One problem that affects many coeliacs on a gluten free diet is a lack of fibre.
Much of the fibre we normally eat comes from cereals and bread. When these are off the menu, it can be difficult to pick up fibre in other ways. Fibre can be found in lots of foods but the amount in each food can be quite small so you need to eat lots of fibre foods throughout the day to avoid problems such as constipation and bloating.
We need to aim for between 24g and 35g of fibre everyday. Some ways of maximising fibre on a gluten free diet are below:
Choose brown gluten free bread where possible. The variety of gluten free breads have increased in recent years and most brands have a brown or higher fibre version. A slice of most brown breads will give you 1-2g of fibre.
Fruit and vegetables
You will get some fibre in fruit and vegetables, but not a huge amount. This is why you need to eat quite a lot of fruit and vegetables to build up your fibre. A piece of fruit or a serving of vegetables will give you 2-3g of fibre, so if you eat your 5-a-day then you will pick up 10-15g of fibre.
Beans and lentils
Beans and lentils are one of the best places to get fibre. 200g or a small tin of beans will give you about 14g of gluten free fibre. Gluten free baked beans are great as are chickpeas and kidney beans. These can be added to salads or to vegetable soups. Lentils are another great source of gluten free fibre and can be added to soups, stews and casseroles.
Nuts and seeds
These are a great source of fibre. Nuts can be eaten as a snack and seeds can be sprinkled on salads or gluten free cereals. If you make your own bread, add crushed seeds for extra fibre.
Dried fruit is another good source of fibre and there is a huge variety available. Raisins, apricots, mango, goji berries, use them as snacks or add to gluten free breads, biscuits and bakes. Just check that they haven't been dusted with flour to stop them sticking together.
Finally, if you do increase your fibre, remember to drink 2-3 extra glasses of water to help everything run smoothly.