We chat to sports nutritionist, Stephanie Lowe about her gluten-free life.
As a sports nutritionist, triathlete and self-confessed cashew butter addict from Melbourne, Stephanie Lowe is passionate about the health benefits of going gluten free. Her blog offers written posts and podcasts about everything from gut health to fat loss. It also offers delicious GF recipes and Lowe’s ebooks, including Free From Gluten and Real Food Reset.
My food philosophy
“Real is best. Food that comes out of the ground, from a tree or from an animal is the most nutrient dense and whole source of nutrition. In fact, one of the biggest changes we can make to improve our health is to significantly reduce or eliminate our intake of packaged foods.”
Foods on high rotation in my diet
“Every meal I eat contains many non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and zucchini. It also contains a quality protein such as free-range eggs or grass-fed meat and good fats such as avocado and olive oil. My carbohydrates come from wholefood sources, such as berries and sweet potato. Eating this way offers me optimal nutrient density, blood sugar control, satiety and long-term health benefits.”
Foods I avoid
“I stay away from packaged foods and particularly avoid ingredients that promote inflammation in the body, such as gluten, refined sugar and polyunsaturated seed oils such as canola oil (because they are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which we have too much of in our Western diet). I believe that anti-inflammatory nutrition is the key to my good health today, and tomorrow.”
Why I became gluten free
“I stopped eating gluten nine years ago to help my mental state and heal my relationship with food, which wasn’t healthy. I was so inspired by the changes I experienced that I went back to university to study nutrition at a post-graduate level so I could educate others on the power of real food. Before this dietary change, I was eating gluten every day, whether it was a small amount through traditional soy sauce or in larger quantities in low-fat cereals and muesli bars.”
“Once I stopped eating gluten, my digestion improved, but the biggest change was the emotional impact – I felt calmer and happier. I really began to understand that with 90 per cent of serotonin receptors (our happy hormone) found in our gut, the food that we eat has a significant influence on our brain and mental health.”
“It can be tricky when waiters at a restaurant don’t quite understand gluten free, or perhaps don’t take your request seriously enough. The great thing is that in 2016 the awareness of gluten free is quite high and many restaurants code their menu GF, which makes ordering out very easy. Ten years ago it was much more challenging to cut out gluten, as many people didn’t even know what gluten was. Now, as long as you communicate what your dietary requirements are, most restaurants and cafes will go out of their way to assist.”
My transition tips
“The best way to approach gluten free is to focus on real food. If you fill your plate with non-starchy vegetables, quality protein and good fats, and choose wholefood carbohydrates, you are 99 per cent of the way there. Healthy, fresh food doesn’t come in a box, so there is really minimal need for the gluten-free products that are increasingly appearing on our supermarket shelves. Stick to whole and fresh foods instead.”
My day on a plate
» A berry smoothie with spinach, avocado, coconut milk, cinnamon and raw pea protein
» Shepherd’s pie with pumpkin mash or a three-egg omelette with a side of avocado and kimchi
» Grass-fed steak or free-range chicken with a rocket salad or steamed greens topped with grass-fed butter and Himalayan salt
NEXT: Think you may be intolerant to other foods? Check out our guide to food intolerances.