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If you are part of the 1 percent of people in this country with Celiac disease, then avoiding gluten is a must. But even if you are not, opting out of gluten can coincide with a healthy lifestyle.
As a travel nurse, you probably already know that gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and similar grains. There is a lot of nutritional benefit in gluten, but for some, it causes digestive problems that you don’t want to have while working on assignment. Consider gluten-free snacks that still give you a burst of energy when working a long shift.
If you want a snack that has a little crunch, but without the wheat, then try a cracker or pretzel made with flax or sesame. Make sure the package says it is gluten-free before buying it, because even if it has flax, the manufacturer may still use wheat in the recipe. We like Mary’s Gone Crackers, Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzels and Food Should Taste Good’s sweet potato chips.
If you truly want to be gluten free, then fruit is a perfect snack. Whether you decide to bring in a banana or apple, dehydrated chips, or packaged mandarins, it’s all good. Just be sure not to eat too much in one sitting, as most fruit contains quite a bit of sugar.
Rice cakes are another good crunchy snack option. The problem with rice cakes is the taste. Look for products that have additional flavorings like cheddar or sea salt, but keep in mind that little extra adds calories and sodium, too. You can also top off your rice cake with something tasty like a spoonful of cream cheese, slice of avocado for protein or almond butter.
You can’t go wrong with raw veggies any time of day. Pack a small container of fat-free dressing to make them more appealing, too. That combination of crunch and flavor is a winning one.
Eating a whole bag of buttery popcorn sure isn’t healthy, but Boom Chicka Pop offers popcorn, puffs and bites that are gluten free, natural, and 35 calories per cup. These are perfect for those occasions when you’re craving junk food, but don’t want to eat an additional 500+ calories!
Going gluten-free doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the sweet taste of muffins. You probably won’t find these in the hospital cafeteria, but if you feel like baking on your time off, they are not hard to make. This recipe combines sweet potatoes with cranberry sauce and a little brown sugar. Make a basket full and use them to break the ice on your next assignment.
Pack your own or hit up the cafeteria for one because a hardboiled egg is a low calorie, protein-packed snack option that is easy to eat when you are busy. Just a few bites will give you enough energy to get through until you have a chance to eat a real meal.
Avoiding gluten isn’t necessary unless you have Celiac disease or some other medical problem, but if you are trying to cut back, then there are plenty of healthy snacks out there that don’t rely on wheat.