So…it’s over between Gluten and I. Well… sort of. Over the years there have been dozens of fad diets that have come and gone. You hear about them through friends, on tv and in magazines. One of the biggest “fads” as of late has been a gluten-free diet for weight loss, but most people don’t know what gluten even is let alone why it might help you shed excess pounds.
Gluten is a protein that is found in many grains like wheat, rye, barley and more! The name gluten itself comes from the Latin word that literally means glue. Yuck! (That’s just what I want, a bunch of glue in my body). Long story short, because of how genetically modified wheat and other grains are in the US, our bodies no longer recognize a once natural part of the grain. Now, when gluten reaches our digestive track our bodies go on the defensive, trying to fight it off like a bacteria, and all that work can destroy our intestinal wall.
Although I have never been officially diagnosed with a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, I am really good at listening to my body. I have suffered from digestive issues my entire life so finally, about a year ago, decided to cut gluten out of my diet. Not as a “diet” in the lose 10 pounds sort of way, but really to see if I noticed any changes. And I did! When I was about 10 I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which along with other things, for me, meant a slow metabolism, general fatigue, chronic digestive issues and headaches. Not only did my digestive issues subside when I ditched gluten, but I also started to notice a decrease in the other symptoms like headaches, fatigue and even allergies. It was pretty crazy.
For the first time in years I think my body could finally relax a bit and it felt great. To really test it out, after a few weeks I began introducing a little gluten back in here and there. It was a great and terrible idea. After the first night, I woke up with belly cramps and a headache. It was like a bad period! Right then and there I knew that, regardless of what people said, gluten, at least in America, was NOT really good for ANYONE. You pretty much only find it in overly processed foods, which should be sign number one. It was hard coming off years of believing I should eat whole wheat everything because Dr.’s said that would help with my digestive issues (which it didn’t). I now finally realized it was just the opposite and was actually probably making my problems worse!
The more I cut the gluten out of my diet the better I felt. Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t start loosing weight like crazy though. Of course if you eat breads and crackers regularly and then cut them out you will most likely lose weight, but that is not necessarily a gluten factor as much as a result of less carbs/sugars. That being said you will likely feel better and be more conscious of the things you are putting into your body. Now don’t get the wrong idea. I’m not the girl who will refuse to eat something made for me at a dinner party or send a meal back because it might have traces of gluten in it. I give props to those people, but it’s just not me. I love going out to eat and socializing way too much to get crazy! At the same time, I do not buy or cook foods with any trace amounts of gluten and when I go out I try to choose options that don’t have glaring gluten such as; breaded items, pastas and creamy dressings or sauces. (Again, these things aren’t healthy choices anyway regardless of your feelings about gluten).
Think what you like about gluten. I too get annoyed by people trying to use it as a new way to seem like they are being uber healthy when out in public, but I’ve gotta say, it can definitely help keep your diet in check. Here is a list of common foods that contain gluten: You tell me if these are healthy or not.
- Pasta Couscous
- Bread Flour
- Cookies Cakes Muffins
So ya…. Maybe it is simply better to try to avoid it. You know what doesn’t have gluten? Real whole foods! Try cooking at home as much as possible using fresh ingredients like chicken, fish, fruits and veggies. Check out some of my recipes for more ideas or grab a copy of the nutrition guide. As you know, I am all about balance. You will find some recipes with options to make it gluten free or visa versa. I know not everyone will agree with living a gluten free lifestyle; it’s not always easy. I do my best to avoid it and realize that a little here and there is better than what I was doing before!