blood sugar

Gluten-Free: Just because we can, doesn't mean we should


Many patients seek out my services for my "life-saving" meal plans after they receive news that they are sensitive to half the foods they eat on a regular basis. Gluten/wheat is almost always positive on these food sensitivity tests. Can you imagine your life without bread, pasta, crackers or tortillas? What would you eat instead of these gluten-containing foods?

A conversation I have often with patients, 21-Day Sugar Detox participants, peers, colleagues and family is that just because gluten-free "food" products are conveniently available doesn't mean we need to make them a regular part of our eating patterns.

Have you ever looked up "paleo recipes" on Pinterest before? Try it. You'll likely find tons of dessert recipes such as: fast food remakes, candy remakes, brownies, coffee cakes, cookies, etc. Don't get me wrong, some of these recipes can come in very handy if you're trying to make a "less-bad" dessert for a birthday or special occasion. The point I'm trying to make is that these foods still have sugar (even though it may be coming from honey, maple syrup, dates, or other fruits). Almond flour and tapioca starch can be great flour substitutes when making "paleo" treats, however we still don't want to overdo it with excessive PUFAs (read: fats more prone to oxidation when exposed to heat/light/air) found in almonds or the pure glucose (read: blood-sugar spikes) found in tapioca starch. Balance is key and only you can determine what that balance is.

This morning while I was making some carrot gingerbread muffins from the Practical Paleo cookbook (written by Diane Sanfilippo, author of the 21DSD program and cookbooks), I was thinking about how I hadn't made muffins in a few months. A few weeks ago I bought a gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread, but I didn't even finish the whole thing before it went bad. I'm mentioning this because I too take part in "gluten-free" sweets/treats on occasion; however with much less regularity than one may think.

Carrot Gingerbread muffins from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo

Carrot Gingerbread muffins from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo

Common symptoms you may be having if you're riding the blood sugar roller coaster:

  • Feeling hangry
  • Irritability
  • Cravings (especially sugar)
  • Regular acne
  • Fatigue (especially in afternoon)
  • Shakiness/Dizziness

If you experience some/all of these symptoms regularly, consider joining my next 21-Day Sugar Detox group. In my groups, we support you through the process of resetting your taste buds and eliminating sugar and carb cravings.

So next time you are eating out at a restaurant and they provide gluten-free pasta or offer to use gluten-free bread, show your appreciation for their consideration but know that it's still okay to get a more blood-sugar balancing entree or using a lettuce-wrap instead.

The Bahá’í Fast

Historically, every religion and culture has participated in some kind of ritual Fast. A fast is an intentional restriction of food for a certain period of time. In many religions, the purpose of the fast is to practice detachment in a physical way that they may bring more awareness to the life of the spirit. Many are familiar with Lent, a type of Christian fast currently being observed, often where some type of food or behavior is restricted. Ramadan is the Islamic fast, which is performed for 29-30 days. In the Jewish faith, the primary fast day is Ta'anit (Day of Atonement) observed on Yom Kippur. In the Bahá’í Faith, we fast for 19 days, ending before Naw-Ruz (New Year occurring at the beginning of spring). Like Ramadan, Bahá’ís wake up to eat before sunrise and break the fast at sunset.

For more information on what Bahá’ís believe, see this link.

Though initially religious in nature, a recent health trend has been to perform intermittent fasts. You can read more about those here. These are great to do once a week to keep your metabolism, immunity, focus, and energy in check.

What is the Bahá'í fast?

Fasting is “essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires.”
- The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Baha'u'llah

The Baha'i Fast begins this year on March 1st. Read on for some tips to help you with your fast. These tips can also be applicable to other religious fasts as well.

We want to always remember the purpose of the fast and to avoid getting "hangry". It's okay to feel hungry during the Fast. You will and should feel hungry. This is the reason it's a practice of detachment, self-discipline, selflessness and patience. Hunger is a great reminder for us to center ourselves and recall the Word of God. However, we can utilize what we've learned about how food affects our body to maximize our body's ability to handle hunger.

How to prevent getting "Hangry"

  To optimize energy metabolism I recommend going to sleep by 10 pm. It may seem early, but it will help prevent food cravings and your body will utilize energy better the next day.

For dinner, add 1/2 cup of starchy vegetables (like carrots, sweet potato, or squash) to your meals since a little more carbohydrate at night should help you sleep better.

Drinking bone broth is also very nourishing and supportive during the fast. This broth provides vitamins, minerals, and digestion-supporting collagen that will keep you well-nourished during a time of food restriction. The amino acid glycine will promote good quality sleep if sipped at night. I recommend drinking at least 1 cup in the morning and evening each. You can find my recipe here.

For more specific tips on how to nourish your body physically during the Baha'i Fast, sign up below to my email list and I will send you a PDF file of more of my fasting tips.

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