Fad diets are an American pastime, right up there with baseball and 4th of July cookouts! We’ve heard of cabbage soup, Atkins, sugar-free, low-carb, fat-free, dairy-free, and now gluten-free. Majority of Americans don’t even know what gluten is!
I’ll take you back a few years during a normal day at work when I was at the proverbial water cooler, which was actually the coffee machine and a co-worker was talking about her latest diet. “I’m going gluten-free,” she said with a huge excited smile on her face. Confused, I asked her why. She responded “Duh, to lose weight.”
Ok, chances are you know someone on a GF diet and maybe even nodded your head in uninformed agreement when they said just how terrible gluten is. There are a ton of misconceptions out there about the GF diet (and all diets for that matter). The Jimmy Kimmel show even highlighted the confusion with their viral video asking people ON a gluten-free diet what gluten actually was… spoiler alert: no one knew the answer! For any whole foodies out there who don’t already know, gluten is NOT evil!
Gluten is actually a sticky protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Protein is not inherently bad for us, so what’s the beef with gluten? Certain undigested portions of gluten can slip through our small intestine and wreak havoc on our bodies when conditions are present that cause Celiac disease and gluten-intolerance. People who have celiac disease or gluten intolerance have a combination of a faulty gene and autoantibodies that attack the body when exposed to gluten. Get ready for the real interesting part…
Only 1 in every 133 people has celiac disease and about 6 in every 133 people have a gluten sensitivity. This means that majority of Americans have absolutely no problem with digesting wheat, barley, and rye products!!! The recent explosion of GF items on the market is due to big-money marketing from some of the largest food companies in the business, which brings me back to my co-worker who wanted to lose weight on a GF diet.
The grocery store is full of multi-million dollar marketing campaigns, including all the GF items you’ll see during your next trip down the “health foods” aisle. We’re talking gluten-free pasta, cookies, crackers, pizza, tortilla chips, and even candy. The removal of wheat, barley & rye does NOT make these junk foods any better for the average person’s health. In fact, these GF foods products can be higher in sodium and lower in fiber, protein, vitamins & minerals than their gluten containing counterparts, and they can be double the cost!
So save some money and outsmart the marketing! Next time you see candy labeled gluten-free you will know exactly what they mean. If you’re avoiding gluten to eat less processed foods or fewer carbs and more protein, go for it. But if you’re aiming to lose weight by substituting a box of GF cookies for regular cookies, then you’re just making food companies a ton of money. Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported the sales of GF labeled foods as a $23 billion market…maybe I’ll start looking into buying some stock…
If you happen to know anyone (without Celiac or a gluten-intolerance) that has lost weight by changing to a gluten-free diet, chances are they are more aware of the ingredients in their food and are opting to eat more whole foods, which are naturally GF! Gluten itself doesn’t offer special nutritional benefits, but the many whole grains that contain gluten do. They’re rich in an array of vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron, as well as fiber. Remember, whole grains are good for us! Majority of the recipes featured on Whole Food Love are naturally gluten-free since they are made with WHOLE foods. If you have a question about a specific recipe or are looking for ways to makeover recipes so that they ARE gluten-free, leave a comment below or check out our Facebook page.
If you are having serious digestive issues and suspect you may have a gluten-intolerance, it’s imperative that you speak with your physician and do not self-diagnose. Celiac disease is a serious health issue and a gluten-free diet is essential. You can also reach out to Shannon at Whole Food Love for more help on how to tell and what you can eat to make yourself feel your best!
Live your WHOLE life,
Shannon + Meg
While I agree that the gluten free diet is not one most people need, not every product labeled “gluten free” has been modified at all to remove gluten. A lot of processed foods don’t have gluten to begin with, and when the gluten free boom happened, some companies added the label to notify those with gluten allergy or sensitivities that it’s safe to eat their product (whether it’s healthy is another story). Just like Oreos are an “accidentally vegan” food because they don’t contain any animal byproducts, some junk foods are “accidentally” gluten free.
Agree with everything you wrote too, just pointing out another way labels can be deceptive.
Meg Sullivan says
You are so right, thanks Tess! We really have to be armed with this kind of information before heading to the grocery store…it pays to be a smart shopper 🙂