as ice creams, lowfat yogurts and non-dairy milks.)
Alas, many types of gums happen to also be highly fermentable in the gut, which means they may contribute to gas and bloating in susceptible individuals – particularly when intake is high. To be clear, food gums are not considered harmful or unhealthy, and consuming fermentable carbohydrates such as those represented by gums may be a good thing, healthwise, for their prebiotic effects. But for people who are more sensitive to pain associated with intestinal gas, high intake of food gums may just be too uncomfortable to bear. In these cases, I recommend choosing dry or crunchy alternatives to moist gluten free baked goods – think gluten-free crackers or crispbreads rather than moist breads. And if gluten itself isn’t the enemy, many of my non-celiac IBS patients can handle minimally-processed, gum-free spelt bread (not gluten-free) far better than many popular brands of gluten-free bread.
A largely undeserved health halo. National survey results suggest that the primary motivation for gluten-free food purchases may be the belief that such foods are generally healthier than their conventional counterparts. Whether this belief derives from the inherent bias conveyed by a “free-from” claim (‘”if a food is claiming to be free of gluten, it’s got to be a bad thing, right?”) or from wheat-bashing bestsellers such as “Wheat Belly” and “Grain Brain,” the fact remains that gluten-free foods enjoy a healthful halo among many consumers.
And yet, gluten-free packaged foods have one important thing in common with their glutinous counterparts: The majority of them are absolute junk. These include empty-calorie chips, crackers and bars that are high in starchy carbs and sugar while low in fiber; breads made from the least nutritious starches on the planet and held together by food gums; and high-glycemic cereals made from white rice flour or refined corn that’s been sprinkled with vitamin dust. In other words, from a nutritional standpoint, many (most?) people without celiac disease may be far better off having a simple bowl of sugar-free Shredded Wheat, a gluten-containing piece of spelt bread or minimally processed Scandinavian crispbread than they would the vast majority of their gluten free alternatives today. And while I’m encouraged to see the nutritional quality of some gluten-free packaged foods improving, there still remains only a minority of gluten-free packaged foods that I’d consider truly nutritious and health-promoting. As such, I encourage my patients to consider the merits of a given food based on what it does contain rather than what it doesn’t.
There is no one single “best” diet, and a well-planned, minimally processed gluten-free diet can be as nutritious – if not moreso – as any other well-planned diet that includes wheat. Conversely, a gluten-free diet can be as junky as the junkiest wheat-based diet out there. Going gluten-free guarantees nothing about health (unless, of course, you have celiac disease), not does it guarantee digestive bliss in cases where gluten is not the problem. At the end of the day, good health is the product of what we do eat, not what we don’t.