There is a lot of argument about going gluten free (GF) and who it’s for. I chose to go gluten free years ago after experiencing some of my own health issues, learning about gluten (gliadins and glutenins) that cause inflammation, and about the hybridization of wheat. While you may not be celiac, there are a lot of benefits to a gluten-free lifestyle, but there are a lot of other factors that need to be taken into consideration.
Cutting out gluten can dramatically improve your overall health and digestive function, but at the end of the day just switching the type of flour you use isn’t going to help you reduce inflammation or lose weight right away or immediately reverse any gut/inflammatory illness or digestive function. Conventional store-bought or pre-packaged gf products might be wheat and gluten free, but they are usually high in other inflammatory ingredients and refined sugars, and it’s the combination of carbs and sugar is what causes many people to gain weight or is the cause of their constant weight fluctuation.
Going GF does have has numerous health benefits and really does help with everything mentioned above, but what really helps is the lifestyle that develops after going GF. I found it a little more challenging to find alternative flours and substitutes at restaurants or simply didn’t want to spend the time looking for GF recipes, so I ended up consuming far less grains and substituting them with more nutritious options like fruits, vegetables and nutrient dense nuts and seeds.
A lot of people don’t realize how much their diet is based off grains-toast, bagels, and muffins for breakfast, sandwiches or burgers for lunch, pizza’s and pasta’s for dinner and to top it all off, all of the cakes, and pastries for desert. On a typical day, people consume far more grains (and not the beneficial kind) than they need to without getting enough fruits, vegetables, and clean protein and fats.
While you don’t have to cut anything out all together, try and limit yourself on empty carbs and swap your usual sandwich for an organic chard or lettuce wrap. Going GF can make a world of difference for many people, but there are still ways to improve this transition and plenty of healthier and more nutrition options instead of relying on breads and flours to be a main part of your diet.
Here are a few things to take into account when transitioning off gluten:
You’re still eating more bread-based carbs (and not the nutrient dense, beneficial kind):
- Nutritionally beneficial options are nut-based flour/meals, quinoa flour, sorghum flour, amaranth flour, oats and oat flour, chickpea flour, etc. These substitutes generally have more vitamins, minerals and plant-based protein compared to conventional, processed flour blends.
GF products and flours are high in starch:
- Although many substitutes are free of gluten, they make up for it by replacing normal flours and with large amounts of tapioca, corn, arrowroot, or potato starch along with various modified rice flours and GMO substitutes. Just because it’s gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s ok to indulge in these everyday, even if these are better substitutes.
Going GF doesn’t mean chemical free:
- Many packaged GF products contain harmful oils, syrups, preservatives, binding agents, GMO’s, and emulsifiers. Always read your labels. If there’s something you aren’t sure about or can’t even say pronounce, look up where it’s derived from. (Ex. high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, EDTA, sodium sulfite, MSG, BHA/BHT, sulfur dioxide, glazes, food coloring, etc).
GF products still have refined and processed sugar:
- That little bag of GF brownie mix or the boxed gf cake mixtures might be easy, but they’re full of processed/refined sugar! Always try to opt for something natural like coconut sugar, coconut nectar, pure maple syrup, raw honey, etc. when in need of a sugar substitute.
You’re still consuming processed dairy:
- While some people benefit greatly by going gf alone, there are still many other inflammatory agents you may be consuming-dairy being a major factor, which is also in a lot of the pre-made or frozen gf meals or dishes. Reducing as many known causes of inflammation will greatly help you improve your overall health, digestive system, and help reset and heal your body.
Cutting down on breads, grains, and gluten doesn’t mean your food has to be boring and bland. Try some of my homemade spices and seasonings to add some flavor to your dish, or see what other breads, grains and meals I have posted for some healthy cooking inspiration 🙂