What Does Gluten Free Mean?

Article by: Deanna Nichols, RD, CMHC
Salt Lake Weight Counseling Registered Dietitian and Certified Mental Health Counselor

gluten While walking through the grocery store, no one would blame you for believing everyone should be on a gluten free diet.  Gluten free products are available everywhere. Gluten free foods are very important for people who have been diagnosed with Celia disease, but millions of others avoid gluten, well, just because.  Many believe it will help lose weight, decrease GI distress, or just make them feel better.  Like the New York Times cartoon said, “I have no idea what gluten is, but I’m avoiding it, just to be safe.”

Unfortunately, companies are jumping on the bandwagon of gluten free foods and consumers are buying them.  For example, Simply Cheetos Puffs boasts gluten free but that is because it is made mostly from corn meal and oil.  Whole Foods has a whole line of Gluten Free Bakehouse sweets.  Nutrition Action Healthletter reports that “a single one has enough rice flour, butter, heavy cream, sugar, and other ingredients to supply 390 calories and 12 grams (half a day’s worth) of saturated fat.” (Nutrition Action Healthletter, Oct. 2014, pg 7)  Don’t plan on losing weight from these foods.  Gluten free does not equal healthy!

Gluten free may be the “in” diet right now, but don’t be fooled, gluten-free is only essential for those with Celiac disease, not to mention, it is a very expensive diet. Going “gluten free” is also another way to keep you stuck in the diet mentality. It creates a lot of extra work and emotional investment and is just another way to obsess about food. If you truly have an allergy to gluten, avoid it, but don’t use it as another fad diet keeping you stuck in your dysfunctional relationship with food! It is particularly dangerous if you have a history of binge eating. Depriving yourself of certain foods sets off binge eating bouts like clockwork. The best course of action is sticking to eating these foods in moderation and taking an intuitive eating approach.

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

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