Susan Rowan, gluten-free whole foods

I just got back from a great evening hosted by the Canadian Celiac Association’s Toronto chapter with guest speaker, Susan Rowan, who talked about eating a healthy, whole food gluten-free diet. I think it’s quite intuitive to all of us that eating “whole” foods, as nature intended, is much healthier than eating processed and refined foods. But what I found interesting was Susan’s explanation for why. Susan compared eating highly processed or refined foods to making transactions with an ATM. When we eat nutrient-poor refined foods, certain vitamins and nutrients aren’t as available to us – such as b vitamins – and so when we eat these foods, our bodies need to “withdraw” these vitamins from our body’s own “bank account balance” in order to complete the digestive and metabolic process. Well, eat enough of these types of foods and eventually your account will empty, and that’s when we feel tired and when we start to experience things like brain fog. A few other interesting tips:

  • Sprouting is the only food process that increases a food’s nutrient content. According to Susan, sprouting can increase a food’s nutrient content by 20 times! So sprout your own grains, or look for pre-sprouted grains in your health food store (bonus, these cook much faster too)
  • Follow an 80/20 rule. Eating whole foods most of the time is the healthiest way to eat. But there’s nothing wrong with having a treat – like a gluten-free muffin or brownie – once in a while. Just opt for healthier options such as snacks made with brown rice instead of white rice, and where the starches are low on the ingredient list.
  • Keep it simple. Whole foods allow us to make a single meal that the entire family can enjoy. Just as I talk about at my gluten-free seminars, the goal is to cook for everyone to enjoy, not to cook seperate meals for everyone.
  • The more nutrient dense foods you eat (especially for breakfast), the less your cravings will be. A great book that delves into this subject that I highly recommend is Michael Polan’s In Defense of Food.

And most importantly, keep a positive attitude. One of the attendees said her doctor told her to look at this as optimizing your food choices, as opposed to restricting your diet. There are so many amazing natural whole foods out there to discover, so go out there and try something new!

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