Oatmeal

Hey Alfonso,

So it has always seemed like oatmeal is the magical breakfast and an important staple of a healthy diet. But how does this square with the popularity of the Paleo diet and it’s no grains/gluten rules – what’s the deal?

I know there’s gluten free oatmeal. I have never bought it. Personally, I buy steel cut, but I still don’t know! Is this something breakfast worthy for everyday? If so, which oatmeal is best? Let me know, please!

Thanks!

Ashley

Hey Ashley, how are you? This is a great question and I think the answer may surprise you and a lot of others.

First, pure oatmeal is gluten free as it’s not a wheat product. The issue with most brands that you’ll find in the marketplace today is that the oatmeal is contaminated or cross-processed with other products that do contain gluten. Many facilities produce more than one commodity and as such, grains, ryes and other gluten products can all be found under the same roof with oatmeal.

And that’s not the only place that oats can be exposed to gluten contamination. During transport, when being harvested or even in storage there’s a risk and from what I understand, even when grown next to a wheat field there may be issues. But you’re actually asking two separate questions, one regarding gluten and the other in reference to the Paleo plan.

If you have gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease, it’s imperative that you research the companies that are selling 100% gluten free and pure oatmeal. While there is some research that suggests people who are allergic to gluten can be okay with store bought oatmeal, I personally wouldn’t risk it. And in fact it’s also a bit conflicting because even those people with gluten allergies who eat pure oatmeal may have an adverse reaction with avenin, the protein found within oats. But if you have any sensitivity I’m sure you’re aware and in truth this makes up a small percentage of people.

Now you also ask about fitting oatmeal into a Paleo plan. Well the truth is it DOESN’T fit if you’re a hardcore Paleoist. Oatmeal is a product of the agricultural revolution, likes rice, beans and potatoes, which our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t have access to. Is oatmeal bad for you? No, I’d say not and you’re right, it is a staple of most bodybuilding / fitness / athletes diets. With that said, I don’t really eat it much anymore. Not because of Paleo but because it bloats me and I feel puffy after a bowl. I may in fact have some intolerance to gluten or something else going on, but for me an occasional half serving is about all I’ll eat.

So should you eat oatmeal? That’s the real question right? Well I think reducing or eliminating gluten from your diet can’t be a bad thing and I think there are many people who have sensitivity issues that are unaware of them. This is another reason why I like the Paleo plan because by default, gluten, grains and starchy carbs (our nutritional downfalls) are all eliminated. I’ve said before that I use a modified Paleo plan so I’ll use some cheese, a touch or rice or a little potato here and there, but it’s kept to a minimum. If you have no issues, no gastric distress, joint pain or anything else associated with gluten intolerance, and you like oatmeal then I say eat it! Surely a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast won’t ruin your diet and is actually quite nutritious. It contains protein, complex carbohydrates, much needed dietary fiber and vitamins and minerals.

I’d only caution you to be mindful of your portion sizes as just one serving is 150 calories and it’s quite easy to eat double or triple that amount. I think people who do eat oatmeal tend to eat too much and end up loading it with excess calories from milk, butter and adding large amounts of fruit, sugar, nuts, etc. Before you know it, that healthy bowl of oatmeal just became a 500 calorie bomb of mostly carbohydrates. And we all know that’s not good.

You have to remember that all plans require a bit of wiggle room and once you become rigid and unwavering, it becomes more torture than fun and enjoyable. Makes sense right?

I hope that helped Ashley. Good luck!

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