A single mother of two, Christina was recently diagnosed with coeliac disease. She is currently breastfeeding and exercises daily, but is concerned that her diet doesn’t provide enough nutrients.
Prior to being diagnosed with coeliac disease, I was bloated after every meal. I suffered constant stomach aches and was constipated daily. I was also extremely lethargic and suffered from weekly mouth ulcers and fortnightly mastitis – I was really rundown. Since being diagnosed with coeliac disease and consequently going gluten-free, these symptoms have all but gone. My diet has improved too! We used to eat a lot of packet meals and pre-made sauces, rarely looking at the ingredients.
Now I find myself reading the ingredients list and preparing a lot more home-cooked meals. However, I still feel fatigued and am concerned that I may not be getting enough nutrients, even though I take a multivitamin supplement.
Thank you so much for this experience. I had a feeling that my diet might be high in sugar. I find gluten-free recipes really high in sugar, but I am in the process of looking for some sugar alternatives to include in recipes. Since receiving your review of my diet, I’ve made some simple changes: I’ve limited myself to one cupcake a week and I’ve borrowed my mum’s juicer to make fruit and veg smoothies for afternoon tea. I’m eating nuts and popcorn for snacks, drinking more water and I’ve also introduced grilled chicken into my salads. I’ve already lost 2kg, which is fantastic! I’ve been trying to lose 5kg for 12 months now and haven’t been able to. I find I have loads more energy and I’m feeling really great about myself. So once again thank you so much, you have made my life a lot healthier and happier!
A typical day in Christina’s diet
Breakfast 7.30am: 200ml V8 juice and 100ml apple and blackcurrant juice; gluten-free muesli with fresh fruit; coffee with two sugars Comments: Reduce your sugar intake by limiting your juice consumption to 125ml each day and reducing the amount of sugar added to your coffee. Also, add some LSA or psyllium husks to your muesli – this will help boost your fibre intake.
Morning tea: Homemade chocolate cupcake or a piece of fruit Comments: Make your cupcakes with a canola spread, instead of a dairy blend, to reduce your saturated fat intake.
Lunch 12.30pm: Salad with cheese, mesclun leaves, carrot, sun-dried tomatoes and cucumber or last night’s dinner leftovers Comments: Boost your zinc intake and feel full for longer by adding some lean protein to your salad – lentils, legumes, skinless chicken, fish or lean red meat are all good options. You can also boost your thiamin and fibre intake by including gluten-free grains such as corn, rice and buckwheat.
Afternoon tea: 1/4 cup Ashgrove Full Cream Milk, 100ml V8 juice Comments: Add some variety to your snacks with nuts, seeds, popcorn or gluten-free crackers with reduced-fat cheese.
Dinner 5–6pm: Quiche or zucchini lasagne with mesclun leaves or gluten-free chicken pizza Comments: Adding green leafy vegetables or legumes can help boost your folate intake, while including some lean red meat three to four times per week will help boost your iron intake.
Supper 7–7:30pm: Homemade chocolate cupcake, 100ml apple and blackcurrant juice Comment: Replace the cupcake with a small handful of Seven Mile Beach Walkabout Mix. If it’s chocolate you’re after, go for four strawberries dipped in dark chocolate or a Nestlé Double Blend Hot Chocolate (yes, it’s gluten-free!).
*Christina also drank 1.5L of water a day
This is one supermum! Christina should be applauded for her fantastic organisation, structured meals and ability to provide delicious and nutritious meals, while still managing to fit in daily exercise.
There are plenty of homemade meals in Christina’s diet, but an analysis of her 3-day food record revealed that she is not meeting her daily recommended dietary intakes for fibre, folate, iron, zinc and thiamin, and her diet is slightly higher in sugar and saturated fat than it should be. It is important for coeliacs to replace the grains currently in their diet with suitable gluten-free grains such as corn, rice, quinoa and buckwheat to ensure they are getting enough fibre and B vitamins. Including lean red meat and fish will also help to boost zinc and iron intake. These recommendations combined may help to boost Christina’s energy levels and reduce her feelings of fatigue.
Reader 2: Amber-Marie Fuller (28)
A full-time project manager and part-time student, Amber-Marie was recently diagnosed with gluten intolerance after tests for coeliac disease came back negative. She frequently suffers from GI upsets, and wants to return to her pre-wedding weight.
I regularly suffer from bloating, loose bowel movements, stomach cramps, headaches and mouth ulcers. Unfortunately, they’re such a regular occurrence that I haven’t noticed whether they happen after certain foods, but I do know that my stomach cramps get worse when I eat gluten. It’s quite frustrating, especially since I’m still mastering my skills as a cook. I would really like to gain a better understanding of gluten-free cooking and eating, and create healthier eating habits.
My aim is to also get back to my pre-wedding weight. I have read many times that keeping a food diary is one of the best ways to help with weight loss, but I have never been able to stick to it. I love food and if it tastes good, I’ll want more. I push the boundaries and eat too many foods containing gluten, which makes my symptoms worse.
When reading over my three-day food diary, I realised that I eat a lot at night. And I didn’t cook dinner once! I always look for a quick alternative before rushing to the gym after work. I also noticed the lack of fruit, vegetables and water over those three days. Thank you for making me keep that diary – it opened my eyes to the nutrients and foods that I’m missing.
A typical day in Amber-Marie’s diet
Breakfast (anytime between 9 and 11am): IsoWhey vanilla shake with Liddell’s lactose-free skim milk or poached eggs on gluten-free toast Comments: IsoWhey powder contains xylitol, which may contribute to diarrhoea. Instead, try a gluten-free muesli or breakfast cereal with added berries. Include some tomato slices with your poached eggs and a slice of gluten-free toast.
Morning tea: Tea Comments: Including a piece of fruit here will help to boost your fibre and vitamin C intake.
Lunch (anytime between 1 and 4pm): 1–2 tuna and lettuce sandwiches on gluten-free bread or convenience foods such as Red Rock Deli Honey Soy Chicken chips and soft drink Comments: Boost your fibre intake by adding more salad to your sandwich. Instead of packet chips, try a mixed-bean salad with tuna, cucumber, rocket and tomato and two rice cakes. This will also reduce your fat intake, which may help relieve your GI upsets.
Afternoon tea: Dried apricots, tea Comments: Boost your intake of fibre, folate, zinc and healthy fats by switching the apricots for a trail mix of dried fruit and nuts.
Dinner 5-6pm: Before gym – cheese and lettuce sandwich on gluten-free bread; after gym – Corn Thins with Vegemite and cheese or 3 slices gluten-free Chicken Peri-Peri pizza from [Sydney pizza chain] Crust Comments: Dinners currently lack vegies, which are a great source of the vitamins, minerals and fibre you’re missing. They’re also low in kilojoules, making them a great choice for weight loss. Aim for a dinner that includes plenty of vegetables or salad, a lean protein and a serve of carbohydrates. Prepare a big meal in advance and use the leftovers during the week to save time. When ordering pizza, replace a slice or two of pizza with a big bowl of salad instead.
Supper 7-7:30pm: Couple of Tim Tams or rice crackers with cream cheese or a banana Comments: Focusing on portion control with treats will help with weight loss. Replacing the gluten-containing Tim Tams with one gluten-free D’Lush biscuit may also help to relieve GI upsets.
*Water just in tea and coffee
Amber-Marie should be congratulated for taking an interest in healthy eating and learning to cook. With such a busy lifestyle, it’s important that she finds the time for regular meals. At present Amber-Marie eats most of her food in the evening and this eating structure can make weight loss difficult.
Eating more plant-based foods, including fruit and vegetables, will help to boost Amber-Marie’s fibre and potassium intake, which at present are lower than recommended. Her diet is also low in folate, thiamin, iron and vitamin C. Boosting her intake of these nutrients may help to reduce the occurrence of mouth ulcers, while increasing her water intake may relieve her afternoon headaches.. Amber-Marie’s diet is also very high in fat, which may be contributing to her gastrointestinal (GI) upsets. Gluten-containing foods, chilli, alcohol, caffeine and sweeteners may also be culprits. I would recommend Amber-Marie visit her local Accredited Practising Dietitian to get more specific advice about the foods she should and shouldn’t include in her diet.
How was it done?
Both Christina and Amber-Marie were asked to complete a three-day, weighed food diary, including all foods and drinks consumed. Their diary entries were then put through the analysis program FoodWorks Professional, to get a detailed nutritional analysis of their diets.