Gluten-free diet myths debunked

Gluten-free diet myths debunked

Going gluten-free has become ‘trendy’ in recent years and continues to gain in popularity. For those who have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), a gluten-free diet is a must. But with the trend comes a lot of false information, so if you’re considering going gluten-free, it’s important to make sure you’re doing it correctly.

A recent Time article examined some myths concerning gluten-free diets. Two popular myths: following this diet means cutting out all carbs and going gluten-free means you’ll lose weight.

“Gluten-free diets can be nutritionally complete when done correctly,” says Dana Artinyan, a registered dietitian at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Oftentimes individuals starting a gluten-free diet turn to overly processed foods. This can lead to weight gain over time. Instead, I recommend choosing more natural, wholesome gluten-free options.”

Eating gluten free also doesn’t mean cutting out all carbs, Artinyan says. “There are many sources of carbohydrates that are gluten-free, including chickpeas, squash, rice, potatoes and sweet potatoes,” she adds.

Gluten is actually a mixture of proteins and is most commonly found in wheat, barley and rye, and may be found in oat products as well, according to Artinyan.

“So stay away from foods such as pasta, whole wheat breads and regular oatmeal and opt instead for grain sources like white or brown rice, quinoa or amaranth,” she adds.

It’s also important to do your homework when committed to eating a gluten-free diet, especially if you have celiac disease. Gluten can be found in some food items you wouldn’t expect, and companies are not required to include gluten by name on food labels. It might instead be included in other ingredients listed like wheat, barley or rye and anything that could be derived from those products.

“Check labels for ingredients such as barley malt/malt (usually derived from barley), triticale, modified food starch, starch or dextrin,” says Artinyan. “These might indicate that gluten is included in the food item, so it’s best to stay away.”

Artinyan also encourages anyone going gluten-free as a means of weight loss to consult a registered dietitian and do some research on healthy gluten-free foods and recipes.

“It’s tempting to replace gluten-containing foods with unhealthy gluten-free options,” says Artinyan.

Which is why oftentimes, people who go gluten-free still gain weight.

“To get the results you want in a healthy way, it’s important to eat a well-rounded, balanced diet overall that includes fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, dairy and gluten-free whole grains,” Artinyan recommends.

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  1. A lot of folks who refrain from eating gluten turn to corn chips, cornbread, and tortillas as an alternative, not realizing that many people put on weight even faster eating corn than eating wheat. (Think about it; remember the commercials for “corn-fed beef”? Corn was used to fatten up steer for market.) A lot of corn is drenched in herbicides as well, and can cause reactive problems due to the level of toxins.

    • Dana Artinyan, RD October 13, 2016 at 2:10 pm · Reply

      JLH — you’re absolutely correct. Turning to corn chips and overly processed corn products can certainly lead to weight gain. Plus, some individuals with celiac disease or other food intolerances have a difficult time with corn.

  2. Please continue the gluten free posts. I would like to see Advocate gastroenterologists & dieticians do a CE presentation on celiac disease.

  3. I cut out gluten because I was having terrible pain that felt like inflammation every day after my lunch hour. Somebody suggested it could be gluten. The pain abated almost immediately. Another pleasant side effect is, after a time, I realized I am not struggling with food cravings like I have been so much of my life. My weight is already healthy but it takes a LOT of work to keep it that way. Since I cut out gluten I have substituted my usual carbs with fruit, veggies and a few gluten free products (one or two gluten free cookies perhaps or some nuts) and somehow it has relieved my cravings.

  4. Excellent article. Before my family member was diagnosed with celiac disease (sprue), she was LOSING weight at a dangerous rate. The gluten-free diet is what saved her life. There is no need for a gluten-free diet if you have a healthy digestive system, free of gluten intolerance.

  5. Gluten is just the latest evil food . A big part of this issue is that people today have too much time to worry about these ridiculous claims . I’ll bet that in less affluent countries where people have to strugle to make a living that you will not find gluten issues . My Italian parents , aunts and uncles all lived long healthy lives into their late 80’s and they ate large amounts of gluten . They also ate only white bread and no whole
    wheat . It was not rare for them to eat a whole loaf daily . My old school Italian diet is by far more healthy than any modern health nut yuppie diet .

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.