The gluten-free diet has recently become extremely popular. When you walk the aisles of the grocery store today, more and more, you see foods labelled “gluten-free.” While this is great news for those who cannot consume gluten for health reasons, many people who are buying these products do not have a health condition like celiac disease. Many people have misconceptions about eating gluten free that we would like to address in this blog.
Misconceptions about gluten-free diets
Not eating gluten is inherently healthier
While people with celiac disease or a sensitivity to gluten should avoid it, a gluten-free diet isn’t inherently healthier than one with gluten. The healthiness of a gluten-free diet is dependent on what you choose to eat. If you are only choosing red meat and gluten-free baked goods, it doesn’t matter that your diet doesn’t have gluten: it is high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and calories. Also, many gluten-free alternatives are lower in vitamins such as folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and iron, because many processed whole-grain foods are enriched with these vitamins, unlike their gluten-free equivalents. Just because a food is gluten-free, doesn’t mean that it is healthier.
A gluten-free diet = a low-carb diet
Many people confuse gluten with carbohydrates. They believe that adopting a gluten-free diet automatically means adopting a low-carb diet. However, there are many gluten-free products (particularly the processed ones) that are high-carb. In fact, gluten-free bread is often higher in carbs than regular bread. Do not assume that just because something is gluten-free, it is low in carbohydrates.
Not eating gluten is better for your stomach
This is true, but only if you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. If you don’t have either of these conditions, removing gluten from your diet will have no effect on your digestion. This misconception may come from the experience of people with these conditions. If you are concerned about your digestion, it is better to consult with a doctor about your specific symptoms instead of assuming that gluten is the culprit and removing it from your diet.
Gluten-free diets are expensive
It’s true that processed gluten-free alternatives are generally more expensive than their gluten equivalents. However, you do not need to load your diet with these processed foods; in reality, you should not, but instead, opt for naturally gluten-free foods. Whole foods such as lean poultry, seafood, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables are all gluten-free and inexpensive.
Eating gluten-free will help me lose weight
Adopting a gluten-free diet in itself will not help you lose weight. People do sometimes lose weight when they stop eating gluten, but this has to do with an improvement in the overall health of their diets, not the lack of gluten. For example, someone who was eating pastas, breads, and baked goods with gluten will lose weight if they adopt a diet with lean meats, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables because they are cutting so many processed foods out of their diet. Gluten does not make you gain weight; processed, unhealthy foods that are high in carbohydrates and saturated fats do. If you want to lose weight, speak with your physician about changes to can make to your diet.
Symptoms of celiac disease
Sometimes, people adopt gluten-free diets before speaking to their doctors because they believe that they may have undiagnosed celiac disease. Symptoms of celiac disease include abdominal pain, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and malnutrition; however, some people experience no symptoms. If you suspect that you have celiac disease or intolerance, it is essential that you see a medical professional for a diagnosis. A doctor at our men’s health clinic can help you determine the cause of your symptoms, and the best course of action for treatment.
The bottom line
While eating gluten-free is important for those who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it is not necessary for those who do not. If you want to eat healthier, adopt a diet of whole, unprocessed foods instead of worrying about gluten, unless you have a reason to believe that you have celiac disease, in which case, speak with a medical professional. If you need guidance on eating healthier and losing weight, contact our men’s health clinic in Tucson. We can help with medical weight loss management or nutritional counseling. Call us today to schedule an appointment!