When a person is newly diagnosed with celiac disease, it’s natural to focus on food choices, only to discover that many of them are gluten-containing foods.
However, attention should also be paid to the number of calories consumed when we change our diet, or incorporate a very abrupt change.
Celiac disease and weight problems
Before a diagnosis of abdominal disease, many people have trouble maintaining their weight. Gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley, damages the lining of the small intestine, making it impossible for the body to absorb essential nutrients and vitamins.
However, once a person begins following a gluten-free diet, the digestive system heals and is able to absorb nutrients normally. This is when weight gain can occur.
“The person may be used to eating unusually large amounts of food to compensate for the damaged villi. [pequeños capilares en la pared intestinal] and you need to understand that consuming such a large amount of food when your gut is already healed will result in weight gain.”says Margaret Weiss Masiello, Clinical Coordinator at the Kogan Cell Center at St. Barnabas Health System in Livingston, NJ
Gluten-free diet: ways to avoid weight gain
Increased absorption is not the only cause of weight gain on a gluten-free diet. People with celiac disease should follow these tips to help keep their weight under control.
- Keep track of serving sizes. Without the strict properties and sticky of gluten, gluten-free recipes must use other means to hold starch-based products together. This is often accomplished with larger than usual amounts of oil, eggs, and butter, which are very dense and result in smaller serving sizes for most gluten-free products. For example, a serving size for traditionally packaged cookies might be two, while for a gluten-free product it would be one.
- Increase fiber intake. Fiber helps people feel fuller and longer, and because many gluten-free products are low in fiber, they may not be completely satisfying. Eating more fruits and vegetables can help keep hunger at bay.
- Elige low-fat gluten-free products when possible.
- Lean meat. Choose lean meats, fish, and chicken as sources of protein.
- Eat a varied diet. Anyone who eats too many high-calorie foods like pasta will gain weight, whether gluten-free or regular. Keep track of portion sizes and include a salad.
- Plan variety in individual meals. Avoid meals with only one food group. For example, add nuts and seeds to gluten-free cereals.
Just because a person is diagnosed with celiac disease doesn’t mean they can ignore healthy habits. Exercise is vital to maintaining a healthy weight and controlling portions.
A gluten-free diet and weight gain do not have to go hand in hand. With a little research and careful meal planning, it’s never been easier to go gluten-free or feel healthier while avoiding weight gain.