What is all the hype over gluten-free foods? Some of us might need this diet and some of us might not. I think we all need to know the truth about gluten before falling for this new trend:
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and sometimes oats. A gluten-free diet is needed for individuals with celiac disease, an autoimmune response to gluten, which causes an inflammation in the digestive system. However, it has turned into a trend where many people without celiac disease or a gluten intolerance are buying these gluten-free products thinking that they are 'healthier'.
Don’t be fooled!
Gluten adds texture and elasticity to foods and it not just found in bread and pasta but in a variety of food products such as biscuits, cereals, soy sauce…so if you are removing gluten from these foods, what are we replacing them with?
Gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean ‘low calorie’ or ‘diet’. The truth is that gluten-free products have a lot of extra calories from fat and sugars to make up for the taste and texture of the products! So if you’re thinking of going gluten-free to lose weight, then think again! A strict gluten-free diet can be adding extra calories instead. The secret to that piece of gluten-free chocolate cake might be the butter and sugar! Similarly with packaged products, don’t misinterpret the labels.
Gluten and weight loss
On the other hand, if you decided to go gluten free and cut out pasta and bread (without replacing them with other calories) - this can result in weight loss because you have just cut out an entire food group, therefore, less calories, but that’s not from the gluten.
Similarly, in the long run cutting out an entire food group, can lead to nutritional deficiencies in fiber and certain vitamins and minerals that are found in whole grain products.
So if weight loss is your goal, the best solution is a well-balanced diet, gluten-free or not. If you’re looking to eat healthier, go for legumes, fruits and vegetables and avoid the junk food. If you need to go gluten free, consulting with your dietitian is the best way to set up the right eating plan for your lifestyle.