Should You Go on a Gluten-Free Diet?
For almost a decade now, many people are taking away gluten from their diet, not because they have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, but because they hope to lose a few pounds.
Even some restaurants, including Pizza Hut, have joined the gluten-free bandwagon. That is real good news for people with celiac disease. But as for people, in general, they probably wouldn’t mind trying out this special option on the menu.
Going gluten free, however, doesn’t help in weight loss. It also doesn’t add any extra benefit for you unless you are gluten intolerant.
What is a Gluten-Free Diet?
Gluten is the protein that is present in cereals, such as wheat, barley and rye. A diet that is gluten-free is prescribed for individuals who have the celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
The symptoms of gluten sensitivity include gastrointestinal distress, skin rashes and joint pain. Some people may not know that they are sensitive to gluten because they have not been diagnosed with the condition. But when they do not include gluten in their diet, they feel a lot better.
If you want to know if you’re sensitive to gluten, you only need to have a simple blood test. But you must take this test prior to switching to a gluten-free diet, because the testing will not give a positive result when you are already on a restricted gluten-free diet.
People need to know whether going gluten-free is a must for them, because there are pros and cons when you are into this diet.
Pros of the Gluten-free Diet
If you’re gluten sensitive, you will finally be relieved from the symptoms after going gluten-free.
You will find many alternative whole-grain foods that are both gluten-free and healthful, such as quinoa, millet, amaranth and rice.
The gluten-free flours are nutritionally better than bleached, white flour. Try flours made from almonds, quinoa and beans.
Cons of the Gluten-free Diet
Pre-packaged gluten-free food products may not provide the same vitamins and minerals that wheat-based products do, which may possibly result in nutrient deficiency.
It takes more effort in reading the labels and asking about the contents of packaged foods and medications just to ensure they are gluten-free.
It does not necessarily help in losing weight, so if that’s your reason for going gluten-free, you might want to reconsider and just go low-carb.
It’s possible to gain weight when eating the alternative gluten-free processed snack foods, such as breads and cookies, if intake is not moderated.
Some Helpful Tips on Cooking Gluten-Free Foods
Know the Basics
If you want your family to go gluten-free, you need to make sure that you don’t include gluten-containing ingredients, such as wheat, rye and barley, in the bread, pasta and other dishes you prepare. Some people also exclude oats from their meals. Don’t forget that you should not include soy sauce, malt or beer as well. Also, watch out for the health supplements that may contain gluten.
Take extra care
It’s not easy to maintain a gluten-free diet because cross-contamination can occur when cooking. So take care whenever you prepare your dishes.
Don’t use the cooking utensils you used for preparing food with gluten for cooking gluten-free foods. Cross-contamination happens in the same way when pre-packaged gluten-free foods are processed using facilities for making foods with gluten. So, if you’re preparing some gluten-free pasta and regular pasta at the same time, don’t use the same strainer or pasta tongs for both.
Prepare simple meals
Simple means easier preparation. Try making a gluten-free dish by combining meat and quinoa or rice along with fresh vegetables.
Here are other interesting alternative gluten-free foods you can prepare in your kitchen so you can avoid buying the gluten-free processed snacks and restaurant meals.
Chicken soup with cabbage
Indian lentils with spinach
Acorn squash bisque
Peanut butter cookies, that is, if you are not allergic to peanuts
Cake using gluten-free flour, such as almond flour
Photo credits: Gluten free mix by theimplusivebuy via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0