A Guide to NOT Being Gluten-Dairy-Whatever Free
DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist or registered dietitian and the following advice should not be thought of as hard truth. The information provided is based on a combination of anecdotal evidence and research and should be tested to see if it works for you.
I’m not going to lie; I leaned heavily on my good friend and holistic nutritionist Britt DeLong for a lot of the information in this article.
We all want to look our best, and there’s a lot of confusing information out there about what we should and should not eat.
Before some internet guru convinces you you’re intolerant of a certain food or food group, try these changes and see if you can keep enjoying the foods you like.
Which brings me to my story…
“Are you kidding me, Gav? What the hell are you eating?”
I had been working at Richard Burr Fitness for a couple of months, and I knew Richard had some idiosyncrasies. To this extent, I did not know.
Rich is what you would call an extremist. He finds something that works and he goes all in.
Wait, no. He goes MORE than all in.
So, when Richard started reading research on the benefits of paleo dieting, the positive effects of becoming ketogenic and the life-prolonging results of natural, “clean” eating; you can bet your ass he went all the way.
Rich has been known to eat nothing all day other than 4 coffees (with butter and coconut oil, of course), a huge slab of liver and a homemade energy bar packed with all sorts of natural ingredients.
Oh, he’s also absolutely jacked at 43 years old.
Is it his nutrition? Maybe.
Is it more likely genetics and ruthless consistency? Probably.
Which brings me back to our opening scene. Rich was doing some administrative duties on the computer while I was grabbing a bite in between clients.
That’s when he saw the 0% yogurt in my hand and freaked.
“You know this shit is just packed with sugar, right? Store-bought yogurt is full of garbage and does nothing for you. When dairy is in its natural state, it’s high in fat. What do you think they put in as a filler when they take out the fat?”
There was more, but I don’t want to take up ALL of your time today.
While I wouldn’t say that anyone needs to be as extreme as Rich is, there are some alternatives to the most likely culprits that the internet may tell you you’re sensitive to and should quit altogether.
Before you Quit Eating Dairy….
Go into any mainstream grocery store and take a close look at the yogurt aisle. What do you notice?
#1: It’s absolutely massive, this is big business
#2: Every single one is either 1% or 0% M.F. (percent milk fat)
In my local grocery store, I have to go right to the end of the aisle and often reach to the very back to find the good stuff.
Nowadays for me, the higher the fat content, the better. But, anything with higher than a 3.25% M.F. indicates that it’s made from whole milk; another more natural dairy product I would suggest consuming.
Here are some options for you before you quit eating dairy outright.
Try Eating Less Dairy
According to holistic nutritionist Britt DeLong, people often have success by lowering their animal product intake to 5-10% of their total diet.
Our digestive system is only capable of breaking down so many animal products (specifically dairy and red meat), and digestion can get bogged down with too much.
Whenever someone is having digestive issues with dairy, a reduction is Britt’s first recommendation. Reducing consumption of these foods to 5-10% of your total caloric intake would be best, but eating them every second or third day would be ideal. If 5-10% is still causing you issues, then alternatives to dairy might be your best option.
Try High Fat
I know that most everyone is scared shitless of fat. And while this claim that took the world by storm had some truth to it, it demonized all types of fat; not just the bad types.
The great fat debate will go on forever. All I know is that anecdotal evidence of a good amount of people that follow this advice shows that higher fat dairy tends to produce less gastrointestinal stress.
Richard was certainly on the right track with this one.
DeLong’s biggest concern is that low-fat or nonfat dairy are processed products that we can add to the growing list of processed foods we consume.
Low-fat/nonfat products have been heated, treated and diluted possibly making our essential vitamin and mineral intake lower. There is also research to support that fatty acids are stripped from these lower fat products, which would prevent us from feeling full for longer.
These acids are also essential for our hormone regulation which can control how much fat our body burns or stores, thus making our bodies store more fat when we actually eat healthy foods with fat in them.
Although the price point is higher, organic may be a better option if someone is sensitive to dairy because DeLong says the preservatives, antibiotics, and hormones that the cows making our dairy products are pumped with could be adding to that sensitivity factor.
Holistic Nutrition textbook Staying Healthy with Nutrition, had this to say.
“Milk and butter are a couple foods that are most important to buy organic. Because pesticides are pervasive and stored in higher amounts in fat, dairy products tend to retain higher levels of residues and chemicals from feeds and other sources. Milk is a common source of the herbicide atrazine (a known hormone disrupter) and the growth hormone BGH, which has been genetically engineered to boost milk production in cows. Almost 80% of the cows treated with BGH get udder infections, so there is also increased risk of antibiotics in the milk.”
That’s enough for me…
Before you Quit Eating Pasta and Bread
I know that no matter what mine or my girlfriend’s stomachs say, we are never going to quit eating pasta.
Every night I’m out for dinner or it’s her turn to cook; I can bet on the fact that I’m comin’ home to pasta of some type (not that I’m complaining or anything).
Try These Pasta Alternatives
We have moved to organic kamut pasta, as our local grocery store carries a great brand that’s reasonably priced.
Spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles and soba noodles (made from buckwheat flour) are great alternatives that are still in “pasta” form. Kamut and brown rice pasta are better options if you’re still looking for a “real” pasta noodle.
Try These Bread Alternatives
If you absolutely need to eat bread, your best option is a sprouted grain, according to Britt. This means the grains have already been opened, making them easier to digest. Sourdough is a good option as well, but it’s effects aren’t as well documented.
“There may be acids in sourdough that slow the process of sugars being released into your bloodstream,” says DeLong. “This lowers the glycemic index, meaning your insulin levels won’t spike and you’ll stay satisfied for longer.”
If you’re going to go with whole wheat bread, just make sure whole wheat is actually the first ingredient on the list. Otherwise, you’re getting a cheap product that will probably make you feel less than great.
Before you Quit Eating Meat…
This is something that I’ve seen a lot of my friends and FaceBook acquaintances doing lately and it got me to thinking; is this just some fad or could it be for reals?
The thought of removing meat from my diet has never even crossed into my stratosphere. But, after hearing what Britt had to say on the subject (her husband is another I would never have pegged to eat less meat), I can see where people are coming from.
Try Eating Less Meat (Especially Red Meat)
Much like the dairy conundrum; if you feel that meat is causing digestive issues, your first move should be to reduce your intake, particularly in the red meat department (beef, pork and lamb).
DeLong says that red meat puts more stress on the digestive system due to the high amounts of fat, sodium and excess protein that our body simply has trouble dealing with all at once.
Once you’ve cut down your red meat intake, you can eat more fish and poultry; which is much easier on the gut, especially in higher quantities.
Try Eating Better Meat
Most of the “regular” animal products we come across nowadays have been fed stimulants and antibiotics to prevent infection; therefore organic is a better option, especially if meat tends to cause GI issues.
Grass-fed beef can also be a great alternative, as long as it’s been grass fed throughout it’s life. FUN FACT: Farmers often feed grain to their cattle near the end of their life to fatten them up. Hmm, grain to fatten them up, eh? That doesn’t bode well for us, does it?
Just like dairy, remove everything the meat is being pumped full of and see if you feel any better. That; in combination with lowering your meat intake, may do the trick.
In the grand scheme of things, foods such as dairy, pasta, bread and meat are not inherently “bad” for anyone. In fact, they are often staples of a healthy diet.
Once you can prove that you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet on a regular basis; then we can start talking about food sensitivities and making some tweaks. Until then, we don’t know if it’s a sensitivity or just the fact that you ate like crap the day before.
In general, the following steps are relatively foolproof if something is messing with your stomach:
1. Eat less in total, or less relative to other foods
2. Try alternatives for dairy, pasta, bread and red meat
3. Try eating higher quality foods such as natural, organic or spray-free
Or you could just do what Richard does and eat a steady diet of grass-fed butter, liver, and coffee.
To living your best life,
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