I feel really happy knowing that so many more people are becoming focused on their overall health and well-being.
Along with this shift I see scores of people flocking to try a gluten-free lifestyle and while I truly believe that every individual is different I think that most will find their body’s function better, they feel clearer in mind and less bloated when adopting a gluten-free diet.
Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.
Who shouldn’t eat gluten.
Those who suffer from coeliac disease (a condition where the body reacts badly to gluten), and those that are severley gluten intolerant will need to completely remove gluten from their diets or risk falling ill very quickly.
Children and adults suffering from attention related disorders and autism may find that along with cleaning dairy, sugar and preservatives from their diets, they are able to cure or vastly reduce the symptoms of these conditions by taking gluten out of their diets as well.
Where is it going wrong?
Where we are seeing a failing in the health of people going gluten-free is where clever marketing allows companies to display a dishonest indication of the health of the food people buy through tricks and gimmicks in advertising and packaging.
We are being led by marketing and food manufacturers to believe that by eating the same style diet that has caused us obesity, illness and fogginess – large heavy meals of bread and pasta, biscuits, cakes etc – and simply switching to the new gluten-free brands of the same type of food, that we will see an increased level of health in the consumer. Gluten-free spaghetti, bread, biscuits, cakes and slices are all being marketed as healthy choices.
Supermarkets are stocking metres of their store aisles with their new gluten-free ranges, typically right next to the health food section.
Interestingly, many of the products stocked in these ranges would have no gluten in them traditionally anyway. A jar of jam for example marked ‘gluten-free’. Well Jam has always been made of fruit, sugar and water…so it shouldn’t have gluten in it to begin with. A company marks it gluten-free, then a none-the-wiser consumer believes it to be healthier and pays an extra dollar for each jar.
Not all foods labelled gluten-free are bad for you, however, most gluten-free versions of traditionally gluten filled foods are only parts of ‘real’ food, or are packed with artificial ingredients created to make them seem, feel or taste like the original.
The #1 switcharoo in gluten-free foods is made with starch. Your gluten-free pasta will more than likely be made entirely of potato or corn starch which can block your digestive system and make you feel sluggish. Starch is only part of a total carbohydrate (as well as sugars and fibre) and is not a whole food.
Starch will raise your blood sugar level the same way that sugar will and eating a lot of starchy foods will create changing variations in your blood sugar levels. This makes them rise and fall quickly and leads you to feel hunger, fatigue and cravings more easily, which may result in you overeating.
Starch and your weight
Eating too much starch can lead to weight gain in a similar way that sugar will and can be highly addictive. Eating a bowl of starch will spike your blood insulin levels in the same manner as sugar and activate your cravings and a feeling of ’emptiness’ soon after eating.
The best gluten-free diet
If you are not suffering from a gluten intolerance it may still the best decision for you to cut gluten in your diet, for increased energy, stamina, vitality and wellbeing.
The best way to do this is to fill up on whole-foods, as close to their natural state as you can get and to steer clear of copy-cat foods.
There are some fantastic options out there for you before you reach for a box of ‘fake’ food. Grain-like seeds such as quinoa, buckwheat, or amaranth are all gluten-free & delicious for making adding to salads, making breakfast porridge, or putting your curry, stew or pasta sauce on.
All are high in protein for sustained energy and recovery and are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are also all whole foods. Fill your plate with plant foods and these super whole foods thrown in for long-lasting energy and you can’t go wrong.
Trust less what’s printed on the front of the label (this is psychological food-warfare at it’s best) and more what you read in the ingredients panel.