Should I Go Gluten-Free?

Gluten-free products are everywhere. Even big companies such as General Mills Cheerios® have gone gluten-free. Many people may be feeling like this is a diet worth looking into. So it begs the question, should you go gluten-free?

What does gluten-free mean?

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. People that have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should follow a strict gluten-free diet. But many people that do not have issues with gluten have been choosing to remove gluten from their own diets. Most studies on gluten-free diets have been done with celiac patients, so there is not a large amount of evidence on the benefits of a gluten-free diet without celiac, but many people report less bloating, weight loss, and greater energy levels.

“Celiac disease is a condition in which gluten triggers immune system activity that damages the lining of the small intestine. Over time this damage prevents the absorption of nutrients from food. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder.”1

What does a gluten-free diet look like?

Although removing wheat, rye, barley, and sometimes oats (due to the possibility of cross-contamination) may seem difficult, these days because of the popularity of the diet, the products on the market are extensive! From cereals to pasta and even granola bars, you will be able to find most of your favorite foods in gluten-free form.

Allowed foods when on a gluten-free diet include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Unprocessed meat
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Corn and cornmeal flours
  • Millet
  • Rice
  • Soy
  • Quinoa

Eating processed foods is when it can become tricky. Be sure to read boxes and look for the gluten-Free label. When eating out, be sure to discuss your special diet needs with your server. Cooking at home will be the easiest way to avoid cross-contamination as you have control over where you cook and store your foods. Have separate toasters for gluten-free bread and bagels, and store gluten-free foods in their own cupboard.

Carbohydrates and gluten-free diet

As you can see from the list above, many gluten-free products and food choices still contain carbohydrates. Be sure to read labels and monitor portion sizes so that you can continue to keep your blood glucose levels in check. As with any new food, you may notice that your blood glucose levels respond differently than when you ate foods containing gluten. Fiber, as well as other nutrient levels, may differ in gluten-free products and you may need to supplement them in other ways. For example, see if your gluten-free cereal contains as much folate and riboflavin as your gluten-containing cereal did. If it is significantly less, you may want to speak with your physician about ways to balance the diet so that all nutritional needs are met.

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