In recent years, celiac diet has been popularized as a highly beneficial diet with a number of health related advantages. It is said that you can lose weight on a celiac diet, yet maintain a healthy lifestyle. Several prominent personalities including models and athletes vouch for this diet for healthy life. However, you must have a basic knowledge of the celiac diet before you begin to try this alternative diet.
What is a celiac diet and why is it necessary?
The term celiac diet connotes a diet which is specifically designed for patients with celiac disease. This diet can be followed by people who are free of celiac disease also. Celiac disease is an auto immune disease with sudden onset. In this disease, the intestines of your digestive system fail to absorb the essential nutrients from the foods that you consume.
As a result, you begin to suffer from a vast number of pains. Celiacs tend to gain or lose weight abruptly and fast. In addition, there are many other symptoms of the celiac disease which appears due to insufficient availability of essential nutrients.Rashes, allergies and itching are common.
The health of skin, hair and teeth suffer. A number of digestive problems begin to manifest. Incomplete digestion gives rise to feelings of bloating, gas and acid reflux. Nausea and vomiting are common. In extreme cases, conditions like diverticulitis may develop.
It is seen that eating gluten in your foods tends to aggravate the celiac disease. Hence, celiac are advised to follow a celiac diet. This diet is completely free of gluten. When celiac regularly stick to the celiac diet, a marked decrease in the severity of the symptoms is noticed.
One common symptom of celiac disease is a feeling of extreme fatigue accompanied by headache immediately following a meal. If celiac diet is followed, these symptoms reduce significantly in intensity within a short time. That is why a special diet has been recommended for people with celiac disease.
Things to be included and excluded from the celiac diet
The food items which have to be excluded from a celiac diet are as follows:
- All gluten rich foods are eliminated. So, all wheat and wheat based products like cakes, cookies, biscuits, pizzas, pasta, spaghetti etc are not allowed in a celiac diet.
- Gluten is used as a thickening agent in sauce, gravy, pudding, mustards etc. So these items are also excluded from a celiac diet.
- In many cases, gluten is used as a food preservative. So, it can be found in processed and preserved foods, chips etc. Celiac diet disallows all such foods.
After the above exclusions, whatever is left can be ingested in a celiac diet. These are:
- Gluten free cereals like rice, millets, quinoa, amaranth etc can be ingested in a gluten-free celiac diet.
- All fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and berries are allowed in a celiac diet.
- Lean protein and beneficial fats like Omega 3 fatty acids etc are also included within the celiac diet.
The impact of celiac diet on your lifestyle
The impact of celiac diet on your lifestyle will be completely diverse depending on whether you do or do not have celiac disease.
If you have celiac disease and so suffer from gluten allergy, celiac diet can have the following impact on your lifestyle:
- It will require some practice to shop for gluten rich food. You will have to give up those TV diners completely. So, if you are following a celiac diet, expect some marked changes in your shopping and eating behavior.
- Beer is not allowed on a celiac diet because it is made from cereals and contains gluten. Your drinking habits may change as you have to switch to other beverages and this may affect your lifestyle.
- It may seem like a hardship to do without your favorite pizza or ice cream, but if you are a celiac, the physical relief of not struggling with an inefficient digestive system will be so great that you will soon begin to accept it as a normal part of your lifestyle.
If you are not a celiac but just want to follow the celiac diet because it is healthy, you will have the following impacts:
- Non celiac generally experience an abrupt weight loss when they start on a celiac diet. This is less due to absence of gluten and more due to the fact that most gluten containing foods are unhealthy and contain a number of useless calories. Getting rid of such foods will help you eat a balanced diet which will work towards normalizing your weight.
- According to FDA standards, foods which contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten is safe for consumption even for celiac. So, you need to read the ingredients list of all the products that you buy. Till you grow used to it and develop your new favorites in place of pizza and pasta, shopping will be a completely new experience and definitely somewhat time taking.
- A number of gluten free products have been launched in the market including gluten free beer called Omission which is brewed from sorghum and gluten free pizza by Domino’s. However, gluten free is not synonymous to healthy. If you replace gluten containing foods with other substitutes with useless fats and calories, your lifestyle is bound to suffer. Instead, you will have to choose your food items carefully so that it is good for your overall health.
In conclusion it must be said that whether you suffer from celiac disease or not, following a celiac diet is bound to affect your lifestyle. Most of these effects will be positive.
You will eat healthier; your weight will be stabilized and physical symptoms like fatigue, headache, gas, diarrhea, constipation etc will disappear. However, there are many pitfalls even within a celiac diet. So, you need to choose your food items carefully in order to fully enjoy the benefits of a celiac diet.