It sounds good…anything with the word “FREE” at the end of it seems like the best choice right? Fat-Free, Dairy Free, Gluten, Wheat, Soy, Nut, GMO, Nitrate, and Taste-Free:)!
Let me start out saying that I am NOT in any way against being gluten-free!! In fact, I am all for anything that makes you feel better on the inside and out and I do believe that this choice is best if you understand why you are doing.
Before you decide to take gluten (or anything other than added sugar) out of your diet, know a few things:
1. What it is! too many people choose gluten-free because others are doing it and the new GF labels on food help make it so easy to do. Don’t get caught unable to answer the simple question of what gluten is:
- Gluten (from Latin gluten, “glue“) is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. (From Wikipedia)
- It is NOT an added carbohydrate, fat, or substance that removes extra calories from food or makes them better for you.
2. WHY you are doing it. Unless you have celiac disease (which you would know and have no reason to read this post except to send to your friends that think you have found a new disease they wish they had because you lost some weight!) then you might try to take gluten out of your diet for other reasons. This decision should be part of what is called the elimination diet, removing allergens (or toxic substances) from your entire diet for at least 2 weeks. This is done to help determine if some of these foods types are the cause of symptom you might experience regularly (not every once in a while) like bloating, weight gain, chronic inflammation, IBS, lethargy, skin irritation, etc. Read more about it and give it a try if you are intrigued…I have read a lot lately about kids and gluten so maybe you think about someone else around you that needs this!
3. HOW to do it right. Please don’t assume that gluten-free is your ticket to weight loss. This is the biggest mistake most people make when they follow a trend and right now gluten-free is trendy because marketers have made it look cool to choose this option at the grocery stores. We are smarter than that aren’t we?? However, if you follow these tips for removing gluten from your diet you will experience weight loss naturally but notice the first tip (the one most people abuse).
- Don’t stock up on gluten-free breads, pasta, chips, and muffins! Instead, go ahead and remove these from your diet as well, it could be the added refined/processed sugars that you have a hard time with:) Those are still present in GF foods and will still cause weight gain when over eaten! You may find some great GF options after a couple of weeks that are lower in sugar than their counterparts but keep it under control still. It’s moderation, not elimination, that results in weight loss and weight maintenance.
- What do you eat? Try the produce section!!! What if you started to see labels on fresh vegetables and fruit that said “Gluten Free”.? They would be able to stop there, every single label (except GMO maybe) from above would have to be on it and it would cover the whole food! It’s called eating from the earth and its the best choice to make 80% of the time (or more).
- Don’t avoid gluten “for the most part”! If gluten is the cause of some painful or irritating symptoms, you can’t avoid it sometimes and deal with it the others unless you accidentally eat it. If you truly need to be gluten-free, you need to try to do it 100%. If there isn’t anything for you to eat at the restaurant or party…don’t eat.
My personal choice:
I have avoided Gluten for over a year and will never add it back to my diet. My reason for this is personal and TMI for most people;). I could keep my weight in check and feel great without being “gluten-free” (GF) as well. I help people get to a place where they feel good on the inside and out and sometimes I encourage people to keep gluten out of their diet as well. I don’t think it is THE way to eat or be, it is all a personal choice.
Lastly, a few pointers for taking your health under control but still being able to live life with others not as concerned or irritated by gluten!
- Don’t talk about your gluten-free lifestyle every time you get around food & friends! It should be a personal choice that doesn’t make you any better, healthier, or more knowledgeable about food than anyone else.
- Don’t stare at non-GF options at a party, on a menu, or at the office with a stressed out look like “no one cares about me and what I can eat!”. You are right, they don’t!! And they don’t need to so if this is a choice you are making, be prepared to run into a situation where you have no other option but to dive in or go without.
- Don’t bring a GF dish to a non-GF hosted party and go on and on about how your’s is GF and “still tastes so great!”. Unless someone is GF, they don’t have to seek out the good tasting GF foods like you do so they really don’t appreciate this amazing discovery or creation you have made:)
- On that note…don’t go crazy on gluten-free blogs and start baking a million desserts or dishes that you wouldn’t eat otherwise because they are gluten-free! it can take over your life and then you become that GF Freak that lives and breathes something you don’t eat anymore!
The Take Away: Healthy is as personal as the party you vote for, the religion you believe, in and the wine you prefer:) Get healthy however that looks for you and if it includes being gluten-free, do it right. If you aren’t gluten-free, understand why people do it and have some grace, it’s not always because it is trendy.
To each his/her own and here’s to #MakingHealthyHappen!
Cara Weaver, @Caraweaver10