Everywhere you look these days, someone is trying out some new diet—atkins, paleo, keto, vegan. It all can be so overwhelming at times! And now there is a new buzzword that is slowly gaining popularity with a health-obsessed segment of the society-“Gluten-free diet”.
Gluten is protein found in grains like wheat, rye, barley, etc. And since these grains are used to cook right about everything delicious, gluten is present in your bread, pizza, pasta and yes, even your birthday cake. It is a very, very important part of our lives. If it involves cake, then why exactly would be people be going gluten-free?
Well, Gluten-free diets are largely recommended for people who are allergic to gluten or have celiac disease. In celiac disease, the gluten can cause serious damage and inflammation of the small intestine. Other people allergic to gluten might experience nausea, stomach aches, bloating, etc. None of it is pleasant. And because they can’t consume grains, they often miss out on important nutrients. Thus, in order to ensure they get the essential nutrients from other sources, they follow the gluten-free diet.
Because of its restrictive and limited nature, gluten-free diets have become the holy grail of healthy lifestyle and weight loss. But are they actually so? That depends entirely on your body type and lifestyle.
If you are thinking of going gluten free, read on to evaluate the pros and cons before making the decision for yourself.
Weight loss is the most popular reason for the adoption of gluten-free diets. Because gluten-free diets restrict your intake of carb-heavy processed foods, you tend to consume less of them which invariably leads to weight loss.
Adopting gluten-free diet forces you to be more aware of what you are putting in your body. Especially if you are allergic or have celiac disease, you become habituated to reading the labels and nutritional value of a product which leads to healthier eating choices.
You know that feeling after lunch where you just want to crawl into your bed and sleep? Yeah, that is because our lunches are usually very high in simple carbs which causes a sudden spike in our insulin levels and ultimately cause carb crash. But with gluten-free diets, because you eat less processed carbs, you have more energy throughout. Goodbye, crab crashes.
Once you go gluten-free, you are forced to research for substitutes so you can get your nutrients without the gluten. Due to this, your knowledge of the various grains and food items and their nutrition increases. All in all, you end up making healthier choices.
A gluten-free diet is expensive. The bread that costs you INR 20 will cost you INR 50 if it comes with the label of “gluten-free”. Eating out is another challenge. Not many restaurants cater to customers who eat a gluten-free diet and those who do, charge obscenely high prices.
Gluten-free foods might have less fibre than their traditional counterparts. They might not be able to provide the same level of nutrition. As such it becomes important to keep track of daily vitamin intake and take vitamin pills, if necessary. Anaemia is also a common health issue among people who go gluten-free.
LACK OF KNOWLEDGE:
The main hindrance faced is the lack of knowledge. People often have high expectations from gluten-free diets; with dreams of their lives being transformed through this (exaggeration but you get the point!). Most of the people don’t even know what gluten is and treat it like it’s a bad word. They don’t even know what foods are gluten free and what is not. To follow any diet properly, educate yourself regarding its different aspects and always make sure it is ideal for your lifestyle and body.
As I said, many people lack proper knowledge of gluten-free foods. They assume that gluten-free automatically means “low calorie” and “healthy” and eat about 10 gluten-free cupcakes in one sitting because it’s “not as bad as traditional ones.” We have to realize that the key to consistent weight loss and achieving your fit dreams is a portion control and not any magic diet.
Remember, in the end, whatever diet or lifestyle you choose should be one that leaves you feeling better and healthy….even if that means indulging yourself with a brownie Sunday every once in a while. They two components of any healthy lifestyle should be a balance between healthy eating and exercising. Even if you are on a gluten-free diet (or any diet, really), focus on these two aspects.
Remember, going gluten-free does not automatically make you healthy just like eating bread does not make you unhealthy. It’s the overall balance in the end. So relax and have a slice of that cake. You know you want to do!