I was at my local Whole Foods store the other day and noticed a women stocking up on anything and everything that contained the words “gluten free” on the package. I knew immediately that she was sold on what she thought was the best diet since cabbage soup.
I really wanted to ask her if she had a medical reason for staying away from gluten, or if she was just jumping on the gluten free bandwagon because it’s become so popular. I decided not to intrude and just finished my own shopping.
Is this gluten free craze a fad diet or a legitimate way to live a healthier life? Well…actually it’s both.
Gluten is found in things like wheat, barley and rye, so getting rid of gluten-filled breads and pastas from your diet can really help with weight loss. However, eliminating gluten from your diet only to add gluten-free, processed snacks like cookies and crackers really isn’t going to help your waistline at all. In fact, those processed foods can hurt your waistline. Not to mention, all those gluten free cookies and crackers are just a new, expensive junk food!
If you really want to see how taking gluten out of your diet will affect your weight, you’re better off eating naturally gluten free foods like fruits, vegetables, meats and even rice and quinoa – eating both rice and quinoa in moderation. Remember, rice is still a carb and if you eat too much of it, you won’t lose any weight.
Now, if you’ve taken a food allergy test and found that you really have a gluten sensitivity or have been diagnosed with celiac disease (a digestive condition triggered by gluten), it is definitely necessary to get that gluten out of your diet. It can even be necessary to avoid gluten if a food allergy test came back negative, as most people may have some kind of sensitivity to gluten. And once you do eliminate gluten from your diet, you may notice that your waistline will shrink a little because one of the main symptoms of gluten intolerance is inflammation, which leads to weight gain. Other symptoms can include everything from depression, fatigue and moodiness to all sorts of autoimmune diseases and allergies like thyroiditis, arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
More recently, it was found that estrogen levels are generally lower in women with celiac disease and that women who go untreated (they keep eating foods with gluten in them) may go through menopause earlier than women without the disease.
I know it seems like it’s just another fad diet that we have to endure, but it’s much more than that. In fact, 99% of people who have a problem with eating gluten don’t even know it!
My advice: make an appointment to take a food allergy/sensitivity test or simply do an elimination diet. Eliminate gluten for 4 weeks and then add it back into your diet for two days. When added back to your diet, eat foods with gluten 2-3 times per day and watch for GI issues, joint pain, headaches, skin issues, energy disturbance and weight gain.
Below is a list of foods that contain gluten. You may be surprised at some of the foods gluten can be hiding:
- Breads, bagels
- Pasta, couscous
- Crackers, croutons
- Doughnuts, cookies, cakes
- Boxed soups
- Cold-cut meats, hot dogs, sausages
- Soy sauce
- Salad dressings
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