Eating gluten-free makes sense for the estimated 15 percent of the population who suffer from gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Gluten, the glue that holds bread mixtures together, is detrimental to their health.
But what about people who are following gluten-free diets out of choice, rather than necessity, because they believe it will lead to weight loss? Eating gluten-free is the latest fad diet, spurred on by celebrity endorsements and rumors it is low fat or low carb.
The truth is that gluten-free diets, that rely on processed foods, are not low in anything, whether you are talking fat, calories, sugar, carbohydrates or even cost. It is much easier to gain weight rather than lose when eating gluten-free products, such as breads, pastas, crackers and baked goods.
Those who do lose weight on any kind of diet have better results if they eliminate refined carbohydrates and stick to whole foods, such as veggies, fruit, lean protein and grains. Many of the alternative flours and thickeners used in gluten-free products are simple carbohydrates that are high in calories, and lack fiber and protein.
I am gluten intolerant and found out the hard way how easy it is to gain weight when you are eating foods that you believe are healthy because they are “safe” for you. My experience taught me to be wary of processed gluten-free products.
If you must eat gluten-free, here are some common ingredients, founds in gluten-free products, that you should avoid as much as possible:
•Tapioca starch- high in carbohydrates with no nutritional value. For some individuals, it is difficult to digest.
•Potato starch- a thickener with no nutritional value.
•White rice flour- high in calories, carbohydrates and devoid of nutrition.
Better choices for those following a gluten-free diet:
•Garbanzo bean flour
•Amaranth grain or flour
•Oat flour made from gluten-free oats
Even better choices:
•Lean meat or soy
•Dairy or alternative dairy beverages