Should You Go Gluten Free?

Gluten free is all the rage right now. Celebrities are advocating the health benefits of eliminating gluten from your diet and magazines are telling you it is the easiest way to lose weight. Plus, more and more grocery stores are carrying products that are free of gluten. With so much buzz about gluten, the question remains: should you go gluten free?

Well, it depends. For those with gluten allergies or gluten sensitivities, the only choice is to eliminate gluten from the diet. Ingesting gluten can make people with allergies feel sick or weak. Also, they will often experience extreme stomach issues. When this happens, it is essential to remove gluten from the diet, as the symptoms can progress or get much worse. However, this should be done with the help of a doctor. They can make a proper diagnosis and help lay out an appropriate meal plan.

Going gluten free is a must for some people…. but what about the rest of us? Why has a serious medical issue been made so mainstream? You can blame celebrities and fad diets for that. People who eliminated gluten from their diet altogether often found that they were able to lose weight. Perfect, right? Not so much. The reality is that gluten free has gone from a necessity for some to an industry for others. In Canada alone, the gluten free industry is worth an estimated $90 million dollars. That number is expected to rise as the years go on. Some of the most common reasons that people without gluten sensitivities or celiac disease go gluten free? To reduce inflammation, eat better, lose weight, avoid carbohydrates, and increase their overall energy level. Unfortunately, those results aren’t necessarily realistic.

With more and more gluten free options out there, there are some things to consider before you reach for those gluten free baked goods. The first? Gluten free does not equal healthy. Just because something doesn’t have gluten in it, doesn’t mean that you are going to magically shed pounds. In act, without gluten to hold baked goods together, other ingredients need to be used. Those ingredients are often things like fats and sugars. By removing gluten from your diet, you may actually be increasing your intake of potentially dangerous ingredients.

If you eliminate gluten from your diet unnecessarily, it can increase your chances of developing serious problems, like a micronutrient deficiency. This is especially true if you are grabbing pre-packaged gluten free foods rather than eating foods that naturally do not have gluten in them already. In addition, gluten free can often lead people to eat more than they normally would – also contributing to weight gain. The idea that gluten free is healthy can cause overeating simply because people consider it to be a ‘good’ food.

Gluten free isn’t right for everyone. All the buzz and celebrity endorsements in the world can’t make it healthy. Unless you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, don’t ignore gluten. This diet is often necessary for medical purposes, but the rest of us should focus on healthy living…rather than just another fad diet.

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