You’ve seen it all over the place. The words “Gluten Free” are popping up all over supermarkets. What’s the deal with gluten, anyway? And why are so many people eliminating it from their diets?
Gluten is a mixture of proteins that is present in a lot of the foods we eat, especially breads, pastas, cereals, and other products containing wheat. Gluten helps dough rise and keep its shape while cooking.
A common reason for following a gluten free diet is gluten intolerance, as in patients with Celiac’s Disease. However, many people have begun to avoid gluten even without a medical reason to do so.
Why? Well, a “gluten free” way of living has recently become associated with increased health. According to One Green Planet, there are five main health benefits of ditching gluten:
1. Increased consumption of antioxidants and vitamins
We are all guilty of indulging a bit too much on nutrient-lacking snacks from time to time. But, if you decide to follow a gluten free diet, processed snacks are out. This forces you to replace those empty calories with some healthy fruits and veggies, which will provide your body with more of the good stuff!
2. Makes losing weight easier.
Since processed carbs are out of the picture, a gluten free diet means you must eliminate a lot of your typical forms of carbs. Now, I’m not saying that carbs are bad for you, because they’re not. In fact, they are an essential part of your diet. But, excess carbs means more calories, which means weight gain. By eliminating the “excess starch” from your diet, you may shed a few pounds and discover more nutritious and healthy forms of carbs (yams are gluten free…wink wink).
3. It helps with digestion.
We will only talk about this briefly because it’s gross. But, the elimination of gluten has been linked to a reduction of bloating, gas, and diarrhea!
4. More energy!
This one is interesting. Apparently, vitamins and minerals from the healthy foods you eat may be lost when these foods are paired with gluten! This causes a lack of certain vitamins, thus causing a lack of energy! Many people have claimed that they feel much more energized after giving up gluten. Some have even been able to give up coffee (I don’t see how this could be possible 😉 )
5. Finally, you’ll discover endless alternatives
You can switch out that rice and bread with quinoa or potatoes! Instead of pasta, you could try spaghetti squash! I’m getting exciting just thinking about the possibilities!! (Hold on while I follow the gluten free board on Pinterest).
The biggest misconception I can see with gluten free, though, is that people will fail to eat the foods they should be eating in order to reap the full benefits of this diet. By merely substituting regular bread or pasta with “gluten free” versions, I don’t think you are seeing the true purpose of giving up gluten, which is to avoid processed foods. Instead, substitute these things with one ingredient foods, like fruits, vegetables, quinoa, nuts, etc!
Personally, I’m not totally willing to give up gluten. Although I am going to eat more “one ingredient” foods and less starches, I am NOT going to say goodbye entirely. I believe in balance! Just like with everything, moderation is key. And breads and pastas aren’t necessarily bad for you! There’s just a healthier way to eat, and that would be avoiding all processed foods.
There are always going to be ways in which you can improve your diet. Just try to stick to the basics and eat clean as much as possible!
How about you?
- Anyone follow a gluten free diet? Have you noticed any benefits?
- What’s your favorite type of salad (egg salad, tuna salad, etc.)