Every year there seems to be a new weight loss trend that everyone adopts into their lives without really knowing all the information about the trend. In 2013 and 2014, going gluten free seemed to be that trend. “The gluten-free diet is one of the fastest-growing nutritional movements in America”, but is often associated only with weight loss (NFCA). Grocery stores are now filled with gluten free foods and restaurants report “customers ordered more than two hundred million dishes last year that were gluten- or wheat-free” (The New Yorker). What some people who embraced this diet do not know is that cutting out gluten from diets came around as a treatment for Celiac Disease. Celiac’s is a disease where “the body is attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten” (NFCA). So is going gluten-free something everyone should do in order to live a healthier life?
In 2011 William Davis, a cardiologist, came out with the book “Wheat Belly” whose tagline is “lose the wheat, lose the weight, and find your path back to health” thus spurring the gluten free madness. After the book came out “nearly twenty million people [contended] that they regularly experience distress after eating products that contain gluten” (The New Yorker). Before Wheat Belly, gluten free products were very hard to come by as they were mainly only carried in specialty food stores like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Raisin Rack, or Natural Life. Now, gluten free cookies, pasta, cereals, bread, waffles, and pizza are all easily accessible in most big name supermarkets and are mainly thought of as being the healthier, low calorie choice when it comes to those items. Lots of people associate gluten free foods with weight loss because that is how they are advertised. Unfortunately for those people, the only ones who need to cut gluten from their diets are people with celiac disease or have a gluten intolerance.
According to the Cleveland Clinic “there’s absolutely no evidence that simply getting rid of gluten will result in weight loss”. Gluten is a “protein found in wheat, barley, and rye” and when it is taken out of food it is often “replaced with extra calories and sugars to make up for taste and texture” (Jillian Micheals). The thought that cutting gluten from a diet causes weight loss came from the fact that when people go gluten free they eat healthier in general and cut out the overly processed, starchy foods. When people eliminate gluten from their diets they end up reading nutrition labels more carefully and make overall healthier choices when buying and eating food (The Cleveland Clinic). Gluten itself is found whole grain foods, which when eaten with other healthful foods, can make a nutritious meal. Gluten itself also has “an array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber” that help make up a healthy diet (Jillian Micheals). There are people that do have to cut gluten from their eating habits because of medical conditions.
Around “three million Americans have celiac disease, and an estimated 18 million Americans have a sensitivity to gluten” (NFCA). Celiac disease does require, people who have it, to cut gluten from their diets because of the side effects it has on their bodies. The symptoms people can experience can be mild like “fatigue” and “headaches” to more severe and troublesome like “diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, and abdominal pain” (NFCA). Having celiac disease involves completely cutting out barley, rye, triticale, and wheat while foods like cake, pie, cereal, wafers, crackers, rice, and gravies should be avoided, but eating them occasionally will not be as detrimental (Mayo Clinic). Although going gluten free is a big lifestyle change, there are plenty of substitute foods that give off the same taste or texture as wheat; these substitutes include quinoa, soy, corn, buckwheat, flax, tapioca, or arrowroot (Mayo Clinic). Even though the popularity of going gluten free came about for the wrong reasons, it has made gluten free foods much more available and easy to find. Speciality food brands like Udi’s, Enjoy Life, Rudi’s, Van’s, and Amy’s, that provide a wide range of gluten free foods, can be found in big grocery shopping chains including Kroger, Meijer, and Giant Eagle. It is still very important to pay attention to the cross-contamination labels on foods because many gluten free labeled foods could still be processed in the same area as foods that do contain it.
Because going gluten free has become more popular, there are more gluten free recipes that still taste good and are appealing to those new to cutting it out. The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness has a whole section of their website dedicated to delicious, gluten free recipes that people can make at home. They feature a recipe of the week, which is a Rosemary Ciabatta Breakfast Sandwich with Chicken Andouille Sausage. The Ciabatta Rolls are gluten free, but still have the same taste and look of a normal roll. There are also recipe websites that only feature recipes that are gluten free. Two of the best websites I found were Simply Gluten-Free and Gluten-Free Goddess.Carol Kicinski is the author of Simply Gluten-Free, a professional recipe developer, and television chef. She writes her blog with the philosophy of “find[ing] and enjoy[ing] foods that are naturally gluten-free” (Simply Gluten-Free). The gluten-free goddess is written by a blogger named Karina who discovered she has a gluten sensitivity in 2001. Ever since her discovery, she was inspired to share the delicious gluten free foods she “actually [cooks] and [craves]” (Gluten-Free Goddess). Both have a variety of recipes ranging from main dishes to more snack-like items. All three of these sites are wonderful sources for anyone suffering from celiac or a gluten intolerance.
The gluten free lifestyle has been misconstrued as a diet that can be adopted by anyone who wants to shed a few pounds, when in reality it was created to help treat people who suffer from celiac disease or a wheat intolerance. Gluten is often confused with carbohydrates, because they are both found in the same types of food, but really is simply a protein that contains various vitamins and nutrients! For those people who do have celiac, it is very important to follow the gluten free lifestyle in order to get rid of all the symptoms that come with the disease.