What is the GF hype and does everyone need to eliminate it from their diets?
I feel as though we can’t walk down the street anymore without seeing the loud signs, eavesdropping on the faint whispers, or catching the menu-footnotes of the infamous term, “gluten.” Health experts and WebMD obsessors alike have nixed gluten off of many people’s diets. But what is the hype that has risen into public question? And does everyone need to eliminate it from their diets?
The Celiac Disease Foundation defines gluten as a protein composite found mostly in wheat, barley, and rye that helps add elasticity to dough. We can thank gluten every time we break a fresh loaf of bread in half and watch the bread slowly bend and rip.
However, for those intolerant of the germ, gluten serves as a glue in the small intestine, preventing any further digestion. It causes stomach bloating, much discomfort, lethargy and/or body rashes. The CDF warns that gluten intolerance can evolve into an autoimmune disease that creates greater susceptibility to other sicknesses, allergies, and diseases.
Grains that include gluten are not necessarily harmful for those without an aversion to gluten. In fact, whole grain breads and wheat-y substances can actually help build your body up. Those who have voluntarily given up gluten without any diagnosis or pretext may even become deficient in iron, vitamin B, and fiber.
Don’t jump on the gluten-free fad thinking it is the best thing since sliced bread. While it helps promote weight loss and overall health, gluten itself is not necessarily the sole initiator. Eliminating starches from the diet will automatically promote weight loss and avoiding processed foods alleviates strain on the body.
However, if you constantly feel as though a balloon has swollen up in your stomach and can't seem to find a fix, gluten may be the issue.
Eating out can feel intimidating, but you can always pull a couple of strings and find small ways to incorporate your gluten-free diet into any menu.
Restaurants have steadily become more aware and accommodating to your needs. Try these tips and you can once again eat good food, enjoy community, and order with a tad of creativity.
· Always ask for a gluten-free menu or any pointers on gluten-free dishes
· Avoid soy and teriyaki sauce—they contain wheat as a thickening agent
· Bring along your own salad dressing or side sauce (e.g. tamari for sushi nights)
· Ask for grilled instead of breaded/fried
· Order a lettuce-wrapped burger or sandwich
· Choose corn instead of flour tortillas
· Ask for an unwrapped burrito—no flour tortilla necessary