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The gluten free fad- What you need to know

I am hearing three things out on in the internet about going gluten free:

  1. Eat a gluten free diet to lose weight- When my friend, Julie, and I started hearing that eating gluten free (GF) will help you lose weight, we said to each other, “Huh?!”.  There is no magic weight loss with eating gluten free!  Going GF does force you to re-look at your diet – cutting out the processed, eat more whole foods including more fruits and vegetables.    These diet changes, for anyone, can promote weight loss!
    Does eating gluten free help with weight loss?
      NO – Gluten free products outweigh the non-gluten free with more calories, fat and sugar. Extra fat and sugar add taste and texture that are lost when gluten is removed.  Plus, the GF diet lacks several nutrients and one will have to supplement (please read on to find out more!).
  2. Avoiding gluten makes my stomach feel better- Why do more and more people avoid gluten?  Could it be with the growing number of GF products?  Could it be that GF choices taste better than ever?  Are we self-treating because of possible bloating, stomach cramps and pains?
    Should I continue to eat GF if it helps my stomach feel better? 
    Seek your physician’s approval of such a diet change and work with a registered dietitian to optimize your diet.  Maybe there are other reasons for such stomach issues.   Yes, 1 in 133 people have been diagnosed with Celiac.  But, treating yourself will not give you the correct diagnosis.  (See this site for specific steps in diagnosing Celiac). And, one needs to be savvy when following this diet!
  3. Eat Gluten Free to cure Autism- Will going gluten free cure my child’s Autism?  It is a mixed answer out there – research does not support going on a GF (and casein free) diet to “cure” Autism.  But, some parents say such a diet does help alleviate symptoms of Autism.  If you choose to feed your child follow this strict diet, do so under the guidance of your physician and work with a registered dietitian to ensure your child meets all nutrient needs.

If you do follow the gluten free diet, be savvy:

What do I miss when eating gluten free?  Gluten free products are made with refined flours.  They lack iron, folic acid, calcium, B-vitamins and fiber normally rich in the original whole grain.

How do I get all these missed nutrients back into my diet? Start with supplements.  From there, work with a registered dietitian to identify ways to boost your nutrient intakes via whole foods.

Suppliers of GF Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

  • Freeda Vitamins: Entire line is GF; www.freedavitamins.com; 800-777-3737
  • Nature Made: Entire line is GF; www.naturemade.com; 800-276-2878
  • Solgar: Most vitamins are GF; www.solgar.com; 877-SOLGAR4
  • Twin Lab: Most vitamins are GF; www.twinlab.com; 800-645-5626
  • Whole Foods 365 Vitamins: Most vitamins are GF; www.wholefoods.com

Obtained from: PRACTICAL GASTROENTEROLOGY • SEPTEMBER 2006

Are GF foods really gluten free?  If you truly need to follow this diet, take note!  In 2007, the FDA initiated a proposal for regulation of gluten free foods.  The comment period started almost 6 years ago; the public keeps waiting on guidelines for labeling of gluten free food products.    Right now, foods can be labeled as gluten free, but, without the regulations- the unknown prevails to the consumer – how much gluten is really in my food?  As I was grocery shopping with Julie when she was first diagnosed with Celiac disease (CD), we noticed many foods labeled as gluten free. But, in small print, several would say, “Manufactured in a plant that manufactures wheat.”  Contamination – these products are not truly gluten free!  Let’s hope for the release of an update in labeling laws for GF products to happen soon.

If you follow a GF diet, bottom line:

  • Ask your physician if the GF diet is for you.
  • Work with a registered dietitian to optimize your nutrition.
  • Take a multi-vitamin; eat foods rich in fiber, calcium, iron and B-vitamins.
  • Beware – the GF diet can be expensive!
  • One must be savvy in following this diet if you have Celiac disease.  Don’t be fooled by the fad!
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