Those of us who live in the Western part of the world eat far more gluten than our bodies were ever intended to process. The reason for this is simple. We have easy access to processed foods. Whether it is from boxed foods at the grocery store or a meal from a fast-food restaurant, gluten-rich foods are readily available all around us.
The downside to all this is that many people suffer physically (or even mentally) when they ingest gluten. Many don’t even know that gluten is the cause of their misery. But more and more attention is being given to gluten, and the benefits of a gluten-free diet, which is alerting people to this problem.
Reasons To Go Gluten-Free
There are many reasons for going gluten free. Perhaps you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten allergies. Perhaps your doctor suspects you may be gluten intolerant, and has recommended that you eliminate gluten from your diet to see if that helps you feel better. Whatever the reason, it is important to understand what gluten is, and where it is found, so that you actually do eliminate it.
Gluten is a complex protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Oats are gluten-free, but are often included in the list of foods to avoid because of cross-contamination. Unless oats specifically state that they are gluten-free, you can assume that they may be contaminated with gluten because of how or where they are processed.
Eliminating Gluten From Your Body
Once you stop eating gluten, it can take up to eight weeks for gluten to work its way out of your system. While some people feel better almost immediately after going gluten free, others actually feel worse. Those who feel worse may be experiencing something known as gluten withdrawal, a controversial subject that you can learn more about here.
If you decide to go gluten free to determine if you are gluten sensitive, then your doctor might suggest that you try eating gluten after you have gone eight weeks without it, and see how you feel. If you develop physical symptoms, such as bloating, headache, or abdominal pain, then it is very possible that gluten was the cause, and you can go back to a gluten-free diet.
Even if you don’t feel any ill effects to reintroducing gluten to your diet, you may find that you prefer being gluten-free. Gluten-rich foods are also full of carbohydrates. Eliminating these carbs from your diet is good for you. People often experience a sense of well-being on a gluten-free diet, simply because they are eating better, healthier.
It is because of this that it can be very difficult to know for sure if you feel better after going gluten free is the result of gluten intolerance, or simply from eating better. If you feel better, and you are eating fiber-rich foods (to make up for the lack of fiber that you would have gotten from eating carb-rich foods, such as wheat bread), then discuss with your doctor if you should continue to avoid gluten.
Beware Of Weight Gain
Although some people experience weight loss, many others go the opposite direction and actually gain weight after they stop eating gluten. The reason for this is because people unintentionally add an overdose of calories to their new diets. They do this by increasing their intake of potatoes, processed breads (made with gluten-free flours), and red meats.
Often people think that eating potatoes, meats, gluten-free breads, pretzels, and such will be healthier for them. Unfortunately, these foods are loaded with carbohydrates that convert into sugars. Loading up on these type of foods is almost certain to cause weight gain.
These type of foods are also difficult for the digestive system to breakdown. It is better to supplement a gluten-free menu with fruits and vegetables. These are very healthy options, and increasing your intake of these foods is also healthier for your digestive system.
Just because your grocery store has a gluten-free aisle doesn’t mean those are the best choices to add to your shopping cart. Read the labels. Look for, and avoid, foods that are made from potato, soy, or corn. In moderation these are okay, but greatly adding them to your diet is just asking for problems.
Look For 100% Grains
There are several grains that are very healthy, and completely gluten-free. These grains include:
- Buckwheat (aka kasha)
Make Your Own Foods
Instead of relying on ready-made foods that you can buy at the grocery store, take total control of your diet by making foods yourself. This way, you will know for certain what is in your food, and you have total control over what goes into it.
Research has shown that diets rich in the above-mentioned gluten-free grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and yogurt has been shown to aid in weight loss and overall well-being.
If you have any questions or concerns about removing gluten from your diet, be sure to talk to your doctor.