As I stroll through the grocery store, I see more and more foods that are labelled gluten free. Since my daughter is gluten intolerant, I see this as a good thing for the most part. Gluten is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts and triticale. It’s often used as a food additive as a flavoring, stabilizing or thickening agent, often called “dextrin”. When you hear of someone who cannot have gluten, they are generally either gluten intolerant or have Celiac’s disease. Gluten can cause irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, tingling, fatigue, muscle pain, skin rashes, joint pain, and other symptoms.
Gluten Free Diet
Like any other diet, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. Not all products that are labelled gluten free are actually good for you. Many gluten free products have added fat and sugar to make up for the taste and texture difference that occurs when you remove the gluten. Take a look at this meal:
2 poached eggs, 2 strips of bacon, 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 slices of traditional white bread
The 2 slices of traditional white bread have 145 calories in them and 1.6 grams of fat.
Now compare it to this meal:
2 poached eggs, 2 strips of bacon, 1 tablespoon of butter, 2 slices of gluten free bread (French Meadow Multi-grain bread)
The 2 slices of gluten free bread have 300 calories and 9 grams of fat.
You can see that consistently replacing traditional baked goods with gluten free baked goods can be a problem if you’re not careful.
Consider this breakfast instead:
2 poached eggs, 2 strips of bacon, one cup of gluten free oatmeal with sliced strawberries
One cup of oatmeal has 147 calories and 2.3 grams of fat. A cup of strawberries has 46 calories and no fat.
Choosing foods that are naturally gluten free will most of the time result in less fat and calories than purchasing boxed mixes and pre-made gluten free baked goods.
There are also many products that fall into the junk food category that are gluten free. While you can certainly be gluten free eating potato chips and candy bars instead of a cookie, it won’t be the healthy way to remove gluten from your diet. A better way would be to substitute something naturally gluten free like fruit, cheese, vegetable sticks, nuts, or yogurt instead.
If you need to remove gluten from your diet, it is far better (health wise) to search out naturally gluten free products rather than purchasing products that have been processed to remove the gluten. It’s certainly alright to splurge occasionally on processed gluten free food but relying on them too heavily can be unhealthy and result in weight gain. Have you tried to follow a gluten free diet? What’s your biggest challenge?