From fat free to gluten free, the marketers have done it again. Slap the gluten free label on your product and suddenly it has become healthy. Chips and Pretzels? They’re gluten-free and therefore, guilt free! Sugar filled, soy based chocolate cheesecake is now a healthy option. Even foods that never contained gluten to being with, like guacamole, are capitalizing on the trend by adding “gluten-free” to their package. This isn’t the first time big time food production companies have taken a food trend and capitalized on it. Fat was the reason for all our health problems starting in the 1970’s and as a result, companies started removing fat and adding sugar to their products to get on board with this trend.
Obesity boomed after this marketing trend and hasn’t slowed down since. The fat-free revolution removed nutrient powerhouse foods like avocados, beef, and eggs from the diet because they contained “death causing” fat. The general public is kept in the dark from the fact that fat is necessary for our bodies to function and there is little to no scientific evidence connecting naturally occurring fats (unprocessed oils, fats from grass fed animals) in the diet to heart disease or death. The fat-free trend is still going on. Just turn on your TV and I guarantee you’ll see a commercial promoting something 98% fat free in under 10 minutes.
Going gluten-free is different than the fat-free craze because we aren’t removing a necessary nutrient from our diet. However, gluten-free pancakes, cookies, and chips are not the answer to the obesity epidemic and it scary to see people spend ridiculous amounts of money to buy expensive flour alternatives to make “healthy” junk food. A cookie, is a cookie, is a dang cookie so if you want a treat by all means have that treat in moderation, but please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because it does not contain gluten you are some how beating the system. Don’t believe me? Dunkin’ Donuts just released a gluten free donut. The gluten free donut contains 60 more calories than the gluten-containing counterpart, but because “gluten-free” is slapped on the label, individuals across the world will be believe they are making the healthier choice.
On the other side of this argument is the fact that many people suffer from sensitivity to gluten. Research is inconclusive about percentages of the population that are unable to digest gluten properly, but it’s pretty easy to find out for yourself. Remove gluten from your diet for at least 14 days and then try to re-introduce it. Feel bloated? Joints bothering you? Digestive issues? You might want to avoid gluten like the plague. Those expensive gluten-free products and nut flours are going to allow for you to enjoy a treat without digestive disruption. Still consider them a treat and not the foundation on which you build your nutrition.
The reason why gluten-free diets have assisted so many people in improved athletic performance and reduced body fat is rooted in the switch from refined carbohydrate dense diets to a diet comprised of whole foods – quality fats, proteins, and produce. It is not successful for those who continue to eat junk foods that are labeled gluten-free.
Bottom Line: You don’t need gluten-free products to avoid gluten in your diet.
So next time you’re walking down the grocery store “natural” foods section, remember the natural foods don’t come in boxes and sealed bags.