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Monday, November 23, 2015

Dietician Approved: Tips for Gluten/ Dairy Free Families

As part of my collaboration with PC Organics I had the chance to speak with a dietician and ask for suggestions and tips to help families eat healthy. With Ari sans gluten and dairy we are often asked about her diet such as what we give her instead of milk, what she can have for snacks, and if we'll raise Liam this way for simplicity (answer: yes), and if you're on the beginning of this journey yourself you're probably asking the same kind of questions.

Whether you have dietary restrictions in your own family or not, a common complaint I hear from other Moms is how busy the evenings are and the challenge to put a meal- bonus if it's healthy!- on the table. This can be even tougher when you need something quick & easy. The struggle is real my friends and our health often suffers for it. Even if you don't have to limit certain foods, the tips below can help you edit your grocery list to include foods packed with a nutritious punch- especially for those busy evenings when you're out of ideas. Here are some suggestions from Jessica, the Loblaws Dietician I spoke to on getting in nutrition if you're gluten/ dairy free. 

How to make sure you get enough calcium if you're dairy free:
  • Milk- dairy free alternatives such as unsweetened nut milks have just as much calcium as cow's milk (I love cashew milk & almond milk)
  • Yogurt- if switching to dairy free yogurts, check the label for sugar content as there can be quite a bit of sugar in yogurts
  • Cheese- try an organic soy cheese; Daiya cheese is another dairy free option
  • Kefir- if you can't have kefir, try dairy free milks such as organic soy or rice milk instead
  • Try eating other foods that are high sources of calcium: 
    • dark, leafy greens such as kale & spinach
    • oranges (who knew? They're the only fruit that's a source of calcium) 
    • beans- especially white beans- are a good source of calcium
    • organic tofu is also a good option, since it's minimally processed and versatile in cooking
It can be misleading when going gluten free what options are not only tasty (as in edible!), but also nutritious. Just because something is gluten free doesn't mean it's better for you; in fact some options can be even less healthy than the regular ones. Lesson: read the label and pay attention to the ingredients. 

Look for the following to get the most out of your gluten free options:
  • Look for high- fibre in processed products such as breads & cereals
    • breads-  look for high- fibre options with at least 3gr of fibre per serving
    • cereals- gluten free cereals tend to have a lot of sugar added for flavour; look for options that are sugar- free or have no more than 6gr of sugar per serving
    • pasta- look for options with whole grains (see below); try organic corn pasta as it's a good option and less processed than rice pasta
  • Make sure grains are gluten free-  the term 'whole grain' can be confusing when identifying gluten free options, so read the label carefully. Here are some examples of GF grains to try:
    • millet
    • amaranth
    • wild rice
    • brown rice
  • Sauces, seasonings, & marinades- always read the label as wheat is used in a lot of them & other processed foods. Double check things like store bought pasta sauces, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, etc
Other general tips for healthy eating:

  • Buy organic if you can afford to; canola and soy are often GMO so it's best to buy them organic
    • if a product is labeled as organic, then it is also non- GMO, but not vice- versa
  • Try cooking with oils high in omega 3s, such as avocado or flax oil (olive oil isn't good for cooking with high temperatures)
  • Find out your daily nutrition requirements and seek out alternatives that will fulfill them
  • Read the label- just because something appears to be healthy doesn't mean it is; this is especially important if you have to avoid certain foods such as gluten and dairy

Visit the PC® Organics website to learn more about their products and to find out how to speak with a Loblaws dietician. 
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