You’ve heard friends talk about it, seen the options on restaurant menus, and perhaps even pondered trying it yourself: the gluten-free, low-carb diet. But what’s the science behind it, and what does saying goodbye to white flour really mean?
For many people, even small dietary choices can have a significant impact on their health, which is why Southeastern Med’s nutrition counselors and general wellness services are so important to our community — from patients recovering from cancer treatments to those simply striving to avoid common health risks like obesity and diabetes. Not every piece of nutritional advice will apply to everyone’s unique situation, but when it comes to popular trends like gluten-free diets, it never hurts to learn more and discuss your best options with a physician or nutritionist.
Most experts agree that unless you have a medical condition like Celiac disease, there’s no need to completely remove bread or other starches from your diet. However, not all carbs are created equal, and there’s popular consensus that simple (white) starches are not our friends. This begs the question . . .
What’s Wrong with White Flour?
Refined white flour contains practically no vitamins and minerals and has added ingredients, like high-fructose corn syrup and preservatives. Even the “enriched” versions can’t compare to their whole-grain counterparts. Our bodies burn up simple, white starches quickly, which makes our blood sugar levels spike — just like sugar. Too much white flour can lead to problems like the aforementioned diabetes, obesity, inflammation, etc.
How Can I Reduce White Flour Intake and Still Enjoy My Food?
Unfortunately, white flour is often found in some of our favorite guilty-pleasure foods, including pizza, burgers, and cake. While the thought of giving up these foods entirely might seem like a non-starter, fear not — we’ve got tons of alternatives to choose from that help us keep the flavors and textures we love, without sacrificing our health in the process. And even better news, because of the high demand for lower-carb or healthier-carb options, you can even find convenient, prepacked alternatives, as well.
White Flour Alternatives for Cooking/Baking
If you cook or bake at home, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of dishes call for flour. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to white flour alternatives. Whole wheat, brown rice, coconut … the types of flour are endless. When using white flour substitutes, you usually need to combine multiple flours and use different amounts to get a similar texture and taste. A simple google search will lead you to all the answers you need to make the right swap.
Tasty Food Swaps to Limit Simple Carbs
To keep variety in your diet, you need to get creative about how to ease out the simple carbs and load up on the good stuff. We’ve got some suggestions to get you started.
- Spaghetti squash
- Zucchini, beet or yellow squash noodles
- Soba noodles (“nutty” tasting noodle, loaded with fiber and protein)
- Shirataki noodles, also called “Miracle Noodle” (made of konjac yams)
- Black bean, green lentil, red lentil pasta
Tortilla / Pizza Crust Alternatives
- Cauliflower tortillas
- Cauliflower pizza crust
Sandwich Bread / Burger Bun Alternatives
- Iceberg lettuce wraps
- Portabella mushroom buns
- No-carb Cloud Bread
- Eggplant bruschetta
Potato / Fries Alternatives
- Sweet potato fries
- Roasted turnips with parmesan
- Mashed cauliflower
Mac and Cheese Alternatives
- Mac and cheese-style cauliflower
White Rice Alternatives
- Cauliflower rice
- Brown rice
- Farro (a type of hulled wheat)
- Freekeh (wheat harvested while young and green)
Please call our Registered Dietitians at (740) 439-8941 with any questions.