WETZEL: Debunking some gluten-free myths
LIVING AGAINST THE GRAIN
Free Press Health Columnist
I get a lot of questions on why I eat gluten-free and when I tell them that I have celiac disease, and that wheat is a definite no-no, I get mixed reactions. Some people say: “Well, you can have just a little bit” or “you mean you can’t have bread?” So I wanted to write this article on the myths and facts of eating gluten-free.
1. Eating gluten-free is a great weight loss plan: False. While people have had success losing weight with a gluten-free diet, it isn’t a weight loss plan; it’s a way of life. The reason that many people lose weight is because they stick to a “meat and potatoes” or a natural way of eating, a healthier way of eating!
2. “A little bit of wheat won’t hurt you.”: False. With celiac disease, gluten intolerance and wheat allergies, a little bit can hurt. I liken it to a peanut allergy: If you have an allergy/intolerance, you want to stay away from it or it could be harmful. Now, if you have a wheat allergy compared to celiac disease, you may choose to indulge from time to time and put up with the skin rash or reaction you get from having wheat. If you have celiac disease, you must stay away!
3. Gluten-free foods are always healthy: False. If you’ve been in the gluten-free section of the freezer aisle or the gluten-free aisle at the grocery store, you’ve seen the gluten-free cookies, cake mixes and donuts. Just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s healthier for you. In fact, I sometimes find myself eating tortilla chips for dinner because it’s easy, but it’s not healthy to do that all the time!
4. The gluten-free diet is expensive: True. Gluten-free isn’t the cheapest diet even if you’re moving to a more Paleo-type diet. Whether it’s pre-packaged foods or you have decided to stick to a meat and veggies diet, it’s not cheap. For example, your typical loaf of white bread is probably between $1.50-$3 depending on brand. With gluten-free bread it usually runs $5-$6. If you are looking for a cheap diet, this isn’t it!
5. Gluten-free foods don’t taste good. False. For a long time gluten-free foods weren’t all that tasty. Breads were like cardboard, pastas hard, but time has changed that and now most of your friends and family won’t even know when they are eating gluten-free!
Those are just a few of the myths that I’ve heard. If you have more questions, feel free to email me, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Angela Wetzel has celiac disease and is president of Gluten Free Grand Valley, a support group for those with celiac disease and wheat allergies. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Gluten Free Grand Valley on Facebook.
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