Low Carb, It’s the New Gluten free Diet for Celiac in our Family

Learn how to eat low carb gluten free diet.

low carb food pyramid for gluten free diet

Don’t know what a low carb gluten free diet is? Well, it’s a gluten free diet that also limits processed gluten free products too. Things made from potato starch, rice flour, refined and organic cane sugars, agave syrup, and most prepackaged gluten free products (noodles, breads, pie crusts, cookies, crackers, and chips) are all considered high in carbs. We are going to limit or avoid them this year.  You are probably thinking, so who on earth would think it’s good to put their skinny little kids on a low carb gluten free diet?

Well, besides me, there are surprisingly a number of people. The media makes it seem like low carb dieting is just a weight loss fad. But in reality, this eating lifestyle has been successfully adopted by many folks with various autoimmune disorders as a way to manage or eliminate symptoms.

We have Switched our Family to a Low Carb Gluten Free Diet

Actually, low carb dieting for weight loss has been around for decades. I can remember co-workers doing the Atkins diet in the mid 90s when I was in my early 20s. My whole life I have been on the thin side, though. Now that I’m about 40, and have recently had my 4th baby, I am still only about 15-20 pounds more than I was when I got married 13 years ago. I’ve never thought about doing a low carb diet for weight loss, myself.  But when my oldest son developed serious digestive problems and neurological symptoms in 2006, I was introduced to another kind of low carb diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. My family has never done the SCD diet in it’s entirety. We have used quite a few if its recipes over the years in our gluten and corn free recipes. We’ve always mixed in a bag or two of sugar during birthdays and holidays. Then after our oldest son recovered we began to let more high sugar gluten free foods creep into our regular gluten free diet.

So why would I put my entire family on a low carb gluten free diet?

Honestly, I think it’s because I’m starting to think that the gluten free diet doesn’t work as great as doctors, food manufacturers, and so called ‘gluten free experts’ claim it does. Three years after diagnosis, when his blood work came back perfect, I decided to allow my oldest to have more packaged gluten free foods. After over a year I am not happy with the results. And I’m worried about GMO corn and soy in popular brands of gluten free processed foods. I’m starting to rethink that old low carb diet as a lifestyle diet instead of a healing the gut diet. It is becoming more and more obvious to me that the gluten free diet doesn’t do the trick in and of itself.

Low Carb Food Pyramid
Laura Dolson’s Low Carb Pyramid

I have a couple friends who practice the Paleo diet, and have met many who follow the SCD diet. A couple years ago I was interviewed by Doug Kaufmann’s Know the Cause television show. He has a diet plan that cuts out white carbs and sugars, and each year for Lent we have strictly followed that low carb diet for about 3 years. This past winter it has been a real struggle to get our third child to limit his junk food intake, especially when he’s not home. I’ve noticed that when his sugar intake rises he starts to develop digestive symptoms. We had him tested for celiac sprue last summer and his blood work came back in the normal range. This is what has prompted me to cut out the sugar more permanently in our house. Commercial products in the gluten free diet are laden with sugars and starches. The boy keeps having issues with candida. It has become apparently obvious to me that being on a gluten free diet is not a cure all. It’s not even close. Gluten is toxic to a celiac. But there is one interesting fact that doctors and specialists are missing. So are the sugars! I have a boy with the celiac gene (who has tested negative for celiac) on a quasi gluten free diet (we don’t prepare foods with gluten in them in our house, but believe me, he knows how to find it when he travels). And that boy is not well on sugar. I can see what it does to his stool. So this is how I came to the decision to do a low carb gluten free diet.

All Low Carb Diets Avoid Sugar, but the Gluten Free Diet Does Not

The casual dieter, if they look at all of the above mentioned diet plans: Paleo diet, SCD diet, low carb diet, and Doug Kaufmann’s diet, they will see one common denominator. They all cut out the refined sugars, corn sugars, and the complex carbs. Some cut the dairy, some cut the nuts, some add probiotics, but all of them balance blood sugar levels.

My oldest child officially started the gluten free diet when he was 4 years old. Since then we’ve had the entire family genetically tested and both myself and my third child also carry the HLA-DQ2 gene (associated with both celiac disease and type one diabetes). So in our house gluten free is a package deal. I’ve been aware of the gluten free food industry’s recent surge in popularity, and while many of my gluten free colleagues praise this trend I am secretly cringing inside myself. I suppose I march to a different drummer. Maybe I’m waxing philosophic about cookies and I need to get off my soapbox. But–

I’m tired of following gluten-free media geared solely toward marketing unhealthy products to People on a gluten free diet

I know I’m not making any friends when I write this. But there. It’s said. It’s out there and although I desperately want to delete it and take it back for fear of repercussions I will not. Just like poor Horton who sat on that egg on top of that tree all the way to sunny Palm Beach, Florida I plan to sit on my controversial statement. If I’m lucky, and I hold on to my sagging branch hard enough I might find a few like minded consumers. I say consumers but what I really mean is health conscious people who are sick of being marketed as gluten free diet consumers. We are not just gluten free consumers. We are people with a medical condition that can easily be cured or controlled by healthy food. Why do doctors and manufacturers want to sell us merchandise that isn’t going to help in that process? I honestly met a very prestigious celiac specialist two years ago that promoted McDonald’s french fries for a parent of a celiac child. Really? Are you kidding me? How about green beans instead? I mean, whether or not they are gluten free shouldn’t matter. A kid with sprue does not need to be filling up on chemical laden complex carb products fried in oil. Period. End of story.

I for one am tired of trying to make gluten free foods that look and taste like the junk food that everybody else is eating. It is a lot of work, costs more than double the money, and at the end of the day, it isn’t healthier or better for me or my family. And like any other larger, middle class family in America, we are watching our money this year. I just can’t afford to buy all that gluten free specialty food for over double the price of what everyone else is paying. This is especially true for items with no less sugar than the processed corn syrup laden junk in aisle 12. My kids deserve better. So we have started our low carb gluten free journey this year in search of a better way.

Our Kids’ First Impressions on Livin-La-Vida-Low-Carb Were Encouraging

So here we are. It’s 2012, and sugar has been kicked out of our house again. I would love to say it’s for good, but the stuff is like a stray dog sitting on the front porch. Everyone loves it, feels bad for it, and when offered to keep it doesn’t have the willpower to say no.

So how crazy am I to think that my kids would prefer eating a lot of [gasp] vegetables over a bunch of cookies, crackers, breakfast bars, and sweets (ahem, albeit gluten free and all natural as they are)?

To the curious onlooker I can only respond by shaking my head yes. Yes, you are right, it is not easy to get kids to eat their vegetables when there is ample prepackaged sugar laden diet foods lying around the house. But when it is gone, really gone, you’d be surprised what they surf the fridge for. The kids have already given their high protein breakfasts a big thumbs up. My boys have all agreed it keeps them from being hungry before lunchtime at school.

I really believe that true healing requires a low carb gluten free diet. I don’t even propose to value one over the others. I think a person’s own nutritional and health needs should dictate which plan is the best fit. In our house we have developed our own mixed bag low carb gluten free diet. I have recipes from all of these diet plans that I use. What I post here may or may not subscribe to any one of the above low carb diet plans. Take that into consideration. I will post Nutrition Facts on all our low carb recipes. Read them and decide for yourself if that recipe is for you.

At dinner time I have removed the starchy rice and potatoes from the menu (for now) and have added extra servings of vegetables. This is more of a struggle. But thankfully bribery will get me somewhere when used correctly. I will update our low carb gluten free diet progress at the end of the year. If you are in the same boat, feel free to join the conversation.

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6 Comments on Low Carb, It’s the New Gluten free Diet for Celiac in our Family

  1. Bravo! I discovered very quickly my health was much better off all sugars and processed GF foods. Now following a low carb, Paleo diet and thriving. Will write more when I get to my computer.

  2. Congratulations for having the guts to say it like it is and congrats for prioritizing you and your family’s health. I am also sick and tired of seeing all the various GF blogs, magazines, etc. posting gf recipes that are mostly filled with tons of sugar and carbs. I cringe and it makes me think that a lot of celiacs will be trading in one disease for another…diabetes II. Having Celiac is a blessing and a curse. It’s a curse for the obvious reasons, but I also see it as a blessing because I have learned so much about how food affects my body and how I feel, and I have used this knolwedge to eat VERY healthy. I am very low carb with no sugar, no dairy, no yeast and no eggs besides the gluten. Sugar contibuted to severe anxiety and depression probably due to wild blood sugar swings, and the little bit of sweet ain’t worth the mental anguish later. I also have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), so carbs and my gut are not a good match.

    I also agree with you re. the medical position that tells people to eat GF without any advice on eating healthfully. Having Celiac is serious and causes major gut issues. Healing the gut takes time and eating highly inflammatory, sugary, processed GF junk food is not the way to go. I could care less that General Mills has the highest percentage of gluten-free processed foods on the market. They won’t see a dime from me. It’s all crap. A whole foods diet that does not include ANY grains, is the best fit for me. It’s sad to see the GF diet turn into a GF ‘SAD’ diet. I wish people would use their diagnosis to improve their health and take it to the next level instead of using junky GF replacements. P.S. that Dr who recommended the McDonald’s fries is an idiot not only because he was recommending junk foods, but also because their fries aren’t GF.

  3. Bravo! I LOVE it, Caryn. Somehow I missed this post. I am so glad I saw the “corn contains gluten” post this morning and left my comment and now to learn we are in pretty much the same boat. It is encouraging to me to find another mom making tough but the best choices for her kids. (Congrats on the 4th!) I would love to keep in touch and share in the journey. Great job!

  4. I’m, so glad you posted this. I became gluten free several years ago and after the initial relief I found that eating too much gluten free ‘junk food’ wasn’t helping either. I particularly noticed this after attending a gluten free sampling day. I went off all grains after reading an article on Mercola’s website. Then I found Fiber Menace by Konstantin Monastyrski (sp). I followed a regimen to heal my gut gleaned from his book. In the book he cautions on feeding kids too much fiber. If the kids don’t like their vegetables there is often too much fiber for them. They can get intestinal blockage that way.

    I eat plenty of lower fiber vegetables and some fruit along with my grass fed meat and eggs now. Once the gut heals then one doesn’t need the fiber to prevent constipation. The good gut bacteria takes care of that automatically. I’m currently slowly adding back a little rice in the form of rice congee (a little rice in 5-6 times the water cooked for several hours). According to Chinese nutrition rice provides moisture to the intestines and body tissues. I want to keep it as low carb as possible and that’s why the rice congee and not every day. (Still experimenting with this.)

  5. Thanks Terry!
    Which veggies are low fiber? We’ve been doing grass fed beef for a while. I’ve always done a lot of eggs but now I’m relying on them quite a bit. I checked out Debbie Ross’s recipes and I think I’ll have to try her egg free carrot cake muffins. I’m trying to find things I can make and pack in their lunches for school besides raw carrots, lunch meat, or a boiled egg. Kind of hard to take when they also get eggs for breakfast too. We are doing high probiotics from Kirkman labs, too. I have a yogurt maker. I can make goat yogurt. My little guy doesn’t digest milk well and hasn’t had milk in over a year. Middle boy doesn’t have digestive issues or celiac gene so he still drinks regular milk (organic).

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I really appreciate the camaraderie. This is the hardest decision I’ve had to make so far in the process of healing the kids and myself and getting back to digestive normalcy. Being on the fringe is a lonely place. Glad to have any company at all. I’m already getting some ‘I want a bowl of cereal’ flack before bedtime around here 🙁

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