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The Low Carbohydrate Diet

This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2003 edition of Celiac.com's Journal of Gluten-Sensitivity.

Celiac.com 09/17/2014 - The traditional food pyramid of the past shows breads, pasta, rice, cereals (all high in carbohydrates) at the base of the pyramid, the ‘staple’ of the diet.  Recently, this assumption has come under attack.  Experts are telling us that a diet high in carbohydrates is bad for us (Why is it that the things we love to eat are bad for us?).

Photo: CC--daBinsiWe consume carbohydrates primarily from grains, fruits, vegetables (including ‘root’ crops such as potatoes), beer, wine, desserts, candies, most milk products (except cheese), and ‘…ose’ foods, such as sucrose, fructose, maltose, etc.  Eating an excessive amount of carbohydrates will increase total caloric intake, which may lead to obesity, heart disease and higher blood sugar levels.  Consuming too few carbohydrates may lead to an increase in our intake of fats to make up the calories (which also leads to obesity, heart disease and higher blood sugar levels), or malnutrition.

Right now, it is considered the “in” thing to be on a low carbohydrate diet.  Dr. Atkins has become a household word.  The term “fad diet” refers to a diet that will yield rapid weight loss and is like a quick fix for a particular problem.  It sells the dream that this time you WILL lose weight and your life will be better.  Most diets fail to yield the anticipated results because we set unrealistic expectations of what our bodies can do.  The claim of the low carbohydrate diet is that you should adapt this regimen as a permanent way of life, thereby preventing weight-gain in the future.

If carbohydrates are totally eliminated from your diet for a prolonged period of time, your body will become deficient in major nutrients.  Fortunately, it is nearly impossible to retain a 100% carbohydrate-free diet, because carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, legumes––nearly everywhere.

Some who follow the Atkins diet feel that it is permissible to consume large quantities of meat and eggs each day, both high in protein, and ignore their cholesterol intake.  Over a period of time, this may create other health risks.

That being said, a sensible low-carbohydrate diet has been deemed a healthy one.  Americans consume way too much starch and sugar.  Diabetics must, of necessity, restrict their sugar and carb intake; the rest of us should follow suit.  

Complex carbohydrates provide calories, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and improve your energy level.  Therefore, it is wise to replace processed carbohydrates (like bread, pasta, crackers, cereal) with complex carbs, such as the following:

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  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Cucumber
  • Grapefruit
  • Green beans
  • Green pepper
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Plums
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

The complex carbohydrates that should be limited if you are following a low- carbohydrate diet are:

  • Acorn squash
  • Baked beans
  • Butternut squash
  • Cooked dried beans
  • Corn
  • Grains
  • Hummus
  • Peas
  • Plantain
  • Popcorn
  • Potato
  • Rice
  • Sweet potato
  • Yam

So what does a low-carbohydrate diet look like?  In the sample menu below, you will notice that ‘toast’ is listed.  One slice of ‘healthy’ toast (with flaxseed or sesame seed or other form of fiber) may be beneficial, even on a low-carbohydrate diet.

Breakfast:  
1 cup sliced strawberries (sweetened with ½ teaspoon honey) with 1 cup 0.5% milk.
1 hard-boiled egg.
1 slice toast with 1 teaspoon all-fruit jelly.

Lunch:  
Salad made with ½ cup shredded lettuce, ¼ cup diced tomato, ¼ cup diced green pepper, ¼ cup diced cucumber, ½ cup broccoli florets, 3 Tablespoons water-packed tuna (drained), 1 Tablespoon GF lowfat Italian dressing.
1 cup fresh cherries for dessert.

Dinner:  
4 oz. broiled salmon topped with 1 teaspoon GF low-fat mayonnaise mixed with 1 teaspoon GF Parmesan cheese.
Sliced beets and onion salad.

Zucchini, mushrooms and red peppers sautéed in 1 teaspoon olive oil with Italian seasoning.
Juice-packed diced peaches folded into GF sugar-free orange gelatin for dessert.

A few final hints:
Limit your intake of ‘white’ processed foods, including rice, breads and pastas.  If you need a sugar rush, get it from natural sugars—eat an orange or broil half a grapefruit.

Use herbs and shredded cheeses to liven up entrees and vegetable dishes.  Read labels, not just for gluten ingredients, but for fat, sugar, sodium, and carbohydrate counts; the lower the numbers, the better it is for you.

Buy foods in their natural state, eliminating processed foods, and vary your menu.  If you prepare bland foods or foods you don’t like, you won’t stick to any diet.

Celiac.com welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).





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4 Responses:

 
Gillian
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said this on
23 Sep 2014 2:19:20 AM PDT
Some of this info is out of date, new studies exclude low fat options and promote more healthy fats for a good low carb diet.

 
Marianne
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said this on
23 Sep 2014 1:34:55 PM PDT
This diet would make me hungry all the time, good amount of protein is included, but I would also wonder the effect of this diet on triglycerides, as it is fairly high in fruit, some of it could be replaced with complex carbs.

 
Mary
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said this on
21 May 2015 7:47:54 PM PDT
Bravo, this article is right on!

 
Janine
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said this on
06 Dec 2015 3:12:26 PM PDT
Umm, what you just described IS a low carb diet!
The other is an urban myth. Even Dr Atkins says that you should eat complex carbs such as the ones in veggies. Please do your research.




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I believe the talk around this forum is that cheerios are not gluten free enough for people with celiac at this time. I don't know if anything has changed on that and when their lawyer calls me I'll quickly delete this. haha

Could be we generally say get off of dairy for a few months when going gluten free. The part of the intestines that produce the enzymes, and help break down dairy are associated with the tips of the villi, which are the most damaged if not gone in celiacs. THIS is why most of us end up with a lactose intolerance early on. And most can introduce it later after healing. As to her symptoms with it there was a bunch of research about dairy permeated the gut and causing neurological issues in a autism study I was looking at years ago. And there have been other studies about damaged intestines and how the hormones in milk can easier effect ones body. Personally I also have a huge grudge against dairy on a personal level as it is not natural to suck on a cows tits and drink the stuff, nor your dogs, nor a rabbits......I mean come on even Human Breast milk you would find odd to drink as an adult right? Back in the past dairy was a great way to get calories and fats when there was famine, etc around I mean it is meant to make a calf grow into a 500+lb cow. But on a genetic and hormonal level it is not really for human consumption and now days the whole corporate BS propaganda push and dairy farms shove that oh its healthy stuff down your throat. There are plenty of dairy free options for everything feel free to message me if you need help finding anything I have been dairy free for over a decade.

The full celiac panel checks TTG IGA and IGG, DGP IGA and IGG, IGA, EMA as Jmg stated above. Your test included TTG IGA and IGA. If your IGA was low, a low on TTG IGA would be inconclusive. But your IGA is fine. A high on any one test is a positive for celiac and should lead to an endoscopy for confirmation. So I'd get tested for TTG IGG, DGP IGA and IGG and EMA since there are symptoms. Warning I'm not a doc.

I did a gluten challenge for my endoscopy and requested a second blood test after my follow up with the consultant. I never did see those results but my GP said no celiac was indicated: Which left me gluten free for life, that wasn't an option after the challenge, but with a less satisfactory diagnosis, one by omission rather than the definitive 'you're celiac' one I was expecting. Yes! I have been 'properly' glutened on a couple of occasions but on several more I've detected a change or a reaction based on what could only have been trace amounts. NCGS is as yet poorly understood but patients tend to have more neuro symptoms than digestive. That's definitely been my experience, although it was only after going gluten free that I realised quite how many digestive symptoms I had just been living with as 'normal'. Close friends and family get the full explanation. 'I have an auto immune disease similar to 'coeliac etc.' If they stay awake long enough I'll tell them about the less than perfect testing process I went through or the Columbia Med research and the possibility of a blood test soon. They can see the difference between me on gluten and off it so they understand its not all in my head* If I'm ordering food in a restauarant or asking questions about food prep etc I will often just self declare as coeliac - people are aware of that and understand those requests are medical rather than fad diet based. I don't have any problem doing this, I'm not going to claim that and then cheat on dessert for instance and to be honest I expect once the research is complete the two conditions may wind up alongside others as different faces of the same coin. In the meantime I safeguard my health and avoid getting into a detailed conversation about genuine gluten sensitivity versus faux hipster posturing! *apart from the bits which are in my head

I originally had it on my face and scalp. (22 years ago) First biopsy with dermatologist came back as folliculitis. Then when I had a new outbreak on my upper back, she was able to remove a nice clean blister and we got the diagnosis of DH. She started me on Dapsone (100mg/day) and gluten free diet. Now I take 25-50 mg/day. My understanding at the time was that DH was the skin version of Celiac. Did a lot of research on my own. I met Dr. Peter Green at a Gluten free Vendors Fair and he said that a diagnosis of DH IS a diagnosis of Celiac, even if no other symptoms. So I stay gluten-free