Why Go Gluten Free?

Why is everyone talking about gluten? Some people would refer to gluten as Satan, but gluten is really a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and some other grains. There are many reasons people decide to eliminate gluten from their diet, which I will discuss later in this blog.

At the age of 21, I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which required me to follow a gluten-free diet for-ev-er, for-EV-ER, FOR-EV-ER (Sandlot, anyone?). I may have been a bit dramatic thinking my life was over. How could I not drink beer as a 21-year-old living in Wisconsin? How could I say no to pizza at a Superbowl Party? Five years ago, celiac disease and gluten free diets were relatively unheard of and going out to eat and grocery shopping was a nightmare.

Over the past few years, there has been a huge increase in gluten-free products. I assume the rise is due to the increase diagnosing celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and celebrities like Miley Cyrus who swore the gluten free diet got them their rockin’ body. Honestly, I secretly hoped I would lose weight after my diagnosis and transition to the gluten free diet, but unfortunately, my weight stayed the same. I replaced my pasta with gluten free pasta, my bread with gluten free bread, and continued eating processed foods.

Can a gluten free diet be healthy? Yes. Can a gluten free diet be unhealthy? Absolutely.

Confused? I felt that way too. There are a few reasons to try going gluten free. Maybe, you were diagnosed with celiac disease or your doctor believes you have gluten intolerance. Maybe, you think it will help with your digestion, or maybe you heard it in an interview with Miley Cyrus. Whatever your reason may be, there are a few things to be aware of before jumping on the gluten free bandwagon.

• If you are in the testing process for celiac disease, do not begin a gluten-free diet until the blood work and endoscopy is completed. If you start the diet before these tests, you could encounter a false negative result.
• Buying gluten free products such as waffles, bread, donuts, pasta, and crackers will NOT lead to weight loss and may not help with your digestive discomforts. These are still processed food products. Most of these foods are low in fiber and high in sugar, and do not taste very good. Another reason to avoid these products is the cost; a loaf of bread is twice the price and half the size. These products are wonderful f you do have celiac disease or gluten intolerance and want the occasional treat, but even with my celiac disease diagnosis, I typically avoid the gluten-free food aisle.
If you decide to go gluten free for weight maintenance and digestive health, my recommendation would be to stick to naturally gluten free real foods. Focus on eating fruits, vegetables, meats (watch out for sauces or seasonings), nuts, and other sources of healthy fats. You can get your servings of carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, so do not be too concerned about missing that dinner roll. Instead of ordering a plate full of gluten-free pasta at Olive Garden, choose the salmon and vegetables. The salmon and vegetables will better satisfy you and will not put you on the blood sugar roller coaster (more on this subject later). Remember to read the ingredient list on food products. If the list is long and there are things you cannot pronounce, it is probably best to avoid that food product.

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