I have been dying to write this post since the inception of this website.
So you think you have a gluten-intolerance/allergy?
Less than 1% of the American population actually suffers from celiac disease- this is a serious hereditary condition in which the intestinal surface is damaged by the auto-immune response caused by eating gluten, and doesn't allow the intestine to absorb the nutrients properly. This then leads to all sorts of gastrointestinal disruption, discomfort, serious headaches, nausea, and cramping.
I have a friend who has celiacs and it drives her bonkers that the label of "gluten-free" has become "trendy" in the health/fitness world.
For her, her disease is sometimes to the point of debilitating and can make a lot of things very difficult. Going out to restaurants is like a game of roulette. Sure, the menu lists something as a salad with a ginger dressing- but a lot of the times, that includes some soy sauce in the mix and soy is usually produced in the same facilities as wheat is. What about the area that the chef is preparing her food in? Was there flour sprinkled somewhere in that vicinity? That seemingly harmless, easily overlooked action can land my friend in her bed sick for several, very miserable days.
Only another 5% of Americans report to serious gluten-intolerances, but it seems like every other person nowadays is trying to avoid gluten like it's the plague.
It's become so trendy that food manufacturers are slapping the label, "gluten-free" on things that never even contained gluten to begin with! Or they have come out with gluten-free versions of their products that end up having a way longer unpronounceable ingredient list and higher levels of unnecessary sodiums/sugars/fats/carbs.
If you do not have celiacs or a serious, medical gluten-intolerance,
why are you avoiding or think you should avoid gluten?
An important question to ask yourself with any decision or choice you make- why are you doing it?
If you are avoiding gluten because you believe it's a good way to lose weight:
"But it does help!" "But I know people who swear by it!"
Let's cut to the chase here: there is a very high probability (100% is very high, right?) that that weight loss is tied directly to more conscious eating.
With any type of "diet," you have to be way more cognizant of every thing you're putting in your mouth. Gluten is in a lot of common, ordinary processed foods like bread, cereals, dressings/sauces, imitation meats/seafood, pastas, candies, baked goods (cakes, cookies, pies, etc), and beer. All those things tend to have a lot of cr*p not good for you, not just gluten- sugars, artificial additives. So cutting out your mid-afternoon office cookie/dip in the candy bowl, or skipping the bread basket at dinners will aid in fat loss- but not because of the magic disappearance of gluten.
If you are avoiding gluten because you & your stomach feels better without it/or you think it will:
I don't know your body as well as you know your own body.
Each person is responsible and in charge of deciding what feels good versus what doesn't for your body- so who am I to judge if you go gluten-free and you feel wonderful. Go you!
But if you think this is the solution to help you feel less sluggish, your stomach feel better, and/or give you more energy- I ask that you consider a few things first:
Are you sleeping 8 hours a night?
Is your daily diet already devoid of processed foods and added sugars?
Are you exercising regularly?
Are you drinking enough water?
If your answer to one or more of these questions is NO, give working on one of those things a try before you buy a ticket on the gluten-free airline.
This is a frequently-discussed topic and everyone has a lot of opinions on the subject. As with everything, it is about what is right for you and your body- but it's better to know all your facts before you dive headfirst into something just because it's #trending.