Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Gluten-Free Does Not = Healthy Eating

Gluten-free is all the rage these days. It is the latest hot ticket item used by food marketers to lure you into buying their products and think you’re making healthy choices. I have seen many restaurants post “gluten-free friendly” on Urbanspoon or gluten-free menus that features a salad, or fries…

Just because it says gluten-free DOES NOT mean it’s automatically healthy. You can still eat a lot of naturally gluten-free, nutrient poor junk food. These foods won’t fill you up and will leave you hungry, tired and irritable. Did I mention that pop, white rice, and sugar are all gluten-free?

The other day I was looking at the website of a well-known gluten-free manufacturer and distributor called Glutino. Since I follow a gluten-free diet (for health reasons in case you were wondering) I wanted to know if they had any products worth buying.. When I finished browsing the website, let’s just say I will never touch any of their foods or bring them into my home.
In literally everyone single one of their products, the first ingredient was potato/corn starch or sugar, even the seemingly healthly sounding multigrain sandwich bread. All of these items cause HUGE blood sugar rushes, insulin levels to soar, followed by a huge crash in blood sugar levels, giving you those afternoon hunger pains, fatigue and increased appetite for more. All in all, replacing whole grains with highly refined starchy ,white gluten free grains is more detrimental than beneficial. Even if that cookie, muffin or granola bar is gluten free, that doesn’t mean its free of empty calories, high fructose corn syrup and other nasty additives/preservatives.

The BEST thing you can do is make your own gluten-free products at home, and READ the labels well when shopping at the grocery store.  The quick and dirty on good gluten-free options include: whole grain brown or black rice, millet, buckwheat grouts, quinoa, flaxseed meal, chia seeds, almond flour (my fav), coconut flour and canned beans and lentils.

Here’s my two cents.
A lot of gluten free products are saviors for people with celiac disease, IBS or gluten sensitivity. If you choose to eat gluten-free, do it for your personal health and digestive system if necessary, NOT because you’re trying to lose weight. This is a lifestyle change that requires some serious research, reading, and cooking adaptations to ensure you are still eating a healthy, balanced diet and not putting yourself at risk for dietary deficiencies. There are PLENTY of health gluten-free alternatives, products and recipes out there, but that is a whole other blog post in itself I will save for another day :)

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