Gluten Free Options Abound - Are They Good For You?

As the wave of gluten free products increases, the options of products readily or easily available grows daily.    The trend has been dubbed by Janet Kline of the Charlotte Celiac Connection, the best support group and Charlotte resource for gluten free living, as the "Gluten Free Revolution". We have made several posts as the GF Revolution continues on, to highlight developments as they happen and to celebrate the victories our community experiences, but with the availability of gluten free products comes some common issues which are not as readily discussed.

The fact is that celiac disease, gluten intolerance and all of the illnesses which spurned the gluten free craze, were triggered by not only genetics or sensitivities, but also by the large consumption of wheat products that Americans have grown to consume. This presents a question: Will products that replace the gluten in our diets begin to cause other illnesses if we are still eating highly processed foods? Could the options cause a large majority of those going gluten free to not lose weight, but to gain weight in an already over weight nation?

When our family first went gluten free, there were not as many options and the alternative to purchasing something readily made was to have to make it from scratch. Because of that, our bread consumption reduced by 3/4. Sweets were hand made and not purchased near as often. There were a hand full of processed snack foods which were gluten free. This made our choices much healthier immediately.

However, we quickly got sucked into the process of finding substitutes for foods missed. Well, who can blame anyone for doing that? You miss the foods you used to eat. It is emotional to have them dangling before your eyes everyday and NOT be able to eat them right? So when your health food store starts carrying frozen versions of doughnuts, cupcakes, cookies, pies, etc., you probably feel a bit like a kid in a candy store once more. The mainstream manufacturers are altering ingredients to make gluten free products too so now your child can have a sugary cereal again, and that's ok as long as it is not the standard purchase every week.

We have had the pleasure of getting to know Mrs. United States 2011, Shannon Ford at the Expos that our family runs across the nation. Mrs. Ford eats a mainly Paleo Diet and is gluten free because she has celiac disease. We have had many discussions over her usually grain free diet and how she feels it has saved her life, but even Shannon admits to occasionally booking a hotel room near Babycakes NYC to go in and indulge in one of their gourmet allergen friendly delights. However, it takes a trip on a plane out of town and a special occasion in order to afford herself the indulgence. This would not be true for about 85% of us who succumb to the indulgence weekly while we stand in our grocery store aisle.

All one has to do is some research into diet related illnesses to find proof:
Western Diet Changes Gut Bacteria and Triggers Colitis in Those at Risk

The top gluten free purchase is bread, followed closely by pizza and gluten free mixes. Next up on the best selling list would be snack foods, including cookies and muffins. It is no wonder that today, we see lots of families who go gluten free and within the first 2 years, they gain weight. Diabetes is now known to be linked to celiac disease and is growing to epidemic proportions nationwide.Multiple food allergens are prevalent and now 1 in every 12 children has a food allergy. Obesity is growing to epidemic proportions also. Perhaps it is high time we started paying more attention to the nutritional value of our food and less time riding the emotional roller coaster of purchasing foods just because they are available. What do you think? 

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*Information on our site and shared by members of our support forums is not intended to be medical advice or to replace the relationship between a patient and his/her physician*