Gluten Free Reviewer Grocery

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Weekend Edition Hot Off The Press #5: Fact or Fiction...The Gluten Free Diet

A new year ushers in new beginnings, and for many that means a New Year’s resolutions of losing weight. There are tons of diets out there ranging from the cookie diet all the way to something more intense like a raw diet. One that is near and dear to our hearts is of course the gluten free diet. But is it really a way to lose weight? I was watching television the other week and as I was channel surfing, I stumbled upon a story on fad diets and whether or not they worked. When the gluten free diet came up, they said that you might actually end up gaining weight. They didn’t give much reasoning to the claim, so I decided to think about it myself as I feel I am fairly familiar with gluten free products. So the question posed is…Fact or fiction? Can you lose weight on a gluten free diet or will it make you gain weight?

To answer this question we have to look deeper into the purpose of gluten free food. I think one of the biggest misconceptions of gluten free food is that all of it is healthy and good for you. Our society is easily won over by the latest flashy package label. Many people see “Gluten Free” on a package and automatically associate it with being healthy without even reading the nutrition facts. What we have to remember is that this is food made specifically for people with a genuine need for it…the people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

As reviewers, we have paid close attention to the nutrition facts. If you take the time to look at it, you might find some of it surprising. When we review an item, I like to compare it to the regular gluten version of the product. The most recent example is my review for Glutino Gluten Free Sesame Pretzel rings. I compared it to a major brand of pretzel and found that the gluten free version actually had more calories and fat than the regular version. In other products it was salt or sugar or some other flavor additive that had much high levels. A lot of times, gluten free foods don’t have as much flavor as the real thing. So to make up for that deficiency, the manufacturers add higher levels of sodium or sugar to the product. It’s not intentional, but what happens is that these products end up having more sodium or fat or calories than the regular version.

Given the nutrition information above, will you lose weight on a gluten free diet?...Probably not. The trick is more in your eating habits than anything. Like with any food, the more you eat, the more weight you will gain. If you follow the general rule of thumb of portion control, you might be able to shave off a few pounds, but that’s a result of watching what you eat.

So are there any real benefits to a gluten free diet? For a celiac or someone who is gluten intolerant, it will make a huge difference, but for a normal healthy person, there is no real advantage of going gluten free. In fact some professionals in the field have actually said that it may be harmful. I’m not quite sure why, but I believe it has something to do with nutrients that are associated with gluten products that your body would be deprived of. If you are considering a gluten free diet, make sure to check with your doctor or nutritionist to determine if it is right for you.

The gluten free diet…fact or fiction? Unfortunately it just might be fiction. Those of you looking to shed a few pounds in the New Year, you might want to find another diet or better yet, just stick to the good old days of watching what you eat and portion control.

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