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The gluten-free diet has been all the rage in the last few years for many people, even those who do not have celiac disease or another disease which might flare up in the intestines. Celiac disease is where any consumption of gluten containing foods can cause irritation and damage to the lining of the small intestine. [1] For those who do not have it, they simply are trying to become healthier eaters overall by cutting out gluten containing foods. If you are wondering if you actually have celiac disease, it is best to get checked out by your doctor because it can be dangerous if left undiagnosed. Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, anemia, osteoporosis, and infertility are just a few ailments that can creep up if you do not take care of it. So what exactly is a gluten-free diet anyway? It simply means cutting out food items that could potentially have any protein gluten in the ingredient list. It can be somewhat tricky to know exactly which foods contain gluten due to the many different names present on a label. Some common names for gluten are: durum flour, farina, graham flour, kamut, semolina, spelt, and of course, wheat. Certain grains and oats also can be contaminated with wheat unless they specifically say on the package gluten-free. Cross contamination is also a big issue if you suffer from celiac disease. For example, if you are dining out any cross contamination within the restaurant can affect you. If you are avoiding gluten for other reasons like weight loss and for fun, this is not as imperative to your health. [2] According to Beyond Celiac,

A Gluten-Free Diet Plan

Sadly, you will have to cut out the “good stuff”, or the unhealthy stuff, in many cases. However, just because you are going gluten-free does not guarantee you will lose weight or become healthier in general, so still make good food choices! What are the food alternatives when you are faced with eliminating gluten out of your diet? Here are some alternative flour choices that are approved when looking to stay on the gluten-free track: Brown rice, white rice, wild rice, amaranth, buckwheat, almond meal flour, coconut flour, corn, corn starch, guar gum, millet, pea flour, potato flour, potatoes, quinoa, soy flour, and teff. Actual foods that are safe to consume are vegetables and fruits, proteins, as well as different gluten-free substitutes from packaged foods found in stores. Other foods that are safe to consume are beans, nuts, legumes, dairy, fish, and seafood. The list is rather long, so do not fret if you have to switch to a gluten-free diet for any reason. There is also a large list of grains that are also allowed such as: rice, corn, soy, tapioca, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot, flax, chia, gluten-free oats, and nut flours. There are certain beers too that are gluten-free, but many are made with barley, which is full of gluten, so beware! Be careful of soups and sauces as well, as they have been said to hide a lot of gluten due to the thickeners that are added to them. Foods to watch out for that may not seem like they contain gluten but actually do are licorice and some spices, so check labels to stay on the safe side. Caramel coloring is also another ingredient that could go either way, so keep that in mind if you are about to eat anything with caramel coloring. In some cases it is made with corn, but there are instances when it is made with wheat as well. Over the counter drugs as well as different chapsticks also can contain gluten, so be aware of gluten lurking in places you might not think to double check! When in doubt, check the label to avoid any unnecessary flare ups!

Gluten-Free Diets and Weight Loss

So many people automatically think the gluten-free diet is connected with weight loss, but that is not always the case. Weight loss happens when you have a healthy and well balanced diet coupled with exercise each day, regardless of whether you eat gluten or not. The gluten-free craze has boomed the last few years, and has skyrocketing it to a 4.3 billion dollar industry, when it all reality only 1% of Americans really have to be gluten-free for medical reasons. [5] Jillian also says,

Gluten Free Diet Benefits

For those who really need to be gluten-free, adopting this lifestyle has many benefits. Celiac disease is not the only group that cannot have gluten. Others that have irritable bowel syndrome or even a non-celiac gluten intolerance will also find relief from this type of diet. The only road to finding relief for this group of people comes in the form of diet, so it greatly benefits them to eat this way. For the people who this affects, staying away from foods that contain gluten sets them up for less bloating, cramping, and diarrhea, which is nice. There are not many benefits to restricting yourself to being wheat free and eating non-gluten items if you are tolerant of it, unless you just stick to veggies, fruits, and protein, which is healthy overall. [6] If you are looking for how to start a gluten-free diet, it is rather simple. There are so many different websites available to bounce food ideas off of, as well as know exactly what to stay away from. Reading labeled boxes, especially on packaged food, is going to be imperative to your success of going gluten-free. Gluten-free diet foods come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, and they were meant for people who simply cannot digest gluten. Inflammation can also occur if you have an autoimmune disorder or celiac disease of some sort, which forces you to cut gluten out of the mix entirely.

In Closing

The gluten-free diet is a very special diet meant for a select group of people who have different autoimmune diseases or celiac disease. However, in saying that, it does not mean someone without those conditions cannot start a gluten-free diet as well. It is easy to get started being mindful of how to switch over to a gluten-free diet if you have to, because there are so many resources available today. Between books, websites, and articles, you won’t be short handed on the list of foods that will keep your stomach happy in the long run! If you are looking into this diet simply to lose weight, it has not been said to be the best method for weight loss overall. Some doctors even warn there is a lack of nutrition that can occur when switching over to a gluten-free diet, as many of the essential vitamins and minerals are lost along the way. There are many different support groups to tap into and people who also have to stay away from the production of wheat, so get tied in for better success!