Gluten-free diets are getting increasingly popular, and it’s easier than ever to follow one because there are more gluten-free products in stores and more gluten-free menu items in restaurants. Many people think the gluten-free diet is a way to lose weight quickly, but this is not true. People with celiac disease can also get better by going on a gluten-free diet.
Gluten-free eating is also good for people who are sensitive to gluten but don’t have celiac disease. Since there are no pills or treatments for celiac disease, the only way to treat it is to follow a strict, gluten-free diet.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and products made from these grains, such as malt and brewer’s yeast. On a gluten-free diet, you can’t eat any food with these ingredients. People who can’t eat gluten can still eat a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, beans, legumes, and most dairy products. These ingredients are gluten-free and safe for people who don’t have allergies to these food groups.
What is a Gluten-free Diet?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat and a few other grains. Foods containing gluten are not allowed on a gluten-free diet, which means eating only whole foods that don’t contain gluten, like fruits, vegetables, meat, and eggs and processed gluten-free foods like gluten-free bread or pasta.
“Gluten is a protein found in some foods naturally, and it can also be added to foods during processing to change their texture,” Gluten can be used to bind things together and add flavor, so it is sometimes in foods you wouldn’t expect to find it in. Gluten can be found in soy sauce, ice cream, certain medications, beauty products, dietary supplements, and foods like pizza, pasta, cereal, and baked goods.
Some people think that if they don’t eat gluten, they can’t eat any carbs, which isn’t true. Many carb-rich foods, like rice, potatoes, and beans, don’t have gluten.
Gluten-Free Diet Basics
Celiac disease can be treated by going on a gluten-free diet. An autoimmune disease is caused by eating gluten, a protein naturally found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye, and foods made with these grains. About 1 in 100 people worldwide have celiac disease, which makes them unable to absorb certain nutrients, such as iron, vitamins A, D, E, and K, vitamin B12, and folate.
This can cause health problems, such as anemia, weak bones, and problems getting pregnant or staying pregnant. Some people are sensitive to gluten, which is also called gluten intolerance. This is not as bad as celiac disease and does not involve the immune system, but it can be uncomfortable. People sensitive to gluten may feel better if they don’t eat gluten. For the diet to work, a person must stop eating gluten-free foods.
The rules of this diet are simple: you can’t eat any gluten-containing foods. This includes bread, pasta, baked goods made from wheat flour, sauces, soups, snack foods, and seasonings containing wheat-based additives. To follow this diet, you’ll need to get good at reading food labels to make sure they don’t hide gluten. This kind of scrutiny of ingredients is a big part of the lifestyle that goes along with the diet.
On this diet, you should avoid anything that contains wheat or might have come in contact with wheat. Meats, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and nuts can be eaten as long as they don’t have any added gluten. Some grains, like rice, corn, and quinoa, and some starches and flours that aren’t made from wheat are also fine.
There is no evidence that the gluten-free diet will help people who don’t have these disorders lose weight or have other health benefits. Other than that, eating many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is generally good for your health.
This diet has other benefits, like better sleep, mood, or athletic performance. However, there is no evidence to support these claims, except that the diet relieves the symptoms of celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders. Going gluten-free could be bad for people who don’t have a disorder caused by gluten.
What to Eat on the Gluten-Free Diet?
You can eat fresh meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fats, and oils on a gluten-free diet. Like the ones below, you can also eat grains and starches that don’t have gluten.
Gluten-Free Grains and Starches
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Oats (as long as they say “gluten-free” on the package)
Rice, soy, corn, potato, and nut flours that don’t have gluten are also fine.
Here’s a one-day sample meal plan, followed by some recipes you could enjoy while on a gluten-free diet.
- Breakfast: Gluten-Free Buckwheat Pancakes
- Lunch: Black Bean and Mango Salad
- Snack: Gluten-Free Homemade Hummus
- Dinner: Gluten-Free Kid-Friendly Spaghetti
- Vegetarian Quinoa Salad
- Cauliflower and Potato Soup
- Italian Turkey Meatballs
- Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
- Brined and Roasted Turkey Breast
- Gluten-Free Energy Bars
- 3-Ingredient Coconut Macaroons
- Homemade Vegetable Chips
- Hummus With Tahini
- Perfect Banana Split
- Easy Homemade Macarons
- Creamy Pecan Pralines
- Microwave Fudge
What Not to Eat on the Gluten-Free Diet?
You can’t eat wheat or anything made with wheat on a gluten-free diet. You also can’t eat the following.
Foods With Gluten to Avoid
- Triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye).
- Other varieties of wheat must likewise be avoided, including:
- Graham flour and other flours made from wheat
Gluten can get into oats made in plants that also handle wheat, so oats that aren’t labeled “gluten-free” should be avoided.
Also, many foods have seasonings, thickeners, and other ingredients made from wheat. Gluten can be found in sauces like soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, salad dressings, and even some mustards. So can processed meats, veggie burgers, french fries, chips, different snack foods, candy, granola, and canned and instant soups and gravies.
Cross-contamination can also be a problem at home and in restaurants or grocery stores. Knives, toasters, cutting boards, containers, and bulk bins that have come in contact with gluten-containing foods should not be used on gluten-free foods.
Are Oats Gluten-Free?
Even though oats don’t have gluten in them naturally, they can get gluten during the manufacturing process if they come into contact with grains that do have gluten or if they are processed on machinery that is also used to process grains with gluten. Some companies ensure that gluten doesn’t get into their oats, and they mark their packages to say so. So, when buying oats, you should look for a label that says the product is gluten-free.
Who should Eat a Gluten-Free Diet?
1. People with celiac disease
People with celiac disease, an autoimmune response to gluten that causes the body to attack the small intestine and cause stomach pain, nausea, bloating, or diarrhea, need to stay away from gluten. People with celiac disease can’t eat any gluten, so they have to eat gluten-free for the rest of their lives. If you have celiac disease and eat gluten by accident, you will probably feel the same way you did before you gave up gluten.
2. People with gluten sensitivity
Gluten sensitivity that isn’t caused by celiac disease is another reason someone might need to stop eating gluten. This is also sometimes called gluten intolerance. Rajagopal says, “We don’t have a clear way to define or explain gluten intolerance.” “We know that some people feel sick when they eat something with gluten in it.”
It’s important not to assume that gluten is the cause of stomach pain. Rajagopal says that if you think you might have a gluten intolerance, you should talk to a doctor and a registered dietitian to figure out what’s going on.
Rajagopal says, “There is no test for gluten intolerance so we might try a process of elimination, like the low FODMAP diet.” This short-term eating plan cuts out many foods that can make the gut feel bad, like wheat-based products.
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Stomach pain
3. People who are allergic to wheat
People allergic to wheat should avoid certain gluten-containing foods, but not because they contain gluten. Wheat makes their immune systems react, which can cause things like a rash, a headache, or sneezing. They can still eat gluten in barley and rye, two other grains.
Does Going Gluten-Free Help you Lose Weight?
No evidence supports that a gluten-free diet leads to weight loss.
A gluten-free diet can sometimes cause people to gain weight. When people with celiac disease stop eating gluten, it’s easy for them to gain weight. If a person with the celiac disease loses weight and has anemia, they are likely to gain weight on a gluten-free diet because their body will be able to digest and absorb food better. People who don’t have celiac disease but go gluten-free can gain weight from the gluten-free foods they eat because their diet isn’t balanced.
Even if a food doesn’t have gluten, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Many gluten-free foods contain more calories, sugar, and fat than similar foods containing gluten. Gluten-free foods are often less healthy for the body because they have less flavor or are missing some ingredients.
People who switch to a gluten-free diet often lose weight, but this is usually because they also stop eating many processed foods and refined carbohydrates containing gluten. If you want to lose weight and stop eating gluten, it’s important to watch your portion sizes, work out regularly, and eat a lot of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
Are there Risks to Trying a Gluten-free Diet if you don’t have Celiac Disease?
If you cut out all gluten from your diet, you might miss out on healthy whole grains, fiber, and small amounts of nutrients. Eating enough whole grains is especially important if you are at risk for heart disease or diabetes, and whole grains can help lower your cholesterol and even keep your blood sugar level. Some foods that contain gluten are also good sources of vitamins and minerals, like B vitamins, iron, and magnesium.
Keep in mind that some processed gluten-free foods have a lot of sodium, sugar, and fat that are bad for you. You might gain weight, change your blood sugar, get high blood pressure, or have other problems when you eat these foods. So, just because a food says it is gluten-free doesn’t mean it is healthy.
Rajagopal says you should stop eating highly processed foods before eating gluten if you don’t have celiac disease or GI problems. Add more fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread or pasta, and lean proteins. Many people feel better when they eat better, not when they cut out gluten.
Risks to a Gluten-Free Diet
A gluten-free diet might not be a good idea because it can be hard to eat a balanced diet without gluten. Studies show that it’s hard for people with celiac disease who eat a gluten-free diet to eat enough whole grains. Only about 1% of people ate the number of grains that were recommended, and 80% of people ate less than half the amount that was recommended.
It would help if you didn’t try to lose weight by following a strict nutrient diet. People with celiac disease have to follow this diet to improve their quality of life and avoid health problems in the long run. People who don’t have celiac disease shouldn’t have to eat in a certain way because it’s bad for their health. It can also cost you money! Gluten-free foods are known to be more expensive than similar foods that do contain gluten.
Some Risks of a Gluten-Free Diet also Include:
1. Lack of Fiber:
Including gluten-containing foods in your diet makes it much easier to get fiber. Even though some bread, like white bread, is processed and not very good for your body, eating wheat bread is one of the easiest ways to get the fiber you need. People with celiac disease have to look for fortified grains and foods with more fiber.
2. Increased risk of type two diabetes:
Foods with gluten help protect the body against Type 2 diabetes because they have fiber and other vitamins and nutrients. By choosing healthy foods containing gluten, you can create a balanced diet that will help improve your health.
3. Lack of essential vitamins and nutrients:
Gluten-containing foods are a good way to get a long list of vitamins and nutrients. If you don’t eat gluten, it’s harder to get these vitamins and nutrients because many gluten-free products don’t have them added. To find that balance, you must be careful about what you eat without gluten-containing foods.
4. Weight Gain:
As we’ve discussed, a gluten-free diet can lead to weight gain, which shows how ineffective it is. There are a lot of gluten-free foods that are high in sugar, calories, and fat.
People with celiac disease and gluten intolerance are aware of the risks of a gluten-free diet and are willing to take them. They will have to work hard to overcome these risks, but it’s better than having digestive problems and pain all the time, and for celiac disease, it’s a choice that must be made. As someone with celiac disease, the only way to treat it right now is to follow a gluten-free diet.
The only way to treat celiac disease, which affects about 2 million Americans, is to follow a gluten-free diet. 12 Some people feel bad after eating gluten-free foods, but the diet stops. It includes gluten-free meats, dairy products, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. With this diet, the most important thing is to get enough vitamins, minerals, and fiber while avoiding too much sugar and fat. Gluten-free alternatives can also cost a lot.
People who go on a gluten-free diet without having celiac disease put themselves at risk and have to deal with problems without getting any real benefit. There are other ways to get the same results without dealing with extra stress and problems. Going gluten-free isn’t the best choice if you want to lose weight healthily. A gluten-free diet that leads to weight loss is usually unhealthy, and cutting gluten out of your diet goes against a healthy diet.