Those who have gluten intolerance or worse, celiac disease, have worked hard to make sure that their diets are free of wheat, rye, and barley. This is because these grains can wreak havoc on their systems. For some, this can be digestion distress while for others, it can cause debilitating health problems. And while removing these grains ensures that the inflammation in the body stays at a minimum, it also means that there can be vitamins and minerals missing from the diet if not careful. It is something that is at the forefront of expecting women’s minds when making sure they get the nutrition they need during pregnancy while eating gluten-free.
Gluten intolerances and celiac disease have become more frequent as of late. According to New Food Magazine, the school of thought as to why this has occurred is that there are now more “immunoreactive proteins” in wheat and other grains than there were decades ago. As such, more systems have a big reaction to these foods that were once the staple of American diets. And as a result, people become sick when they eat any significant amount of gluten.
Here is how to get the nutrition you need during pregnancy when eating gluten-free.
Why A Gluten-Free Diet Is Followed
While some choose to eat gluten-free as a lifestyle choice, there are those who cannot eat or even touch gluten-filled foods for fear of becoming ill. And this is because gluten triggered an autoimmune response in the system.
According to MedlinePlus, the reasons that people follow a gluten-free diet vary. Some of those reasons include:
- Celiac disease: Immune response is triggered that causes damage to the GI tract.
- Gluten sensitivity: Same symptoms present as celiac disease, but there is no damage to the internal system.
- Gluten intolerance: Reactions to gluten that cause problems with digestion, bloating, nausea, and more.
What is interesting about intolerances, according to the Vegan & Raw Food Blog is that sensitivities and intolerances change during pregnancy. As such, the reactions that women were having to gluten before expecting may disappear for nine months. Conversely, they could become significantly worse as well.
As such, remaining on a gluten-free diet is recommended, when women do not know what side of the gluten reaction coin they will fall on.
Safety Of Eating Gluten-Free During Pregnancy
For those who are concerned that eating gluten-free while expecting is harmful to mothers-to-be or their babies, there is nothing to fear. No harm will come to either when gluten is taken out of the diet. But it may mean that extra care is taken to ensure that the proper vitamins and minerals are consumed over the course of pregnancy in conjunction with a prenatal vitamin.
According to Gluten-Free Living, there are ways to get the nutrition needed when eating gluten-free and pregnant. Those ways include:
- Carbohydrates: With carbohydrates being an important part of the diet during pregnancy, fruits and vegetables can provide healthy carbohydrates to fuel the body.
- Protein: Given that protein is naturally gluten-free, things such as chicken, beef, low mercury fish, and more can and should be enjoyed for proper nutrition.
- Folate and fiber: Many people get their folate and fiber from grain sources. And while this is the most conventional way, eating foods like asparagus, kale, avocado, oranges, and more can provide good amounts of folate in the diet.
And because fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, they, versus gluten-filled bread can be enjoyed to get the daily allowance of fiber necessary.
- healthy fats: Omega-3 and monosaturated fats are necessary for the development of babies. These fats can be eaten with foods such as eggs, salmon, avocado, and more.
Women should stay away from saturated and trans fats while expecting because not only do they not add nutrition to the diet, they are unhealthy to those who eat them, according to Healthline.
There are plenty of sources of nutrition that will provide the proper nutrition during pregnancy. But of course, if there are any questions or concerns about what to eat, a healthcare provider or nutritionist should be consulted while expecting.
What To Avoid When Deciding To Go Gluten-Free
Many women who have eaten gluten-free for some time likely know what it is that they should not be eating to ensure that their body does not experience gluten-related illnesses. But there are some who may have just begun a gluten-free lifestyle before becoming pregnant that may still be sorting through what is and is not gluten.
According to What To Expectthe foods that should be avoided during pregnancy that include gluten include:
- Any flour not labeled gluten-free
- Bread products that are not labeled gluten-free
- Bouillon cubes
- Frozen meals
- Imitation fish
- Shelf-stable salad dressing
- Canned soup (unless it’s labeled ‘gluten-free’)
- Seasoned chips
Even if products should be gluten-free, if it states on their packaging that they were produced in a facility where wheat or gluten products were produced, those products should be avoided. It goes without saying that products specifically labeled “gluten-free” are okay to consume.
Remember that some products may seem like they’re gluten-free but in reality, certain “natural flavors” are not gluten-free.
Watching Out For Excess Processed Foods
While there are times that cravings may hit during pregnancy, processed foods should not be the foundation of the diet.
According to The Healthsite.comprocessed foods can lead to things such as:
- Weight gain
- In the case of processed meats, there is a risk of food poisoning.
As such, when choosing boxed, gluten-free foods while expecting, choose them sparingly. There is nothing wrong with indulging every once in a while, but whole food should be chosen the majority of the time when possible.
Source: New Food Magazine, MedlinePlus, Vegan & Raw Food Blog, Healthline, Gluten-Free Living, What To Expect, The Healthsite.com
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