Living on a Gluten-Free Pregnancy Diet

by Brian M. Williams

Gluten-Free Pregnancy DietIf you've been diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten intolerant, or a wheat allergy, questions about nutrition and diet might appear as quickly as the "positive" on your pregnancy test.

Can a gluten-free diet grow a healthy baby?

Which prenatal can I take?

How can I get enough B vitamins when I am not allowed to eat certain grains?

Good news! A gluten-free diet includes lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole gluten-free grains, and unprocessed items. These types of foods contain the nutrients that help you grow a beautiful, healthy baby, even gluten-free.

Eating Well During Pregnancy

Moms-to-be are encouraged to eat a variety of foods to get all the necessary nutrients. Your goal during pregnancy is exactly the same, with two caveats. You'll limit your grain products to those that are gluten-free and check labels for hidden sources of gluten.

For any pregnancy, the World Health Organization recommends that you eat the items in the immediate list below, each day.

  • Six-11 servings of breads and grains
  • Two to four servings of fruit
  • Four or more servings of vegetables
  • Four servings of dairy products
  • Three servings of protein sources (meat, poultry, fish, legumes, eggs or nuts)
  • Two or more servings of healthy fats

When you're gluten-free, you learn how to adjust and find the best sources for each of these categories. No matter what, you will become an avid label reader -- your health could depend on it!

Basic Foods for a Gluten-Free Diet

Whole gluten-free grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, millet and amaranth, are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and contribute to a healthy gluten-free diet.

These grains and starches are allowed and can be used in a gluten-free diet:

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn
  • Cornmeal
  • Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
  • Polenta
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Tapioca

Other gluten-free foods include:

  • Fruits
  • Fresh meats, fish and poultry
  • Milk and most dairy products
  • Potatoes
  • Vegetables

Gluten-Free Sample Menu

A gluten-free diet sounds tough, but it's really a piece of cake -- gluten-free of course! This sample menu can help you get you started. Don't limit yourself to this sample. Because there is a growing awareness of celiac disease and gluten issues, there is a wide variety of cookbooks to download and purchase online.

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with salsa, orange slices, gluten-free toast, milk

Lunch: Turkey and swiss sandwich on gluten-free bread, red pepper and tomato slices.

Dinner: Salmon with lemon, brown rice, asparagus, milk

Snacks: Fresh fruit topped with Greek yogurt, peanut butter on celery, frozen banana pop coated with plain yogurt and chocolate sprinkles.

Nutritional Challenges During Pregnancy

Being gluten-free can present challenges during your pregnancy. Certain nutrients tend be lower in your diet, especially if you rely on processed gluten-free foods.

Maintaining a gluten-free diet, coupled with pregnancy can seem overwhelming. If you're puzzled and concerned, ask your healthcare provider to suggest a registered dietician who has experience dealing with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Can You Get Enough of These?

According to MayoClinic.com, following a gluten-free diet can result in low levels of some vitamins and nutrients. Talk to your doctor to make sure you are getting enough iron, fiber, calcium and folic acid.

Some common deficiencies associated with a gluten-free diet include:

  • Calcium
  • Fiber
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Folate

Eliminating gluten allows your intestinal villa to heal so that you absorb nutrients better, but it doesn't guarantee your diet will meet basic requirements.