Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance (IUNA) Findings:
- Intakes of fruit and vegetables were low, less than 3 servings per day, well below the recommended 5-7-a-day. This includes about one serving of vegetables and one and a half servings of fruit, including unsweetened fruit juice.
- The average daily intake of bread was 85g (approximately 2 slices) with 57g as white bread and 18g as wholemeal/brown bread.
- Average consumption of pasta, rice and savouries was 128g, including 36g from pasta, 31g from savouries (e.g., instant noodles, savoury/fried rice dishes), 29g from pizza and 27g from rice.
- The average daily intake of potatoes and potato products was 84g with similar contributions from chipped, fried, and roast potatoes (41g) and boiled/mashed/baked potatoes (36g).
It could be assumed that this age group representation also indicates the eating habits of those with Coeliac disease.
So, which of these findings are most important to address for Coeliac teens?
The finding in this research on the consumption of fruit and veg is important to note for coeliacs as fruit and veg is an excellent source of fibre in the gluten free diet, fibre is one of the main nutrients sometimes lacking in the gluten free diet. The cereals used to replace wheat in gluten free bread and pasta are lower in fibre. In addition to gut mobility, dietary fibre is well known for its many health benefits. High intake of fibre is associated with lower blood cholesterol levels and protection against developing colon cancer and Type 2 diabetes.
Let us look at existing foods you enjoy and look at ways of adding more fruit and vegetables.
- Pasta or rice noodles are a quick easy fix to feel full quickly, next time you are having these add in some frozen vegetables or frozen stir fry vegetables, it takes two minutes and frozen veg has as much nutrients as fresh veg.
- Make potato wedges or sweet potato wedges, leave the skin on this is where a lot of the fibre is. Simply cut them into wedges and toss in olive oil, and Cajun spices and smoked paprika, cook in a preheated oven at 180°c for 20 minutes until crispy serve with a dip made by mixing Greek yogurt with gluten free sweet chilli sauce or with chopped chives, this also adds more calcium to the day.
- Change your rice choice to brown rice, just before it is finished cooking which takes approx. 20 minutes add in tinned or frozen sweetcorn and frozen mixed veg or peas, season to taste.
- When eating Bolognese or chilli con carne, stir in a handful of baby spinach leaves at the end, it adds fibre and iron. If you are cooking the Bolognese yourself, try using 100g of red lentils and two large, grated carrots with 500g of mince. Red lentils are high in fibre and potassium. Lentils are an excellent source of folate. A type of B-vitamin, folate both these nutrients can be low in the gluten free diet
- An omelette made with 2 eggs, leftover diced cooked potato, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, scallion and baby spinach or cooked broccoli is a great way of packing in extra vegetables
- Gluten free pasta and chicken salad, mix pasta with leftover roast chicken, mixed with mayonnaise or Greek style natural yogurt, diced peppers, sweetcorn, baby spinach cherry tomatoes and add chopped pineapple in .
- Pitta pizza. Using a gluten free wholemeal pitta bread, top it with 2 tablespoons of passata and add baby spinach leaves, sliced peppers and mushrooms, sweetcorn, sliced tomatoes season with salt and pepper, add grated cheddar, bake in a preheated oven at 180°c for 10 mins. After the passata is on you can add any of your favourite toppings. Be sure to include lots of veg
- A quick and easy snack, like low fat Greek yogurt is a great accompaniment to a variety of fruits, try cutting apples and pears with the skin on for more fibre. Make sure to include banana as these are a great source of soluble and insoluble fibre.