Going Gluten-Free? Be Careful!

If you have decided to live a gluten-free lifestyle, you are in good company.  Many Americans are reducing the gluten in their diets these days and for a lot of different reasons.  Some are doing it because they have a confirmed diagnosis of the autoimmune disease called Celiac disease.  Some have found that they are simply sensitive to gluten and that it is exacerbating many of their health problems while others are finding that reducing and eliminating gluten aids them in weight or fat loss, reducing general inflammation and improves their athletic performance.

And then there are those people that are learning the simple yet hidden truth that NO ONE should be consuming modern-day gluten due to the health problems it causes in just about the entire population.  


What the heck is gluten? 

Gluten is a protein found in certain grains such as wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and semolina.  It not only gives baked goods their characteristic texture and chewiness, but it is also used in the processing of many other foods to add thickness, flavor and added protein.  

If someone has Celiac disease, they have a condition in which the body experiences an immune reaction when gluten is eaten.  The result is damage to the inside of the small intestine, which impairs absorption of nutrients.  Gluten sensitivity is different in that the reaction to gluten is less severe and less damaging to the small intestine, but physical symptoms are still present, such as nutritional deficiencies, gastrointestinal difficulties, headaches and more.  In spite of their differences, both conditions are treated by removing gluten from the diet.

It is not just those who have a diagnosed sensitivity to gluten who are removing it from their diets, though.  Many healthy and well-informed folks are reducing gluten, usually because they are interested in reducing starchy carbohydrates in their diets.  Most breads, pastas and baked goods contain these  carbohydrates because they contain wheat and/or other grains which mostly contain modern-day gluten.

If you are interested in lowering your starchy carbohydrate intake, going gluten-free can be a good start because it gets you reading labels and exploring different foods and ingredients you may not have considered consuming before especially if you were following the SAD (Standard American Diet).  But, as proper nutrition dictates, the ultimate goal of your dietary intake is to support your individualized metabolism with as few grains as your individual metabolic type requires enabling your fat stores to be utilized and depended on most effectively.  For some people that means going completely grain-free.  Your individual metabolic type and needs don’t take into account any current health conditions you may be experiencing so in addition to providing your metabolism what it needs, your health conditions will also dictate more specific adjustments until ideally the root of your health problems are fully identified and addressed.  

Many people these days are trying to go gluten-free by simply exchanging gluten-full foods with gluten-free foods.  The problem is that gluten-free processed foods like baked goods, breads, pastas, cookies, etc. are very high in sugar and often more carbohydrates than the original product choice.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that gluten-free means carb-free or carb-less.  Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.  This is where reading the food label and knowing what to look for becomes the key to your food choosing power!  

It is tempting to think that because a cracker or brownie is gluten-free that you can eat as many as you want.  You can’t.  Those crackers and brownies are likely to still be very high in carbohydrates and calories, as well as other unhealthy ingredients, including sugar.  When you eat these foods, you are simply trading one carbohydrate source for another and often times this is not ideal for any type of metabolism or health goal. 

When you remove wheat from your diet, many folks feel deprived and think that they have “fewer choices” when it comes to carbohydrates because the SAD (Standard American Diet) is so very high in gluten-containing grains.  And the dependency on all of these grain-based carbohydrates has skyrocketed our ability to control our blood sugar, hormone balance, weight, brain and gut function and more.  Modern-day gluten-containing foods have made us incredibly sick and fat over the last 60 years and it’s only getting worse relative to our population as a whole. 

So when you begin eliminating gluten from your diet, this is the perfect opportunity to learn just how many more foods are readily available to you that don’t contain gluten.  This enhances your food source variety and your digestive system absolutely LOVES that!  

Despite believing that you have “fewer choices” you actually have many more choices.  They just happen to be real food choices and not fake or Frankenfoods (processed foods).

With the explosion of interest in gluten-free products, the popularity of the paleolithic diet and the real food movement food manufacturers/producers have stepped up their production of available foods that look, taste and feel like traditional, gluten-containing foods, but are in fact, gluten-free or grain-free.  From bread to cinnamon rolls to pasta, there is a gluten-free food to satisfy nearly any craving you might have. 

Your best defenses are to be informed and become aware.  

  1. Know what you are eating – read food labels, ask questions from your server or chef when you go out or at your local grocer where you shop for food  
  2. Check the carbohydrate and sugar content.  The fewer sugars vs. carbohydrates is typically a good rule of thumb to stick with when starting out with a gluten-free diet.
  3. Stay on the lookout for foods that are both low in carbohydrates and free of gluten but are also free of toxic chemical sweeteners and of course sugar itself.  


Interested in learning more about living gluten-free?  Then check out my book How to Master The Art of Going Gluten Free or contact me today to learn more about your Metabolic Type or Functional Nutrition to master your body’s need for nourishment in order to optimize your health’s function and athletic performance levels.

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