Gluten-Free: More Than Just A Diet Fad
So you want to go gluten-free, but have no idea what that means. Don’t worry you aren’t alone. There are different reasons why people opt for a gluten-free diet with Celiac Disease, a gluten allergy, or even a gluten sensitivity being the primary reasons. Besides serious illnesses, some people opt to go gluten-free in hopes of weight loss, improved health, and more energy, but more research needs to be done.
These things are all very different, which is why going gluten-free is so much more than the newest diet everyone is trying out. A gluten-free diet can quite literally be life or death for some people.
As always, before having any major changes in your diet, consult your doctor to see if it is the right decision for you. But let's break down what it is and if it's something that can help you with your goals!
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in most grains. The gluten found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale can trigger serious health problems or other insensitivities. In the 1940s, doctors started to link gluten to bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, stomach pain, nausea, and other celiac disease symptoms. About 30 years later, Scientists realized that celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder, spurring the immune system to attack its own intestines when gluten enters the body.
In the 1980s doctors realized that it was possible to have gluten sensitivity without having celiac disease. But it wasn't until the 2000's that people started making gluten the villain and switching to the gluten-free diet. By 2010, the diet had become a fad, with celebrities making the switch, and more people than ever going gluten-free despite experts saying gluten-free isn't good for everyone.
What CAN'T You Eat on the Diet?
If you are going gluten-free, some foods you should absolutely eliminate from your diet are gluten-containing grains like most bread, crackers, and wraps, condiments such as barbecue and soy sauce, baked goods (pastries, pancakes, pretzels, etc.), wheat-based pasta, snack foods (granola bars, energy bars, cookies, etc.), certain beverages such as beer and premade coffee, several processed foods, and so much more. Of course, there are gluten-free versions of most of these items which are usually safe to eat. Eating gluten for someone who may have a sensitivity could cause a multitude of reactions including, but not limited to, bloating, gas, upset stomach, headaches, skin problems, feeling tired, depression, and more.
But it doesn’t end there. There are so many items that you wouldn’t expect that contain gluten. A great example of this is chips. Most chips are made from corn or gluten which are both naturally gluten-free, but the added preservatives and ingredients can make this tasty snack dangerous.
Well Then, What CAN You Eat?
Although this diet may seem difficult, it’s actually become easier than ever to recreate gluten-free versions of your favorite dishes. 3.1 million people across the United States follow a gluten-free diet, whether by choice or not. This number has nearly tripled since 2009. That being said, you can find all sorts of copycat recipes online and especially on Pinterest. If you're not the greatest cook, there are options for you too.
Typically speaking, most fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meats are gluten-free, but you still want to check the label to make sure. At the bottom, below the nutrition facts, you will often find an allergen warning. There, it will list if there is any wheat or gluten in the item.
In previous years, you’d have to go to a smaller grocery store to find a few gluten-free options (that were ridiculously expensive), but now you can find almost anything you need at any large grocery store. Brands like Amy’s, Evol, Annie’s, Barilla, and even Pillsbury sell tons of delicious things at an affordable price.
My Gluten-Free Journey
My decision to go gluten-free came from a multitude of things. I struggle with weight gain from my PCOS and skin inflammation from my eczema. A 2013 study found that among 149 participants, 80% saw an improvement in their eczema symptoms when following a hypoallergenic diet (which included cutting out gluten). On top of all that I went to a holistic doctor who believed I had gluten sensitivity and recommended I eliminate it from my diet.
Going gluten-free was extremely difficult for me as someone who loves pasta and bread, but it wasn’t impossible. In fact, I noticed a lot of changes in my body and also my mind.
I went gluten-free for about a year and over the course of that time I lost weight, my skin cleared up, my mood was significantly better, any previous stomach issues I had went away, and I found myself feeling less groggy and tired after meals.
What I Ate...
I did so much research before I began my journey and still had no idea where to start. I’m not going to lie, it started off with a LOT of salads. I was terrified I was going to hate everything so there was a time period where I just ate salad non-stop. Eating lettuce over and over again gets really boring real fast.
That’s when I discovered gluten-free types of pasta and bread. An added bonus is that most meats, rice, and cheeses are gluten-free which meant taco bowls for days. I even started inviting friends over for dinner and cooking gluten-free for them, as well. They never even noticed a difference!
Many fast-food restaurants offer gluten-free options as well. In-N-Out offers protein style where the burger is on a lettuce bun, and Chick-fil-A has grilled items as well as a gluten-free bun option.
At the end of the day, going gluten-free wasn’t as impossible as I imagined. Sometimes all it takes is asking for a gluten-free menu or option.
I hope this brought you some clarity and understanding on a gluten-free diet and what it looks like for a carb lover. At the end of the day, remember that there's a way to still enjoy everything you currently love on a gluten-free diet! That being said, never do a diet because you feel forced to. Just because celebrities or people on social media are doing it doesn't mean you have to as well. You know your body best, so do what's best for it!
So you want to go gluten-free but have no idea what that means.ipes in the comments below. We can’t wait to see what your transformation looks like!