Eating Right on a Gluten-Free Diet
You’ve seen the labels all over the grocery stores. Foods marketed as “gluten free” are in abundance. And with more than 18 million Americans that have some type of sensitivity to gluten, the gluten-free craze has sky rocketed. While there is no evidence that diets void of gluten are inherently better for you (unless you medically have an allergy to gluten), many people have moved towards decreasing the amount of gluten they consume because they have seen changes in their health.
Gluten and Its Affect on the Body
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, wheat gluten, barley, rye, malt, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Many additives and fillers that are derived from those grains also contain gluten. Gluten is everywhere; from breads to pasta, sauces and salad dressing, even beer and pizza dough contain of gluten.
It is estimated that around one out of every 133 Americans has Celiac’s Disease, a serious and sometimes life-threatening allergy to gluten that causes significant health consequences. Celiac’s Disease an autoimmune disease, in which the body regards gluten as an invader and attacks and destroys an important part of the small intestine, the villi, which is used to absorb nutrients from food.
Those with gluten sensitivities feel symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, stomachache, headaches, rashes, nutrient deficiency, bone density loss, and weight gain because the villi inside the small intestine has not absorbed the proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals needed to keep the body functioning at its optimal level.
Foods That Are Gluten Free
Whether you have an aversion to gluten or you just want to decrease the amount of gluten in your diet, there are plenty of wholesome and organic foods that are naturally cultivated to incorporate into your diet.
Those foods include:
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Lean meats, fish, and poultry (without breading, of course)
- Nuts and Seeds
- Some Dairy (such as some milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream)
If you enjoy eating breads and pastas, there are still many alternatives available. Many manufacturers have created gluten free products as possible options for consumers that desire the feel and taste of dough and pasta.
Try out these gluten free options:
- Rice pastas & breads
- Potato pasta & bread
- Brown rice
- Potato & Rice Flour
- Almond meal
- Specific types of cake and brownie mix
Gluten Free Does Not Mean Healthy
Don’t be a fool to the labels. Just because a package is labeled as gluten free does not mean that it is healthier than a piece of fruit or a salad. A gluten free pre-packaged dinner could still contain high amounts of sodium or saturated fat. And a gluten free cookie may not be more nutritious than a regular one.
If you are looking to lose weight or decrease the amount of calories you consume, going gluten free can be an option but may not be the solution. Many foods that contain gluten are filled with fiber, iron, and vitamins, which is essential to fat burning and muscle growth. Therefore, when you forgo gluten in your diet, you must sure that you acquire those essential nutrients in other ways.
Should You Go Gluten Free?
Feeling sluggish? Take a week off of eating gluten. Note any changes in your body or your focus. If you feel more energetic or are less spacy, then perhaps avoiding gluten is a good option.
Have stomach pain? Try steering clear of foods with gluten and stick to foods that you know you can stomach. Consult your doctor. See a nutritionist. There is no reason why eating should be painful.
Notice a sudden change in your weight? People can develop Non-Celiac Gulten Sensitivity or Celiac’s Disease at any point in their life. Visit your health practitioner for some blood work.
NY Times – Should We All Go Gluten Free
Mayo Clinic – Gluten Free Diet: What’s Allowed, What’s Not
Bob’s Red Mill – Gluten Free Products
Oprah – Gluten Free: Is It For Me?
Huffington Post – Is A Gluten Free Diet Really Healthier?