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This Month In Diet
  • Going Gluten Free?
    Found in many packaged foods to provide texture, gluten is hard to avoid. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or are avoiding gluten in hopes of improving your health, here are a few of the pros and cons of the gluten-free diet. Read >>
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Going Gluten Free?

Here are the pros and cons you should know before getting started.

Cutting out gluten is a huge fad these days, but do you even know what gluten is? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barely. Found in many packaged foods to provide texture, gluten is hard to avoid. So why go gluten-free (GF)? For some people, gluten triggers an autoimmune response that attacks the lining of the small intestine causing digestive problems and hindering the absorption of vital nutrients. Other people suffer from gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity. In this case, ingestion of gluten leads to digestive distress without harming the intestines. The majority of people on a gluten-free diet believe gluten is responsible for a host of other health issues.

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease or are avoiding gluten in hopes of improving your health, here are a few of the pros and cons of the gluten-free diet.

Feel Better

The main reason people go on a GF diet is to feel better. Avoiding gluten is the only treatment for celiac disease and anyone with the disease will see vast improvements to their health once gluten is eliminated. After damage to the small intestine heals, symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, bloating, fatigue, weight loss, headaches, and pain should subside.

Folks with a gluten intolerance will also experience less stomach pain, fatigue, headaches, and bloating. In addition, many people claim going GF relieves health conditions such as eczema, fatigue, digestive problems, joint pain, headaches, inflammation, thyroid disease, diabetes, weight gain, autism, ADHD, and depression.

Just because you take gluten out of something doesn’t make it a health food. - Chris Mohr

Limited Food Options

Anyone who loves pasta, bread, or convenient packaged foods will have a hard time adjusting to a GF diet. Gluten is found in the majority of processed foods, making the diet highly restrictive and difficult to go completely GF. Unless a food is clearly labeled as gluten-free, it likely contains some form of gluten. The good news is that a growing number of restaurants, grocery stores, and recipes offer gluten-free options. So often, all you have to do is ask.

Health Results

Unless you fill up on gluten-free packaged cookies, crackers, and pastas, living on a GF diet means you typically eliminate unhealthy carbs found in baked goods and packaged snack foods. Because you’re forced to fill up on lower-calorie whole foods like fruits and vegetables, chances are you’ll lose weight.

Since carbs are your main source of energy, whenever you’re on a GF diet, it’s important to make careful food choices. You may feel more energy by not eating simple carbs like those found in foods made with white flour, but you must make sure you’re eating other sources of carbs for lasting energy.

Many foods that contain gluten are also high in calcium, fiber, iron, and vitamin B, so it’s important to eat foods that make up for lost nutrients.

Cost and Convenience

A GF diet will cost you. Gluten-free foods cost at least twice as much as products that contain the wheat protein. Why this difference in cost? Each ingredient must be guaranteed free from contamination. Because of this, GF manufacturers must follow strict guidelines, and the ingredients used in place of gluten are expensive. When ingredients to make your food are more expensive, the food manufacturers must mark up prices due to demand. However, you can save money by making all your meals from scratch and eating foods that are naturally gluten-free.

Grocery shopping and eating out are tricky on a GF diet. It will take time and patience as you learn how to recognize ingredients that contain gluten. Because so many processed foods contain gluten, food preparation takes extra time and effort. But if your good health improves, it’s worth it!