Healthy Living

Are You Gluten Intolerant Or Just *Think* You Are?

Since becoming a Holistic Health Coach, the one question I am asked about most is: Should I go gluten free to lose weight?That one question exemplifies the power of marketing and the food industry. Let’s delve into gluten and who should avoid it a little deeper…

Gluten is the group of proteins found in many grains. It could be used for giving baked goods their elasticity, as a flavor enhancer, or thickening agent. Unfortunately, many people are intolerant or sensitive to gluten. Disorders associated with gluten intolerance and sensitivity are Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the intestines when gluten is eaten. If you’re experiencing nausea, stomach pains, diarrhea, chronic fatigue, brain fog, abdominal bloating… go to your doctor. The best way to know if you have Celiac Disease is through diagnostic tests.

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is not an autoimmune disorder, nor is there a disease definition yet. The symptoms are similar to Celiac Disease, however there is no damage to the intestinal tract.

Now we have some background on gluten and disorders associated with it. The question is: Is giving up gluten a weight loss diet, too? In 2013, The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness published estimates on who is eating gluten free: Celiac Disease, 1% of the population; Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, 6% of the population; other gluten related disorders, 1% of the population; and Health Concerns/Lifestyle, 23% of the population.

GF diets have developed the “halo” of eating healthy and weight-loss myths. By going GF, you’re giving up a whole range of foods that nutritionally feed your body to function at its optimal best. You could be missing vital B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber. Most likely, the food replacing gluten products will be processed, packaged food. These you need to beware of!

Being labeled gluten free doesn’t equate with healthy, or weight loss. Junk food will always be junk food. The food and restaurant industry is making HUGE profits off of labeling their products and menus GF. In fact, by 2018, GF retail sales are estimated to be $6.2 BILLION. That’s not to say there is zero validity to all these products, but by and large: buyer beware. Read your labels.
If you do have Celiac Disease, or have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, plant-based proteins like beans, nuts and seeds. Add in lean meats, poultry, fish, and dairy (when tolerated). Eat certified GF oats, quinoa, millet, amaranth, buckwheat, GMO-free corn, nut flours, and bean flours.

If you want to lose weight… change your way of thinking. There’s no magic fix, or diet (a word I truly despise. It sounds like punishment). It’s about your lifestyle. Don’t beat yourself up over a number on a scale. Really focus on who you want to be emotionally, physically, and mentally. Commit to making sustainable changes every day that you can live with and enjoy. You CAN lose weight in a way that works for YOU!

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