“You’ve started a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, and you’re feeling pretty zippy. Household purchases of tissues for allergy symptoms are down, and household purchases of toilet paper for gastrointestinal regularity are up. The kids no longer complain of tummy aches and itchy rashes. Your energy level feels amazing. As long as Enjoy Life® chocolate chips and Rice Dream® are around, what is there not to love about eating this way? Why doesn’t every doctor prescribe a gluten-free, dairy-free diet? You just can’t understand it!
Enter nutrient deficiencies. Wheat products and dairy products, despite being pesky foods for the body to digest, pack huge nutrient punches. They are even vehicles for specifically added nutrients which are deficient in our diets, such as folic acid in bread and vitamin D in milk. Doctors know that an improperly implemented gluten-free, dairy-free diet is a set-up for nutritional disaster. They have nightmares of vitamin D-deficient women with broken hips and spina bifida-afflicted newborns from folic acid deficiency. Gluten-free, dairy-free diets make them cringe inside.
A poorly thought-out gluten- and dairy-free diet that relies on processed gimmick products can lead to nutritional deficits—sometimes causing problems much worse than those originally set out to be cured. None of us want that, particularly for vulnerable children. In addition, going gluten-free before an appropriate celiac disease work-up really complicates matters because celiacs should not have a speck of gluten. Please make sure to talk to your doctor about changes in your family’s diet and don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to a nutritionist to help you. This article is not intended to be medical advice but instead to raise awareness. So what are the most common deficiencies when gluten and dairy are cut out and how can they be addressed?
CALCIUM: Dairy is hands-down the easiest way to meet calcium requirements, and calcium is necessary for all of your cells to function. Although it is absolutely possible to obtain the recommended calcium intake without dairy products, it requires exceptional diligence and a willing palate. Good food sources of calcium besides dairy include kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, peas, dried figs, and bone-in canned salmon and sardines. When we eliminated dairy two and a half years ago, my kids ate just about none of those foods. Now, they will eat bites of every single one. However, it takes about three cups of cooked kale or one can of sardines to equal the 300 mg of calcium in a glass of milk or cup of yogurt—and that’s not even enough calcium for one day. My kids are good, but they aren’t that good! I work very hard to serve calcium-rich, natural foods daily, but I also choose to supplement with calcium fortified non-dairy milk and a calcium supplement. If you use a non-dairy milk (such as almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk), be sure to shake it well because the calcium often sinks to the bottom…” (Molly Green Magazine)
If you’re on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet, you need to outsmart it so you can be tip-top healthy. Can you guess the other nutrients besides calcium that you’d miss out on if you eliminate gluten and dairy? Can ya’? What do you think they are? What non-processed foods (and yes, I do consider rice milk and gluten-free English muffins to be processed) do you think you can use to bolster them? Find out by clicking over to Molly Green On-Line where I write for the wonderful price of free. If your fingers are broken and you can’t–or you’re just tired of being jacked around all the time by internet personalities–then take a stab in the comments, and I’m happy to share what I know in conversations there. It won’t be laid out so nicely with great, amazing graphics, but it’ll get you the information. And THAT–is what I care about!
Seriously, ask away. I just want you to have the information. Not dogma. Not a one-sided view. Not entrenched, inflexible opinion. Information, pure and simple (although often quite complex 🙂 ). And I don’t care if you get it here, in Molly Green, or anywhere else, as long as its accurate. You never learn if you don’t ask questions. You never learn if you think you know the answers already.
Enjoy your weekend!