A gluten-free diet is one of the most buzzed-about diets. Although less than one percent of Americans suffer from celiac disease and have to eat gluten-free food, people are ditching gluten for other reasons. One in every five Americans tries to eat gluten-free meals and one in six keeps away from it altogether.
Many rumors swirl around this diet: most people eat gluten-free meals because they are healthier or cause weight loss. However, none of those things has been proven as true. In fact, if you eat this diet too much, it might lead to weight gain.
What does a gluten-free diet consist of?
Surprisingly, this diet is similar to traditional healthy diets. You just have to fill your plate with naturally wholesome foods that are gluten-free: nuts, fish, fruits, veggies, and seeds. If you love eating grains, you can still consume them; many people think that a gluten-free diet does not contain grains, but you can find many gluten-free grains out there.
You can easily find gluten-free pasta that is made out of quinoa, beans, or corn. If you eat a balanced meal, you do not have to worry about nutritional deficiencies. However, if you suffer from celiac disease, your body will not absorb all nutrients, and you might have a problem.
Most celiac sufferers have fiber, iron, vitamin D, and protein deficiencies.
Mistakes made when starting gluten-free diets
If you do not come up with a diet plan, it will be easy to go for gluten-free packaged foods. Once you start eating gluten-free brownies and muffins thrice a day, you will be consuming refined grains that are high in sugar and contain more calories. This might result in excessive weight gain, which is not good for you.
Where gluten hides
Gluten can be found in several different foods because companies use gluten in various ways. Therefore, if you want to eat a gluten-free meal, you have to start playing detective. For instance, before you buy a muffin, you have to ensure that gluten free flour was used to make it.
Although food companies are required to list allergens on their labels, they do not have to do the same when it comes to gluten. This means that even if you see ‘gluten-free’ on a package, you still need to read the ingredient label, especially if you suffer from celiac disease; moreover, it is not enough if the label says ‘wheat-free.’
You need to be on the lookout for rye, wheat, oats, malt, barley, and brewer’s yeast. Gluten free flours such as amaranth and millet need to be certified as gluten-free. If you are not familiar with a certain ingredient on the list, you should wait until you can confirm what it is.
Although you might know that whole-wheat bagels are free of gluten, you might be surprised to know that your other favorite foods are not. Look out for flavored chips and nuts because their seasoning might contain gluten.
Eating at gluten-free restaurants
Now that you know how to pick foods to eat, you should try eating at restaurants. However, you need to be comfortable with asking many questions: for instance, you should ask whether a dressing is made in-house or bottled. If bottled, it might have gluten and if it is homemade, make sure that you ask about the ingredients.
Having a gluten-free menu makes it easier. However, you should know that they are not always reliable. To be on the safe side, ask if your eggs were cooked in the same pan as pancakes, which can lead to cross-contamination. This will prevent you from eating gluten accidentally.