The gluten-free diet is the only “therapy” available for the management of celiac disease. To avoid the onset of symptoms, it is essential to eliminate gluten from your diet, by consuming both the great variety of naturally gluten-free products and the substitutes sold on the market. How is it possible to manage body weight with a gluten-free diet? By paying attention to food and practicing physical activity, as explained by Dr. Paoletta Preatoni, gastroenterologist and digestive endoscopist at Humanitas.
By having this wide range of products available, celiac individuals have the opportunity to follow a varied and balanced diet. Just think of the many foods that don’t contain gluten in their nutritional profile: rice, corn, buckwheat, fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, potatoes and legumes. Therefore, the recommendations for healthy eating in order to avoid weight gain are the same as for the general population.
After the diagnosis of celiac disease, a patient may tend to gain a few pounds in the short term with the start of a gluten-free diet. However, over the months, it will be possible to get back to a normal weight by settling on a varied diet: ‘The gluten-free diet restores the normal absorbing function of the small intestine that is partially or totally altered by lesions of the intestinal mucosa, typical of celiac disease. This is the first factor that can contribute to a body weight recovery. Gluten-free products also tend to be slightly more caloric than gluten-containing analogues’, says Dr. Preatoni.
Weight management will depend on a more varied diet: ‘It is always advisable to maintain a balanced diet using all the numerous gluten-free products found in nature and not relying exclusively on gluten-free pre-packaged products’.
‘Of course, a celiac person on a diet has the same risk of gaining weight as a normal person, so we must always keep in mind the good dietary rules, including not exceeding saturated fats consumption and maintaining a correct caloric intake with the right percentage of carbohydrates, proteins, fatty acids and regular physical activity’, concludes the doctor. Moreover, even in this case, the indications for celiac patients don’t diverge from what is recommended to the rest of the population: at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week.