The “gluten-free” label is everywhere – celebrities claim it, restaurants provide it, and grocery stores sell it. Everybody’s talking gluten-free. Why? For some it’s a health diagnosis, for others it’s a fad. What’s really behind the diet that makes bread a thing of the past?
Gluten intolerance causes intestinal distress when you eat foods containing wheat, rye or barley. People who have an auto-immune response to those grains that damages the intestines actually have celiac disease.
Once a diagnosis of celiac disease is confirmed, the experts are clear: the treatment is to never eat gluten. As ThedaCare registered dietitian Angelica Gronke said, “It’s not gluten every once in a while, or gluten sometimes. It’s gluten-free. Period.”
Beware the Fad
Celebrities say that avoiding gluten is their key to weight loss. Don’t fall for that. A true gluten-free diet is prescribed for those diagnosed with celiac disease or diagnosed gluten intolerance. While you can lose weight by cutting back on carbs, you can also lose important nutrients common in enriched grains if you are not educated about the gluten-free diet.
Angelica noted that a change from refined grains to whole grains like quinoa and triticale that are more filling is a healthy move – whether you need to eat gluten-free or not.
A gluten-free diet doesn’t have to be boring. “If you cannot eat gluten, you can still eat what you love. It just has to be gluten-free,” said Angelica. “You have to plan ahead. Focus on foods you can eat, not on what you can’t. Years ago there used to be only five to six gluten-free products, and now there are aisles full.”
Local grocery stores and restaurants offer gluten-free products, and many foods are made without gluten. Bread, however, is one of the most challenging to replicate without wheat flour. “You can make many gluten-free desserts and entrees,” Angelica said. “Unfortunately, bread is harder.”
Find gluten-free store locations and recipes at: www.thedacare.org/glutenfree