Meat, Fish and Plant Based Protein

Strategy Tip

If you buy your meat and fish fresh and cook it from scratch you don’t need to worry about hidden gluten


And it’s okay to eat from animals raised on gluten containing grains because the gluten does not pass through to the final product.  Where you need to be careful is processed and prepared products.  Hamburger patties, meatballs and sausages often contain bread crumbs as filler but gluten free versions are becoming available.  Processed deli foods can contain gluten as well.

Know where it comes from and how it was raised

In our quest to be healthy it's important to minimize the amount of toxins we consume, especially for those of us with compromised digestive systems.  If you’re trying to prioritize which foods are more necessary to buy organic, after all it is more expensive, then animal products are at the top of the list.  Animals “bio-accumulate” pesticides (that includes us) which means that they build up in the meat over time if the animal is eating plants that are contaminated.

With animals, there is more to consider than just organic.  If an animal like a cow is fed organic corn rather than being pasture raised, it is still not the best choice.  If you’d like to know more, read “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer or The Omnivores Dilema by Michael Pollan.  I guarantee you’ll want to be a whole lot more careful about what you eat once you understand how meat is raised in North America.  These books are about American farming, but the same things exist in Canada as well.  CTV News and Global news have recently run features on factory pig and chicken farming in Canada. 

Rather than relying on the supermarket meat counter, look for a local butcher and talk to him about where his meat comes from.  He’ll know the source and how it’s raised.  Even better, go directly to the farmer.  Many will sell direct to consumers either in bulk (think side of beef, you can share with a friend) or sometimes in smaller packaged portions.  If you let the butcher know about your gluten free diet plan he may even have some special options for you.  Many are starting to make sausages and hamburger patties gluten free!  The most important thing is that the animals that provide your meat are also on a nutritious diet that was meant for their species.  You are what you eat, and you are also what you eat eats. (I think Michael Pollan gets credit for that one)

Eggs

The best way to start your morning is with a hearty breakfast that includes protein.  Eggs are the perfect choice.  Lots of protein and vitamins.  Especially A, D and E.  Don’t worry about cholesterol.  There is cholesterol in eggs but it won’t affect your blood cholesterol levels and there is absolutely no correlation between consumption of egg yolks and heart disease. 

Organic eggs in the supermarket are expensive, and the organic label only speaks to the food that was fed to the chicken, not how it was raised.  Chickens are omnivores. They’re supposed to strut around and scratch and peck at the ground.  They eat seeds, bugs, grass, vegetables.  They are not meant to be kept in tiny cages and fed a steady diet of corn.  That will not produce healthy chickens or healthy eggs.  So I’ve found a couple of local producers who sell direct to the public for just slightly more than the price of conventional eggs in the supermarket and much less than organic.  It really is worth it.  And they are nice people to chat with too.  When I asked the lady I buy my eggs from if I could take pictures of her chickens I’m pretty sure she thought I was a bit crazy…

Where would you rather get your eggs from?

Protein From the Sea

Our oceans are the one place that we still get healthy vitamin and mineral rich food.  Unlike our soil which is becoming more depleted year by year, the oceans still produce the quality they always did.  Nothing is simple however and fish is no exception.  Fish farming practices are gaining attention and some of it is not good.  You can check seachoice.org for information on fish producers and whether they are growing and catching in a healthy and sustainable manner.

Gluten Free Vegetarian?

Yes a gluten free diet plan can be just as tasty, interesting and healthy for a vegetarian.  I ate vegetarian for a year and did just fine.

Beans, peas and other legumes are excellent if you are a vegan, vegetarian or like to choose vegetarian options on occasion and they contain no gluten, naturally!  The tricky part is cross contamination.  With beans, this happens right in the field as bean crops are rotated with wheat and barley.  I soak and wash my beans and I haven’t had any issues, but if you poke around the web and look at forums some people do report reactions.  You can go to the organic section and get beans that are certified gluten free.

The same goes for nuts seeds and gluten free grains like rice, corn, millet, amaranth, buckwheat and teff.  These will ensure you get enough healthy protein.  Again, check the label to ensure that they are not contaminated with gluten in the growing, processing or packaging stages.  If you’re not sure contact the producer. 

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