Going gluten free is one of the most talked about diet trends out there today, so much so that it’s become a bit of a cliché – but is it all it’s cracked up to be? I certainly feel that afternoon slump (and often tummy aches) after a delicious pizza, yummy bowl of pasta or even just a piece of toast, so is experimenting with cutting out gluten the answer and should you go gluten free?
Despite the buzz, going gluten free is a very personal choice. Each person is different; each body is different and we all react differently to various things. Scientifically, going gluten free has been proven to promote digestive health, increase energy levels and reduce bloating. It can help increase general awareness around the foods you’re eating, making you more in tune with your body and its needs. But what about my love for toast, do I have to cut it out completely to feel healthier?
It would seem not (thank goodness) and it has actually been shown that going entirely gluten free can have some negative effects too. This is of course not the case for coeliacs or for people who’ve tested intolerant to gluten but if you’re following it to try it out, there are always going to be some cons as there are with any diet. Removing a specific food group will inevitably remove important nutrients needed for a healthy diet. The majority of ‘gluten-free’ products are very low in fibre, and cheat you out of the benefits of whole grains. A lot of them also have a lot of sugar in so if you’re going gluten free to lose weight, think again. Yes reducing the amount of gluten you eat can help with bloating and digestive issues but should you go gluten free completely? Not unless you need to. Carbs should make up 55-60% of a balanced diet, and we need fibre and vitamins from whole grains. For weight loss, there are far healthier, cheaper and easier ways.
The social stigma surrounding gluten free has really turned it into a fad diet. A lot of people who strictly follow the diet have been poorly informed by celebrities and the media that is it is a far superior healthy choice! So, instead, it’s important to really know what you’re doing (and why you’re doing it) before you do. People who eat foods that are naturally gluten-free like fruit, veg, lean protein and healthy fats, can have a healthy gluten-free diet. But completely replacing gluten products with highly processed “gluten-free” alternatives is often unhealthier than the original gluten product and can cause significant weight gain.
So should you go gluten free forever? I don’t think so. Perhaps a reduced gluten rather than a zero gluten diet might be the way forward! I can’t live without my Sunday morning croissants so I’m not going to! Being aware of your gluten intake and attempting to minimise it will give you all the healthy benefits, whilst still enjoying the occasional treat!
Below are some of my top gluten-free faves that AREN’T full of processed sugar
- Waitrose Free From sourdough bread (made with rice flour and perfect as toast)
- M&S Made Without Wheat pizza bases
- 3 Ingredient Brownies – (banana, cocoa powder and almond butter/peanut butter) Great recipe here
- Chickpea pasta
- Gluten-free Almond Cake (great amount of fibre and protein because of the almond meal base, which is often lacking from gluten free products) A great recipe here
Let me know your thoughts about whether you should go gluten free or not. I’d be interested to hear your views!