I was thinking the other day about how much our society obsesses over food, in not necessarily a good way. I mean there have been a lot more discoveries about food, and the potential harmful side effects of various food products like artificial sweeteners, genetically modified foods, hormones, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and the list goes on. I love that people are becoming much more aware of what they are putting into their bodies, and are educating themselves about nutrition. I think it’s great that more and more people want to be healthy, and that they are a lot more conscious of not only their health, but the environment as well. However, there are a lot of us who are not educating ourselves properly about nutrition, and are falling into diets because we think it’s healthy, based on what we’ve heard but not on what we actually know. Eating gluten-free does not necessarily mean that you’re eating healthier, and it also doesn’t mean that you’re going to lose weight. I mean you may lose weight by cutting down on processed carbohydrates, that’s always a good thing, but don’t cut gluten completely out of your life if you don’t need to. This is because, if you go on long enough without eating gluten, then you may start to develop an intolerance to it when you were perfectly fine digesting it in the first place!
Eating gluten-free has become super popular, it seems like more and more people are reaching for gluten free options because they think it’s healthier for them, and they also believe that it will help them to lose weight. Now these claims are not necessarily false, however, there are plenty of gluten free products out there that are just as bad for you as the original. For example, gluten free cookies are still cookies!!! That means they are still full of sugar and fat just like a regular cookie! Gluten, is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barely. These are all various types of grains. Gluten is a protein that is found naturally in these grains, this does not mean that it is bad for everyone! Some people like my mother, can’t eat gluten at all because of an intolerance that was diagnosed by the doctor. My mom however, doesn’t just have an intolerance to gluten, she actually has a hereditary autoimmune disease called celiac. When people with celiac ingest gluten, their body has an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks damage the lining of the small intestine (the villi) which promotes nutrient absorption into the body. When the vili is damaged, it is much more difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, which can lead to further health complications. When the body is attacking the small intestine because gluten was eaten at some point, it is very painful. The person will bloat terribly, and have terrible gas as well. No one wants to feel this way, and no one wants to be around a gassy person, and the only treatment for celiac so far is a gluten free diet.
If you don’t experience terrible bloating, gas, cramps, or irregular bowel movements when you ingest any wheat product, then there is no real need for you to eat a gluten-free diet. Gluten CAN be an inflammatory for some people. Just like lactose, eggs, and alcohol can all be inflammatory to people, but not to everyone. Sugar can be an inflammatory! It may not be the gluten that is bothering you, but the amount of sugars you’re consuming in your diet! So if you’re eating a gluten free cookie, you may still experience inflammation, gas, and weight gain. If you can eat toast, or regular wheat pasta without getting super gassy and uncomfortable then you most likely don’t have a gluten intolerance, and becoming gluten free won’t necessarily help you. However, cutting down on processed foods like store-bought breads, pastas, cakes, cookies, pastries, granola bars, boxed cereals, the list goes on, can help you lose weight, and will help you feel better overall. This is because, a lot of these food products contain high amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and so on. All of these things can cause inflammation, and weight gain. Plus, because they are all high on the glycemic index, they will also cause your insulin levels to spike. This will give you a sudden burst of energy, and then a heavy crash if you’re eating too much of it at a time. So, if you enjoy bread, and pasta, then make it a once in a while treat. Eat it in MODERATION but you don’t have to get rid of it completely.
In conclusion, what I’m trying to say is this. Eating less packaged and processed foods will be better for your health overall, even if you’re gluten-free or not. However, ordering a gluten free pizza from Pizza Nova, will not make that meal choice any healthier FYI. I know for myself personally, when I eat too many artificial sweeteners, I can get headaches, and I can get gassy. I can also get really sick from eating really fatty foods, like too much cheese. Nobody wants to be around me after that! Last summer, I had a terrible episode in Miami… All of my closest friends know exactly what happened!! I ate a super greasy lobster roll, and let’s just say it didn’t end well… It was also soggy and gross 😦 serves me right for eating a New England food in Miami in the summer time. So, if you experience any real discomfort after eating certain foods the best way to discover what the actual culprit is, is to talk to your doctor first or any other healthcare professional! If it’s nothing serious just gas and bloating, then the best thing to do is to eliminate all possible inflammatory foods. So, eliminate dairy, gluten, alcohol, eggs. Do this for a month, and then introduce one of these foods at a time. So one week introduce eggs and see what happens, then introduce dairy, and so on and so forth. You may not need to eliminate things completely, but you may need to restrict certain foods because they make you uncomfortable. Having terrible gas, or bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or even heat burn/acid reflux, is NOT normal, and you shouldn’t keep taking antacids, or Pepto Bismol because that is not actually solving the problem! You need to cut down or cut out the foods that are causing you this discomfort! Everybody’s body is different, and you need to figure out what types of foods make you feel your best, and help you to perform your best when exercising and going about your daily lives.