This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2002 edition of Celiac.com's Journal of Gluten-Sensitivity.

Celiac.com 11/08/2011 - Are you a bit overweight?  If you wear the same two outfits all the time because nothing else in your closet fits, you may be a prime candidate for a “Low Calorie” Gluten-free regimen.

Photo: CC - Ed YourdonThe key to any weight reduction program is to concentrate on eating healthy instead of counting calories.  The more you concentrate on reducing your intake of fats, cholesterol and sugar, the more weight you will ultimately lose.  Beware of “fat free” foods; they often contain large amounts of salt and/or sugar.  Below are some hints to help you stick to a sensible diet:
  • Eat what you like (within reason)…just eat smaller portions and prepare it with fewer calories.  You won’t stick to your new program if you are forced to eat foods you don’t like.  (Use some common sense with this step.  Eating smaller portions does not refer to smaller portions of butter-whipped potatoes and chocolate cream pie!)
  • Forget the grapefruit diet!  There is no need to starve yourself or go on crash diets.  Food group elimination diets may deprive your body of necessary vitamins and minerals and affect your health after a period of time, and usually you will put the weight right back on when you start to eat “normally” again.  It is far better to lose the weight with a sensible, well-rounded diet, over a period of time.  Eat as many different foods as possible to assure that you are getting a full range of nutrients.
  • Train yourself to sit and enjoy your meal, preferably taking at least 20 minutes to relax over your meal.  Never eat at the counter standing up; never walk out the door holding a sandwich or snack in your hand; and, when you clear the dishes from the table, NEVER finish up what someone else has left on their dish.  Remember…what you eat in private shows in public!
  • Serve meals attractively; garnish your plates.  A pretty plate presentation will make even plain foods look appetizing.
  • Before eating something, ask yourself, Are you really hungry or are you just bored?  If you are just bored try chewing a piece of gluten-free sugarless gum and take a walk around the block.
  • Don’t skip meals.  Skipped meals often lead to an out-of-control appetite before your next mealtime, and may wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels.
  • If you get really hungry between meals, snack on healthy, low calorie snacks (carrot sticks, plain popcorn, or some raisins).
  • Skip the “extras”:  Don’t put butter on your bread; butter doesn’t fill you—it just adds calories and fat.  Eliminate sugar in your cereal, coffee or tea.  If you are eating French fries (oven-baked instead of deep fried), skip the ketchup.  Put away the steak sauce and tartar sauce; when the gravy boat is passed to you pass it on to someone else (who’s not on a diet!).  Cutting out the “extras” will significantly reduce your total caloric intake.
  • Eat foods with adequate starch and fiber.  Your body needs these so be sure to eat three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit each day to keep you healthy inside.  Do not confuse natural starch (potatoes, corn, brown rice) with processed starch (pasta, breads).  Natural starch is healthier for you and provides your body with energy.  Processed starch will slowly convert to sugar in your system, and allow it to absorb more sugar—and no one needs this!
The key to better health is to maintain a healthy, reduced calorie diet that includes the least possible amount of processed foods.  Instead of the apple pie, eat just the apple!

Beware of focusing only on eating “fat free” foods.  Shrimp has very little fat or calories, but it is higher in bad cholesterol than many other foods.  A “fat free” dinner may have excessive amounts of sugar which can be just as bad for your diet as fats.   A “fat free” dinner may have excessive amounts of salt, which can also be unhealthy.

Beware of focusing only on your total caloric intake.  If you just count calories, you could eat several pieces of candy per day but would have to avoid all other foods.  Obviously the candy will not give your body the nutrients it needs, even though you are within your calorie limitations.  While caloric intake is a consideration, other factors are equally important, such as getting the proper vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.

We hear a lot about fats in the diet. Polyunsaturated oils lower your total blood cholesterol level, while monounsaturated oils (such as olive oil) lower