At this point, almost everyone is aware of the massive gluten free movement that has swept through our country. And largely for good reason. So many people have an intolerance or an allergic reaction to gluten, the protein found in many grains – including wheat, rye, barley and kamut. Gluten has been linked to many concerns and although these are typically based on the individual, removing refined carbohydrates (like breads, crackers, cookies, etc.) helps people reduce inflammation, lose weight, balance hormones and take a first step in healing the gut and regaining energy.
However, there are a few things to be aware of if going gluten-free is something you would like to consider. Let’s walk through some of the most common mistakes:
Mistake #1: Assuming gluten free = healthy
Overall, going gluten free is a great choice for so many simply because our bodies were never meant to consume that amount of gluten in the first place (3 meals a day, 365 days a year). Also, since the 1940’s wheat plants have been altered to contain 3x as much gluten than its ancestors to help with crop production and larger yields. Eating this modified wheat has contributed to a host of chronic issues and illnesses so just by removing it would make someone healthier. The problem is that the gluten free aisles in grocery stores are riddled with products void of gluten, but full of sugar . So my point is…not all gluten free products are healthy and you must read the label to determine if there is added sugar. Personally, I would not buy any product that has more than 4grams of sugar per serving listed on the nutritional label or else you’re just swapping out one inflammatory food with another.
Mistake #2: Assuming going gluten free = magical cure
Removing gluten from your diet is most likely a smart move. However, if you’ve removed gluten from your diet and seem to plateau with your results, chances are a few things are happening. Here are some common explanations: 1) You allow yourself some “cheat” meals that contain gluten. Depending on your situation, there might be a time and place or a gluten “cheat meal” if you desire, but not during the initial phase of removing gluten. Your body might take 3-6 months or longer to heal from decades of abuse. 2) You haven’t removed all your trigger foods. Everyone is different, so if you’ve hit a plateau with your progress, you may have other inflammatory foods in your system outside of gluten to get rid of. Removing some other common trigger foods like dairy, soy, eggs, and nuts may help to yield more specific results. 3) There are other underlying conditions going on that need an integrative approach. Eating gluten free can be a good start, but an individual process must continue for progress to take place. A full lab workup from your practitioner is a good starting place to get some answers.
Despite what you may have heard, removing gluten is not a one all fix all strategy, however, in many cases, it’s a good first step strategy.
Mistake #3: Going gluten free = deprivation
Many people assume that going gluten free will deprive them of amazing foods and yes, options will need to shift, but I can assure you that you won’t feel deprived for long. Honestly, the number one complaint I get from people going gluten free is that they won’t be able to have pizza anymore. However, so many pizzerias and grocery stores are now carrying gluten free crusts that taste amazing! I personally love the cauliflower crust in the freezer section from Trader Joe’s. As long as you are consuming a nutrient-dense diet full of anti-inflammatory food choices, your body will shift to crave the foods it needs to heal and to feel vibrant.