Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gluten Free Does NOT Equal Healthy

Hello readers,

One of the Administrative Assistants at my job is a baker. In fact, one the worst parts about my celiac disease verdict was that I would never be able to enjoy his tasty treats ever again. So for months, I sat and watched as my co-workers chowed down on sweet goodies. Then, he told me that he could make me a gluten free alternative and he starting doing just that! Soon, the office had both gluten free and regular fudge, cookies, and brownies.

Now let me tell you, they were DELICIOUS! I was soooo happy that I was able to eat pastries again. In fact, I was so happy that I forgot that gluten free desserts are just that...DESSERTS. Just because they do not have gluten in them does not mean that they do not have the same chocolate chips, eggs, oil, and sugar that regular pastries come baked with. Gluten free products were made so that people with  celiac disease/gluten intolerance's do not have to suffer and miss out on the ability to eat desserts. Unfortunately, many people (ahem, dieters) switch to gluten free products because they assume that they are void of all the "bad carbs" in traditional desserts. This logic is faulty because for
many reasons.

1. Gluten free products are NOT carb-free/low carb. Carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet-hence why it is a macronutrient. Since celiac sufferers cannot consume wheat, barley, rye, etc...they HAVE to get their carbohydrate sources from other foods, mainly rice, corn, and potatoes. You are in fact eating carbs when you switch to gluten free, it is just a different type of carbohydrate.
2. Gluten free does not automatically mean better for you. Sure, pizza, hamburgers, and fried chicken are all laced with gluten but most of their gluten free alternatives can be just as unhealthy. Whether you are eating a gluten free or a regular pizza, you are still eating a pizza. Adding pepperoni slices, sausage, and extra cheese to your gluten free crust does not negate ANY calories. You are still getting the saturated fats, cholesterol, and calories from your toppings. What's the solution? Don't eat those counterparts, not only are they not clean but you are tricking yourself into eating false healthy foods.
Here are some of my favorite example of gluten free foods that aren't healthy
gluten free donuts...would you add these
to your healthy diet?
  • Snickers
  • Doritos
  • Cheetos
  • Skittles, Starbursts, Lifesavers, Twizzlers
  • French Fries
  • Baloney
  • Spirits and Wine
Granted, living a gluten free lifestyle can be healthier if you follow a semi-paleo diet. I say semi-paleo because a healthy gluten free lifestyle utilizes potatoes and rice- two starches that most paleos stay away from. (When eating out, celiacs save on calories from not eating bread sticks or the rolls but might order an extra heaping of mashed potatoes)
This is not a rant against gluten free products. In fact, I LOVE gluten free brands such as Lara Bar and Vans (especially the pancakes) but I am trying to tell you, namely non-celiacs- that GF brands does not mean that it automatically health for you.
When you are truly gluten free, you are able to enjoy a wide variety of truly healthy foods. It is extremely difficult at first but after some adjusting (and a kind circle of friends) living a gluten free life can be satisfying. As a celiac, I get to enjoy more vegetables with my meals and can play around with sweet potato recipes. Instead of relying on bread in my sandwiches, lettuce or meat wraps take place. I find that I HAVE to cut out refined and processed foods (since they always contain  some sort of gluten) and can instead focus on eating foods that are delicious and good for me.

*disclaimer, this is not a post against gluten free products or those who responsibly use gluten free products in their diet (i.e pizza, bread, waffles, crackers) it is merely a warning to those who willingly and blindly switch to going gluten free

 -Eating Clean in College

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