Going gluten-free: is it for me?

You’ve heard this term dangled around on various snacks and menu items. The question often comes up, but there can be confusion about what exactly gluten is and why people choose to forgo it in their diet. Here’s the short version.

What is gluten?

It’s a protein!

What are sources of gluten?

  • Wheat (this is a big one)

  • Oats (unless specifically labeled as gluten-free)

  • Rye

  • Barley

  • Spelt

  • Flours (unless they are gluten-free specific)

  • Most commercially available packaged pasta, bread, crackers, pastry, and other carb products contain gluten. Always check the label when buying packaged foods.

What kind of alternatives are available?

  • Quinoa (also a great protein choice)

  • Rice (all types)

  • Buckwheat (another great protein source)

  • Gluten-free flours (chickpea/garbanzo, potato, beans, etc.)

  • (Wheatgrass and buckwheat do not contain gluten, despite the term wheat in the names.)

Why would someone go gluten-free?

  • Celiac disease

  • Gluten sensitivity

  • Autoimmune conditions

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Other health conditions, as assessed by a doctor

What about weight loss?

No. While “gluten-free” may sound like a trendy diet, it’s not. Gluten-free substitutes are generally no healthier than gluten-containing products – and they are often less healthier with additional fillers, sweeteners, and so on added to satisfy.

So is it healthier to avoid gluten?

Generally no, unless you have a specific health condition.

If you are considering going gluten-free or making significant dietary changes, it’s a good idea to check in with your naturopathic doctor or a nutrition specialist first.

May you be well.

The information provided here is not intended to replace medical advice or to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Please consult your doctor with specific questions and prior to beginning any significant diet or lifestyle changes.