Gluten free, it's a common term now that many people are using as a "diet" however what do you really know about being gluten free and is it something that is good for you?
What is a gluten intolerance? It isn’t a food allergy. It’s a physical condition in your gut. Basically, undigested gluten proteins (prevalent in wheat and other grains) hang out in your intestines and are treated by your body like a foreign invader, irritating your gut and flattening the microvilli along the small intestine wall. Without those microvilli, you have considerably less surface area with which to absorb the nutrients from your food. This leads sufferers to experience symptoms of malabsorption, including chronic fatigue, neurological disorders, nutrient deficiencies, anemia, nausea, skin rashes, depression, and more.
What is gluten? Gluten is the primary protein component of wheat, it is what gives breads their delicious chewy texture. The only known cure for celiac disease is complete elimination of gluten from the diet. This means cutting out processed foods such as pizza, bagels, pasta, pancakes, waffles, doughnuts, cookies, soy sauce (it has wheat in it), and anything containing wheat. For the sake of convenience, foods labeled “gluten free” are free of these proteins as well. But foods labeled “wheat free” may still contain them, so these foods are not necessarily gluten free.
Here is the catch 22. NOT all gluten free products are healthy. As gluten-free gains popularity, food companies, who are well-aware of a potential marketing opportunity, turn out processed, sugary junk foods as “healthy” gluten-free alternatives. Look at most grocery aisles and you’ll find gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, breads and pretty much any conventional sugary, junky food.So while those cookies say “gluten-free” in big bold letters, turn the box around and read the ingredients: you will find high sugar content, flour (which converts to sugar) and weird food-like additives that add up to big profits for these companies, while adding pounds around your midsection and sabotaging your health.
What should you eat? Whole foods that nature created because it's a gluten-free diet. Don't fall into the marketing traps or fad diets. I usually discuss going paleo with many of my clients because by default it will clean up your diet, incorporate more whole foods and help rid the body of processed foods/ toxins built up over time.
My biggest advice is to cook at home. Buy foods that require them to be cooked because if not used they will spoil. That is what your body is craving. Choose a variety of fruits and veggies to eat during your week and try new things often. If was grown on a plant, eat it; but if it was made in a plant, don’t eat it. Naturally gluten-free foods don’t come in a box and certainly don’t have a ton of weird ingredients. Pay attention to the order in which ingredients are listed. If a real food is listed at the end and sugar or ingredients that you don’t recognize are listed at top, put it back. The most abundant ingredient is listed first. Others are listed in descending order by weight. If you see any words on the label you can’t pronounce, you should definitely avoid it.
A gluten-free diet makes a great way to reduce inflammation, improve gut function, lose weight and improve your mood and energy. But this only happens when you eat real, whole foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, clean animal foods, whole gluten-free grains and beans. If you need help or want more information, please comment below so we can start a discussion!