Say “gluten-free” in a crowd and some folks’ ears will perk up with the mention of their obsessive dietary restriction, while other will do an #EyeRoll. Naysayers even compare gluten-free freaks to crazy Bible beaters — like, yes, it’s a positive, healthy lifestyle choice, but do you really have to shove it down everyone’s throat (literally) and act like people who eat gluten (or have sex before marriage) are sinners? YOU know the people I’m talking about.
But going gluten-free has changed the lives and health of many, yet people are still unclear on what the F it’s really all about. Our health and fitness expert Cara answers those burning questions.
Hey girl. First, explain (in kindergarten terms please), what gluten is.
Gluten is a substance found in foods processed from grains (wheat, rye, barley) that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. It is NOT an added carbohydrate or fat that when removed, takes out calories from food or makes them better for you.
Oh. Bummer. Then what’s the point of not eating it?
Unless you have Celiac Disease, you might try to take gluten out of your diet if you’re experiencing symptoms like bloating, weight gain, chronic inflammation, IBS, lethargy, skin irritation, etc. But this should be part of an elimination diet–removing allergens (or toxic substances) from your entire diet for at least two weeks. This is done to help determine if some of these food types are causing symptoms you’re experiencing regularly (not just every once in a while).
So just to reiterate. We’re NOT going to drop a bunch of poundage the second we go GF?
No, and that mindset is the biggest mistake people make when they follow a trendy food movement created by marketers (and aren’t we smarter than that?). HOWEVER, if you “go gluten-free” the right way, you will experience weight loss naturally.
And what’s the right way?
-Don’t stock up on gluten-free breads, pasta, chips, and muffins! Instead, REMOVE these types of food from your diet for two weeks, as it could be the added refined/processed sugars that your body is having a hard time with. Those are still present in gluten-free foods and will still cause weight gain when overeaten! You may find some great GF options after a couple of weeks that are lower in sugar than their counterparts, but still keep it under control. It’s moderation, not elimination, that results in weight loss and weight maintenance.
-As for what TO eat, try the produce section! What if you started to see labels on fresh vegetables and fruit that said gluten-free? Because guess what–they are (in addition to being dairy-free, nitrate-free, saturated fat-free, etc.)! It’s called eating from the Earth and it’s the best choice to make.
-Don’t half-ass it. If gluten is the cause of painful or irritating symptoms in your body, you should avoid it 100% of the time. If there isn’t anything for you to eat at a restaurant or party, don’t eat (bringing snacks is always smart).
Your fans want to know: Are YOU gluten-free?
Yes, I have avoided gluten for more than a year and will never add it back to my diet. My reason for this is personal and TMI for most people. I kept my weight in check and felt fine when I wasn’t gluten-free though, too. My goal is to help people get to a place where they feel good on the inside and out, and sometimes I encourage them to kick gluten out of their diet. But I don’t think it is THE way to live; it’s all personal choice.
Yeah, you definitely don’t preach about it.
Right. Don’t talk about your gluten-free lifestyle every time you get around food and friends! It’s a personal decision that doesn’t make you any better, healthier, or more knowledgeable about food than anyone else. And for the love of God, don’t bring a dish to a party and go on and on about how it’s gluten-free and “still tastes SOOO great!” Unless you’re in the company of GF enthusiasts, people really won’t appreciate your “amazing” creation.
Amen! Ok, last question. Real life scenario. Let’s say there’s someone like me who eats healthy most of the time, tries to stay away from processed foods, etc. If there are two of the same food (a cookie, for example) and one is gluten-free and one isn’t, is there ANY benefit to getting the gluten-free one?
So the fact that gluten is removed from an item does not make it a healthier food choice than the next. It still contains the same amount (sometimes a little more or less) of the macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates, and protein) that directly affect calories and weight response. As far as pure weight control or calorie control goes, gluten or gluten-free makes no difference. If you try to stay away from gluten part time, I personally think that’s a good choice–better than not caring about it at all. I say that because there is an increasing amount of research proving that more people are having trouble digesting gluten and other proteins found in processed wheat, so there is a reason to avoid it if you can.
However, gluten or no gluten….limiting your wheat, refined sugar, oats, corn, rice, and pasta is best for the waistline! Limit to two servings a day if you want to see a difference. That can means oatmeal for breakfast and pasta for dinner, but no bread, crackers, chips, or cookies in between! Fill the rest of the day up with foods from the Earth!