Eating Gluten Free: Is It For You?

In recent years there has been a surge in the amount of gluten-free products that are hitting the grocery store shelves. This can easily give you the impression that you need to be on a gluten-free diet. As a matter of fact, it has already given many people that idea.

There is a New Yorker cartoon done by Alex Gregory that puts the whole gluten-free craze so eloquently. Two ladies driving in a convertible and one says, “I have no idea what gluten is, either, but I’m avoiding it, just to be safe.” That gives a good laugh, but sadly this is what is happening; some people have no idea why they are avoiding gluten.

So, what is gluten? It is simply a strong, stretchy protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It is formed when the flour is mixed with water and it gives the bread its structure. Some baked goods require more gluten than others. For example, bread needs lots of gluten, but pie crust and other flakey, tender goodies do not. Too much gluten will make Pie crusts tough.

I am not exactly sure when or where this craze/fad started, but the food industry has not helped it. Almost everywhere you look, you can find gluten-free foods; even foods that were already gluten-free (meaning that they are made from a flour other than wheat, rye or barley) are now boldly labeled “gluten-free”. Having multiple gluten-free options is excellent for those persons who really need to avoid gluten but it also makes others think they need to avoid it too.

Many people think avoiding gluten will help them lose weight but in reality they may be eating just as unhealthy as anyone else. An article entitled, Eating Gluten Free Isn’t Always Healthy, talks about various brands that tout gluten-free but explains how many of them are made of tapioca starch, oil, sugar, butter and heavy cream. Some of these goodies can be full of sugar and laden with calories.

Do you think eating these kinds of food will help you to lose weight just because they are gluten-free? Absolutely not! Persons who have been medically diagnosed with Celiac Disease are the only people who need to avoid gluten. Celiac disease is a gastrointestinal disorder so they simply cannot tolerate or digest the protein. It is much more than some bloating you may experience after eating something with gluten.