Getting enough fibre when you've eliminated gluten from your diet can be hard. Dietitian Lana Hirth shows you clever ways to meet your target.
For the one in 70 Aussies who have coeliac disease, removing gluten isa proven necessity, not a choice. Others choose to eat less bread and wheat-based foods (and therefore less gluten) to help ease digestive discomfort.
But while many people cut out gluten to improve their health, a gluten-free diet isn’t always a healthy option. It means you have to remove wheat, barley, rye and oats — so your diet can be lacking in fibre, iron and B vitamins.
Importantly, the gluten-free flours that make gluten-free bread, pasta and baked goods can be highly refined and low in fibre, with a high glycaemix index. These flours also lack real texture and taste, so some gluten-free products are loaded with sugar and fat to compensate.
Did you know?
Women should aim for 25g fibre each day & men need 30g
How important is fibre?
Fibre is your gut’s best friend. Not only does it help keep you regular, it can protect against bowel cancer, lower your blood cholesterol and improve blood sugar control. The best benefits come from eating a wide range of high-fibre foods, including the following fibre types:
This acts like a sponge by absorbing liquid and helping ease bowel movements.
Good sources: fruit, vegetables, legumes
This fibre acts as a ‘bulking agent’, sweeping through your colon like a broom to help reduce constipation.
Good sources: nuts and seeds, leafy greens, fruit and vegetable skins
This supplies you with healthy gut bacteria that helps promote good digestion.
Good sources: under-ripe bananas, lentils, cooked and cooled potatoes
Which whole grains are gluten free?
You don’t have to miss out on healthy fibre if you’re not eating wheat, rye, barley and oats. Try these gluten-free whole grains:
Brown rice is an easy, gluten-free way to boost your fibre intake, delivering a slightly nutty taste.
Amaranth has a slightly peppery taste. It’s great in soups and stews, or you can ‘pop’ it like corn and use it in muesli bars.
Buckwheat, which is not wheat as its name might suggest, makes a great stuffing for red capsicums. Buckwheat flour has up to 10 times the fibre of gluten-free flour.
Millet has a very mild flavour. It can be boiled whole and used like rice, or enjoy it as filling ‘porridge’ topped with cinnamon, shredded coconut and banana.
Quinoa is a crunchy nutty seed. It takes just 15 minutes to cook, using a ratio of 1 cup of quinoa to2 cups of water. It’s also available as porridge flakes for gluten-free winter breakfasts.
Teff is the smallest of grains, with a slightly ‘earthy’ flavour. You can use cooked teff in soups or as an alternative to polenta.
How much fibre do I need?
Women should aim for 25g of fibre each day and men need 30g. More than half of Australians don’t eat enough fibre — and following a gluten-free diet can make it even harder. Follow these five tips to boost your fibre if you have coeliac disease — or if you’d just like to boost your fibre levels in general.
1 Leave on fruit and vegie skins so that you don’t lose ‘insoluble’ fibre — plus it saves time!
2 Sprinkle chia, sunflower or pumpkin seeds on top of gluten-free cereal or yoghurt.
3 Add chickpeas, lentils or beans to salads, soups and casseroles.
4 Swap white rice for brown, and choose more wholegrain foods.
5 Snack on a handful of nuts and seeds between meals.
Your high-fibre, gluten-free day on a plate
. Homemade baked beans on a slice of gluten-free toast
. Omelette with zucchini, mushroom and tomato, and a slice of gluten-free toast
. Roasted vegetable salad with chickpeas and avocado
. Steamed fish with brown rice and mixed vegies
. 1 Packham pear, skin on
. 30g unsalted mixed nuts
. Plain yoghurt topped with1 tablespoon of LSA (linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds)