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How can I eat healthy on a gluten-free diet?

Ms. Ashley Koff, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
For both the gluten sensitive or, at the extreme, intolerant person, following a gluten-free nutrition plan is about a lot more than just removing gluten from the diet. To heal the digestive system (and maintain a healthy digestive system), as well as to reduce the risk of other chronic diseases and to maintain a healthy weight, it is critical to consider all aspects of the diet. This means paying attention to quality, quantity, nutrient balance, and frequency. Unfortunately, the surge in "G-free" products has resulted in a glut of options that wouldn't rank high on the nutrient meter and could just trigger other energy imbalances. It's shocking how many G-free products, for instance, contain chemicals, artificial ingredients, and excessive amounts of sugar and unhealthy fats -- as if gluten-free automatically means healthy or healthiest. What's more, some of these ingredients can be irritating, so you eliminate one problem (gluten) but haven't addressed the overall health/energy issue fully. For everyone, especially someone who suffers from allergies, autoimmune disease, or other indications that the body is challenged, we need quality food choices -- period! Anyone choosing to or having to follow a gluten-free diet should aim to make organic and whole-food choices as often as possible.

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Margaret Floyd
Nutrition & Dietetics
It's very doable to eat healthy on a gluten-free diet. The most important thing is that you stick to real, whole foods, and avoid the many gluten-free food products you'll find on grocery store shelves, which often have lots of additives, preservatives, sugar, and other ingredients that are damaging to your health. 

Focus on things that don't have labels -- fresh produce; eggs from pastured chickens; grass-fed meat from the butcher's counter; whole grain brown rice or quinoa. The more you can eat real, whole food as opposed to food products, the easier it is to avoid gluten, and the better it is for your health overall. 

The great news is you don't need gluten in your diet to be healthy, and eliminating it can really encourage other healthy food habits if you use it as an opportunity to move away from processed foods altogether rather than looking for processed gluten-free alternatives. 
Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics
The best way to eat healthy even avoiding gluten is to follow the My Plate Method! Work on your portioning your plate to have 1/2 the plate fruits and vegetables, 1/4 plate lean proteins,1 serving of dairy, and 1/4 plate whole grains. There are many grains that are gluten free. Try: quinoa, couscous, brown rice etc.
Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
You need to educate yourself about gluten free foods. Once you know what to eat finding healthy options is easy. In addition to gluten free set other healthy guidelines. Avoid fried foods. Eat free range eggs. Try hormone free meats. Seek out antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. Read ingredients on gluten free packaged foods. The ingredients may contain too many sugars or saturated fats.
Robyn Goldberg
Nutrition & Dietetics
By consuming high-fiber, gluten-free grains, this would allow the individual to add the nutrients that are oftentimes excluded in many gluten-free foods. What often happens is that when we eat gluten-free our diet can become white and refined. By consuming products that contain quinoa, brown rice, bean/nut flours, amaranth, and buckwheat, to name a few, this would allow the individual to obtain the various B-vitamins in their diet that are often lacking.
Cindy Guirino
Nutrition & Dietetics
Foods that do not contain gluten, commonly the items in the grocery store that do not need labels on them -- the fruits and vegetables -- are very healthy to eat on a gluten-free diet. Add quinoa as a gluten-free grain that contains all the essential amino acids and you have most of your diet covered. Round it out by adding healthy fats and lean fresh meats.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.