Living with Celiac Disease is no easy feat — even after diagnosis. Though it can be treated by maintaining a gluten free diet, it isn’t that simple. Once you have gotten into the rhythm of eating a g-free diet, your body changes – especially your bowel movements.
Across the board, most people aren’t getting enough fiber as is. Men are encouraged to consume up to 35-40g per day and females at least 25g per day. Doctors, nutritionists, and other health professionals recommend eating whole grains to get all of the fiber you need each day, however for us that’s not really an option.
You see, the gluten free alternatives to grains like breads, pastas, and cereals are very low in fiber as they are made from low fiber flours and starches. That means we need to turn to more alternatives to make sure we get enough fiber in our diets.
With celiac and gluten-sensitivity and celiac disease, it is vital to our well-being that we maintain a healthy, well-functioning gut. This is about much more than simply avoiding gluten. Getting an adequate source of fiber is important for those who suffer from diarrhea and constipation, and it helps combat so many of the uncomfortable gut symptoms that those of us with celiac and gluten sensitivity know too well.
So what’s a celiac to do? How can we get the food and fuel we need to maintain a healthy, balanced diet and gut?
What Is Fiber?
Since now you know that it’s kind a big deal, why don’t we define it . . .
Fiber is a part of the food we eat that can’t be digested by your body. Other components of the food we eat like fats, proteins, and carbs are broken down and absorbed. Fiber though, remains pretty much intact as it passes through your intestines and colon on its way out of your body.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance, helping to lower your cholesterol. It is most prominent in legumes such as beans and lentils, as well as fruits, veggies, and seeds like flax and chia.
Insoluble fiber soaks up water as it passes through your digestive system, and helps to combat constipation. Sources of insoluble fiber include quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, fruits, veggies and nuts.
Incorporating both types of fiber into your diet improve inner workings of your intestines and provide your body with the nutrients needed to maintain a healthy gut.
Gluten Free Sources of Fiber
Luckily, there are some more significant sources of fiber out there for those who can’t eat the whole grains that most people can consume.
Here are a few examples . . .
Fruits and Veggies
- 1 Cup of Figs: 14.6 grams of fiber
- 1 Cup of Avocado: 10.5 grams of fiber
- 1 Cup of Artichokes: 10.3 grams of fiber
- 1 Cup of Cooked Peas: 8 grams of fiber
- 1 Cup of Raspberries: 8 grams of fiber
- 1 Cup of Coconut: 7 grams of fiber
- 1 Medium Apple: 5 grams of fiber
- 1 Cup of Broccoli: 5 grams of fiber
- 1 cup of cooked Teff: 7 grams of fiber
- 1 cup of cooked Quinoa: 5 grams of fiber
- 1 cup of cooked Amaranth: 5 grams of fiber
- 1 cup of cooked Buckwheat: 5 grams of fiber
GF Protein Bars
Though not necessarily the most natural and clean source out there of Fiber many protein bars on the market today pack in a punch of fiber.
- Quest Nutrition protein bars: Average about 13-16 grams per bar.
- Julian’s Bakery Paleo and Pegan protein bars: Average from 17-23g per bar.
Beans / Legumes
- 1 Cup of Split Peas: 16 grams of fiber
- 1 Cup of Black beans: 12-15 grams of fiber
- 1 Cup of Lima Beans: 13 grams of fiber
- 1 Cup of Chickpeas: 11 grams of fiber
- 1 Cup of Lentils: 10 grams of fiber
For me this issue remains close to home. Over the last two years, I have seen significant changes in my bowels, and have made it a point to increase my fiber intake to improve regularity.
The thing is that most people are afraid to talk about this issue, since it for one isn’t the most pleasant and appealing thing to bring up in conversation, and two it’s often seen as embarrassing – which is likely tied to the frequent usage of potty humor in today’s media.
Fact of the matter is, that people are weird about poop. I find this so funny because it’s a natural thing that just happens, and whether you go too much or cannot go enough, is kind of important.
For me, no doctor ever asked me about my bowels until I was 18 years old. 18! I went that long knowing I was by no means normal going 7-10 times a day.
Though at the time, it wasn’t a laughing matter, I can’t now help but make light of it having been gluten free for the last 6-7 years.
In all seriousness though, we need to start talking about these issues. Awareness of your bowels is key to addressing and even diagnosing food allergies of all kinds – not just celiac disease.
So there you have it. I opened the dialogue. Now it’s on all of you to continue the conversation.