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Gluten Free or Healthy? Why Not Have Both!

In the media, grocery stores, magazines and even T.V. shows gluten free has become all the rage. Singers, actresses and even doctors are on board. But why? Because it is healthier? Think again. It is important to know that there is a difference between being gluten free and healthy.

First, we’ll break down the concept that eating gluten free is automatically healthier and explain why this is not the case. Then we’ll explain where this perception came from and lastly we will tell you how to live a gluten free lifestyle in a healthy way, if in fact it’s right for you.

So, one does not classify the other, in other words, eating gluten free does not mean that you are eating a healthier diet. There are ways to be healthier while eating a gluten free diet but this involves eating clean, fresh ingredients, avoiding processed sugars and carbohydrates and watching portion sizes not just eating anything labeled GF off the grocery store shelf.

The perception of eating gluten free to be healthy came up this past year as one of the newest, widely used fad diets. But why? Because some people tried it, said they lost weight and felt good, and then it was recommended to you? I suggest that at this very moment, you decide what made you think about or try a gluten free diet and then read carefully: Only 1% of the population has actually been estimated to have celiac disease and on the other hand only 6% have been estimated to have non celiac gluten intolerance. So how do we spend over 6 billion dollars on gluten free products a year? Eating gluten free is “healthier right?” So with that being said, listen to this: 46% of that 6 billion dollars is being spent on confectionary products and another 20% is being spent on processed snacks. The kicker is that the biggest motivation behind buying gluten free products was said to be that it was healthier. . .how is buying confectionary and processed foods healthier?

The perception of a gluten free diet being a healthier option comes mostly from the same place all the other diets come from: the media. I realize as busy individuals and families we don’t always have the time to research and look into something that sounds too good to be true. And that’s why I am here to help you now. It is important to know the in’s and out’s of a gluten free diet and how it can work for you if it’s right.

Gluten free means eliminating anything containing or made from wheat, barley or rye. For anyone with diagnosed celiac disease, you know this is not always an easy feat. Buying anything processed becomes an issue, eating out is nearly impossible and forget family or social dinners when you aren’t the one cooking! Nearly all processed foods contain one of or a combination of these ingredients. Now, you are probably thinking well if it is processed and labeled gluten free, why can’t I eat it? I’m not saying you can’t eat it, I just want you to think about a few things before you stock your pantry with gluten free items.

Gluten is a protein found in most baked goods and bread products. This protein creates elasticity in yeast dough’s and breads and allows the dough to stretch when gases are released from the yeast, giving it that chewy, moist, airy texture. Without this gluten, the dough does not rise and most products result in a dry, crumbly and dense product. To counteract this gluten free issue another ingredient is added: this being fat. If you read the label on your favorite gluten free product and compare it to that of a non gluten free product you will probably find that calorie wise it is similar and the fat content of the gluten free product is at least slightly higher. So tell me again, why is the gluten free product healthier? I’d like a valid explanation of this.

I can understand your disappointment in reading this but I can tell you from experience, eating gluten free doesn’t have to be full of processed foods to be easy, fast or healthy. The best way for you to be nutritionally balanced while being gluten free is to eat fresh, raw ingredients and grains that you have prepared yourself. There are options such as gluten free oatmeal or quinoa that you can cook up for breakfast with your favorite fruit, some organic plain yogurt and a drizzle of honey or how about a quinoa salad packed with vegetables and your favorite vinaigrette for lunch. Dinner can be as simple as grilled fish, green veggies and a baked sweet potato. All this delicious whole food at a small, satisfying price.

Eating gluten free doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Just remember that getting tested for gluten sensitivities is the best way to determine if it is necessary for you to avoid it. Also remember that eating gluten free off the shelf is not healthier than eating good whole and organic foods.

For more information about being tested for gluten sensitivity and living a gluten free life, please feel free to contact us at any time. We’d love to hear from you!

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