Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just because it’s “Gluten Free” doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good for you

So you’ve been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease and now you have to avoid gluten.

People who are given this life-changing information often go into a panic and read all they can about gluten-free diets and begin quickly substituting foods they once enjoyed, or thought they enjoyed. You find out that there are lots of gluten-free alternatives out there like gluten-free bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, chips, pizza, etc. You can find almost anything without gluten that you find with gluten. Yippee! The problem is that these gluten-free foods are not necessarily healthy.

Switching to a diet filled with gluten-free pasta, cookies, chips, etc. is not the best way to eat on a regular basis. Gluten-free pizza is still pizza! These foods can raise blood sugar and insulin very quickly. Gluten-free breads made with rice or corn flour often lack the fiber that breads with gluten contain. Fiber helps to slow the insulin response and keep the blood sugar from quickly spiking. Some people gain a tremendous amount of weight when switching to gluten-free foods because they’re eating a lot of high glycemic (raises blood sugar quickly)/low fiber foods which can increase body fat very fast. This is extremely dangerous for those who tend to be hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) or insulin resistant (high blood sugar/pre-diabetic state). You can become insulin resistant and shift towards Type II Diabetes. Not good.

It’s best to remember that a diet comprised of pasta, bread, and cookies is obviously not a wise, healthy choice whether you’re gluten free or not. Stick with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, legumes and brown rice. The amount of food choices still available to you is huge. It’s ok to have an occasional gluten-free pasta, pizza, cookie, etc. If possible, try to find gluten-free breads with high fiber content.

Remember, comfort food is comfort food is comfort food.