Gluten-Free Myth 5: You’ll Have Bloating and Constipation

Ha. Ha. Ha. And ha.

Do you remember the days before you went gluten free? Did you suffer from bloating and constipation? It’s okay if you don’t want to admit it here, but it’s pretty clear the makers of this video have No Idea what celiac disease is like. Bloat, I am embarrassed to say, used to be my middle name.

And it’s the first symptom that I’ve accidentally ingested gluten. Suddenly, my waistbands become two sizes too small. The rest of the symptoms follow like evil soldiers.

The reason for the bloating and constipation is due to, ahem, less fiber in your diet. At the risk of repeating myself — and this is the final time! — these are not the exclusive province of the gluten-free diet. Fiber and gluten are unrelated, though whole grain breads do provide *some* fiber. Just not enough to make a huge difference, unless you’re eating it by the loaf.

Fiber in our diets is pretty simple to acquire. Fruits and vegetables are amazing sources of fiber, and you know me well enough to understand that I am a huge advocate (and eater) of fruits and vegetables. They make up a huge part of my daily food intake, and my digestive systems seem appreciative of this fact. Of course, since the elimination of gluten from my life, my digestive system has generally treated me very well.

I also advocate legumes and pulses (surprise!) for fiber. Since my gall bladder surgery, I find it a courtesy to other humans to reduce the amounts of legumes I eat in a single serving — my liver can’t do all the work! — but I still make sure they are a key part of my diet.

Fiber, either soluble or insoluble, doesn’t get digested by the body. It serves the all-important task of helping digestion (soluble fiber), which is great for reducing blood glucose and cholesterol. Insoluble fiber helps with the overall food elimination process. Most plant-based foods have a mix of the two types of fiber.

Fiber also contributes to an overall feeling of fullness, though you don’t want to overdo on the fiber as there can be uncomfortable side effects (including bloating and gas). You will figure out the right balance of fiber to other nutrients for you, which can range from 38 grams for men to 25 grams for women, with lower amounts if you’re over 50.

It wasn’t hard to find commonalities in all these myths: 1) it’s not the gluten-free diet, stupid; 2) a balanced diet does wonders to eliminate nutritional deficiencies; 3) everything in balance; and, 4) Swiss chard FTW!

Tip of the Week

Looking for a surprise and sweet form of fiber? Try berries such as raspberries and blackberries. Or, jump on the whole avocado craze wholeheartedly. Avocados have about 6.7 grams of fiber per half.

Gluten-Free Meal of the Week

So we’re going to have to enjoy a high-fiber meal this week, aren’t we? Okay then, let’s do it!

I am still loving the Lentil Bolognese I made a while back. Not only was it a perfect meal for Meatless Monday, but I was able to repurpose it as a lunch food and a topping for baked sweet potatoes. Total (high fiber) win!

Lentil Bolognese over Pasta (or rice or spaghetti squash)

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