Saturday, December 27, 2008

The gluten free diet and weight loss

It's been pointed out to me recently that gluten free flours, although they do not cause harm to my innards in the way that wheat flour would, still contain significant levels of carbohydrates and calories and will NOT be helpful in the pursuit of a skinnier me. In other words, gluten free pastas and breads, etc., should not be mainstays of your diet if you want to lose weight.

And yes, I do believe that this is true, at least for people like me, who do better on low carb diets. The only time I've ever lost a significant amount of weight (80+ pounds) was on the Atkins diet, which is very low carb and hence, naturally gluten free (or at least gluten-lite). I also felt better on that diet than I ever have in my life. I was on the Atkins diet for more than 3 years, and felt very healthy the whole time. My "IBS" went away (of course, since it was really celiac disease!). Also, my cholesterol numbers were WONDERFUL on the low carb diet.

But I was forced to abandon the low-carb lifestyle under extraordinary circumstances. I became very ill in 2004 with a mysterious case of non-viral hepatitis (cryptogenic hepatitis = they don't know what caused it). During my illness I couldn't eat meat, in fact, the foods that made me feel better were things like crackers and dry toast.

Of course, this was almost certainly the beginning of my autoimmune hepatitis, but I tested negative for the antibodies so I didn't receive that official diagnosis until June of this year.

In any case, once I began to feel better, I started to gain back the weight. I made a couple of abortive attempts to go back on Atkins but my system couldn't handle the high protein low carb regimen at that made me feel really sick. So, over the past few years, I've managed to gain back the 80 pounds I lost, plus another 10 pounds for good measure!

It gets worse: after the official diagnosis of AIH, the doctor put me on prednisone and Imuran. You may not be familiar with the charming side effects of prednisone, but it can cause you to gain A LOT of weight in a very short time, especially around your face and develop the famous prednisone "moon-face". So of course I've gained another 30 pounds since last June! Eeeeeek!!

The good news is that I seem to be able to follow a low carb diet now; the usual foods I would eat on Atkins, such as beef, chicken, fish and eggs plus low carb veggies don't seem to make me sick anymore.

SO....the bottom line is that DH and I have decided to start a gluten-free version of the Atkins diet after the holidays are over. This will be good for both of us....we will be gluten free AND low carb. And hopefully we will lose some weight!

P.S. Lots of people worry that the Atkins diet is not "healthy" for you. But if you think about it this way: the low carb diet in it's purest form is all about eating foods that are not PROCESSED. So strive to eat foods that are in their natural state....meat, eggs, fish, chicken, low-carb vegetables. Avoid fruit because of the high sugar content (although berries are fairly low carb). Avoid anything processed, such as cereals, breads, crackers, etc.; avoid starchy veggies such as potatoes and corn.

There's nothing "unhealthy" about it! :)


Anne said...

Good luck with your low carb GF diet. As I mentioned before, it has worked great for me. I don't see it as a "diet" - it is the way I live.

JoAnn said...

Thanks Anne! I've been investigating the Specific Carbohydrate Diet too, because a lot of people on are reporting great results with it. But it seems a bit weird and restrictive...I'm not quite convinced yet.