There was a great amount of interest in this topic for a blog, and I have to say that makes me a happy dietitian. The closer each of us can be to following the recommendations provided in the Australian Dietary Guidelines (hereinafter referred to ‘The Guidelines’), the greater amount of nutrients we’ll have access to and this should reflect in our overall Wellness.
In today’s blog we’ll just look a brief intro to The Guidelines as it’s an enormous topic that I intend to break down into smaller blogs along the way. In one of our posts this week someone asked “How do we count the nutrients we’re eating?” In a nutshell, the way we do that is by aiming to meet the recommended serves in each of the five food groups to provide us with those precious nutrients. That’s precisely what the Australian Dietary Guidelines was designed to do!
Let’s get started
The latest version of The Guidelines was released only last year and provides scientific evidence (comprising more than 1100 references) for makes up healthy Australian diets. They’re aimed at the general population and remind us that “diet is arguably the single most important behavioural risk factor that can be improved to have a significant impact on health”.
There are 5 overall guidelines . I won’t be covering those in today’s blog because it’s not the focus but I do encourage you to read them.
From a Be Well Gluten Free perspective, I really wanted to focus on the The Five Groups as if you can enjoy a variety of nutritious foods from these groups it should reflect in your overall wellness.
As recently highlighted in a post in our group by APD Zoe Nicholson, “Most food is naturally GF and even within the top 10 grains humans consume, all are GF except for wheat which makes gluten a tiny tiny part of what humans actually consume.”
Only one of The Five Food Groups contains gluten – the Grains (cereal) foods group. This means that the other groups should be relatively easy to meet. If you’re on a low-FODMAP diet then you may need more assistance with the other groups too, but if we’re just thinking about avoiding gluten it’s only the Grains (cereals) group that we need to pay extra attention to.
And if you further break that down to look at which grains (cereals) are included in that group they are mostly made from wheat, oats, rice, rye, barley, millet, quinoa and corn. Obviously 4 of those listed contain gluten (wheat, oats, rye and barley) and the other 4 don’t but in fact we can also add buckwheat, sorghum and amaranth to this list, and potentially more.
So to meet your 3-6 serves of grain (cereal) foods per day (depending on your age and gender) it’s isn’t too hard to do the counting. Here are some ideas to help you meet them.
You might include 1-2 serves in your breakfast meal. That might be a couple of pieces of grainy/seeded or low-GI toast with some protein to keep your hunger satisfied through to lunchtime to provide you 2 serves, or a high-fibre, preferably low-GI cereal such as :
2 x GF Weetbix biscuits (30g). There are also beneficial as they contain added vitamins and iron. You can have 1 serve of 2 in a bowl, or 2 serves with 4 in a bowl with lots of milk to help lower the GI even further.
You could have a 60g serve of Freedom Foods Active Balance to provide you 2 serves.
A fruit smoothie with a GF weetbix thrown in will only provide half a serve, so you could have one for afternoon tea too to boost it up to one serve.
Lunch is a good time to tick a couple of grain serves off your list.
If you’re including a sandwich (preferably made with low-GI GF bread) then you’ve got 2 serves right there.
If you’re not having sandwiches then other easy options are including grains such as quinoa, brown Basmati rice, GF pasta or buckwheat in salads, soups and casseroles.
Of course, left-overs from yesterday’s main meal will often be a good lunch idea.
If you’re short in reaching your daily target then building grains into a snack is a good way of making it up. You could go that other fruit smoothie to add half a serve from earlier, or a piece of toast with peanut butter on it works well too.
You’re better off avoiding the GF crackers, rice crackers and rice/corn thins due to their high glycemic index. The old bowl of cereal trick as a snack also works well here.
Whether you have your main meal at lunch or in the evening, if you’re still low in consuming your grain serves some good options are:
A low-GI pasta dish – My two favourite types of GF pasta right now are Barilla (just like wheat pasta with a reasonable GI of 60) and Coles Simply GF pasta which has a low GI. One serve is only half a cup of cooked pasta so you won’t need much to top up your numbers.
Of course rice works well with curries and stir fries, and quinoa for salads and as a side dish. Again we’re talking half a cup of cooked rice or quinoa equals a serve.
Lots more to come
I hope you’ve found this blog helpful. As mentioned earlier there are lots of topics that I intend to cover here, and I have your helpful suggestions made earlier.
I will finish here with a reminder to please speak to your own Accredited Practising Dietitian for a personalised consultation to know what’s right for you based on your medical conditions. Please don’t make changes to your own diet before doing that as this is population level advice not aimed at individuals.
Good on you for taking the effort to Be Well Gluten Free!
Sally is the owner of her private practice, Marchini Nutrition , has had type 1 diabetes for close to 40 years and coeliac disease for many years too. She is also Social Media Dietitian with Diabetes Counselling Online , and the dietitian on The Moon and You App .