One of the things both of my grandchildren know about me is that I do my very best to avoid gluten.  Even when my youngest granddaughter pretends to make me some play food, she always says to me as she is serving it, “Don’t worry nanna, it is gluten free.”

As a grandmother, I believe it is not only important that I look after myself so I can keep up with my grandkids, but that I teach them about the life changing things I have learned. That is a vital part of being a nanna – passing on the wisdom that comes with experience.

One of the most important things I have realised in the past few years is that gluten is not a good addition to anyone’s diet. If someone has coeliac disease then it is obvious that they stay away from anything and everything gluten but I did not realise just how much gluten negatively affects the “average” person.

Most people know gluten can be found in bread and other baked goods but are not aware that it is also found in almost all other processed foods and meats. People are unknowingly ingesting significantly higher amounts of this destructive protein composite than they realise and this is where gluten really starts to become an issue for everyone.

Based on my own experience, no one wants to believe that gluten is causing them health issues – I am howled down by family and friends for even suggesting that the cause of their aches and pains could be based on their diet. It seems that many find it easier to swallow the idea that, with advancing age, come expanding waistlines, joint aches and pains and foggy brains. They just want a magic pill that will allow them to continue to eat poorly yet not get sick.

Having realised long ago that the only person I can really affect is myself, I changed my diet to one that excludes as much gluten containing foods as possible, increased my protein, saturated fats and fresh vegetables and salad. As a result, am slimmer, have less aches and pains and my mind is switched on and sharp again. I wanted to lead by example and, although I had a few backslides here and there, feel empowered that I now walk the talk!

Another great reason to keep away from the dreaded g-word is that by avoiding foods containing it – such as breads, cakes, biscuits, pizza and pasta – most people find that they will drop a few kilograms because they are lowering their carbohydrate intake and eating less processed foods. Losing weight also means that there is usually less strain on joints and muscles and therefore less pain and inflammation – again, a win-win!

There is a huge amount of information available online and in book stores that supports the idea that gluten and the high amount of carbohydrates and chemicals found in processed foods are a leading cause of the overwhelming number of people marching towards dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Going gluten free is easier than you think . . . these days, there are whole aisles dedicated to gluten free products in all the major supermarket chains. But be warned; don’t swap one type of processed food for another. Try and eat unprocessed, fresh food as often as possible and teach your grandkids to do the same.

Many people argue that this healthier way of eating is too expensive – and I suppose when you consider you can get a burger, fries, a drink and a dessert from somewhere like Hungry Jack’s for around $5, it might seem the cheaper option.
But really, if you take a bit of time to prepare your meals; use protein, saturated fats like butter and coconut oil, fresh vegetables and salad, you will find that not only are the meals you make healthier, they will be more satisfying and won’t actually end up costing you more (either in dollars or your compromised health).

You may find that having a healthy whey protein shake like Synd X Protein Powder for breakfast or as a mid meal snack is the way to go . . .  it is gluten free and, by adding some fresh or frozen berries, you will find that it is not only delicious and filling but full of awesome antioxidants. You can even make low carb icecream using Synd X! The grandkids will love that (and you will know it is a truly healthy option for them).

If you want to lose some weight, I recommend replacing one or two meals a day with QuickLoss – this gluten free, vegetable oil free meal replacement will really give you a running start to getting rid of excess kilos. It is also a great idea for those who want to stop the gluten at lunchtime – no need to grab a sandwich when you can quickly mix up a QuickLoss shake (it also contains the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your metabolism pumping). You may want to grab a Guilt Free Hazelnut bar as well to keep in your bag for when you get the munchies – 0.8g nett carbs and a good dose of protein stops hunger pains in their tracks and – you guessed it, these are gluten free as well.

I urge you to take a serious look at the gluten debate and, armed with the latest facts and findings, embark on your own gluten free life. You really will be helping the generations to come by turning your health around and becoming one of the positive statistics.

I think everyone should try going gluten free for at least some period in their lives to see if they feel better, think better etc. Why not try it for six weeks or so and see how it feels? You have nothing to lose except excess weight, sore joints and a mind that wanders.

Oh, and it is great fun to rework all those family favourite recipes to gluten free, dairy free, sugar free type versions . . . it’s almost like going back to school yourself!

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