There is an increasing number of people who are opening up to the idea of consuming gluten free food. Some people are doing this out of necessity, while others are following a trend that is becoming more and more mainstream with each passing day. According to certain studies, about 30% of American adults are drawn towards gluten free foods. Part of the reason why the gluten free diet has piqued the interest of people has to do with how well these products have been marketed throughout the country. Then again, you can’t deny the fact that most of the people who are willing to try out gluten free food are doing so because they genuinely believe that it will make a positive difference to their health.
There is no concrete evidence that we can use to determine whether the rise in consumption of gluten free food is a temporary phenomenon or a permanent change in the taste of American consumers. However, gluten free food isn’t going to go away anytime soon, regardless of whether you think it is trendy or necessary.
Before you decide to embark on your gluten free journey, there are certain confusions and misconceptions that you should clear. We are here to help you do exactly that. The following are five things you should know before going gluten free.
1) Being Gluten Free Is Not Always a Choice
People often associate the choice of going gluten free with dietary preferences such as veganism. It is high time that you realize that there is a massive difference between vegans and those who go gluten free. When you adopt a vegan diet, you are making a conscious choice to not eat meat or any other animal products. Consuming meat or animal products in this case will not put your health at risk. However, when it comes to going gluten free, there are certain people who are required to do so because their health depends on it.
According to some estimates, 15 of the American population suffer from a condition called celiac disease. For those of you who are not aware, celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes severe damage to the small intestine when gluten enters the digestive system. Avoiding gluten is not really a choice for these people. It is simply something that they need to do in order to live a normal, healthy life.
In addition to celiac disease, there are a few other conditions that can compel you to take gluten off the menu. One of them includes wheat allergy. Once again, this is a fairly common condition as it affects about 0.4% of the American population. As the name suggests, the consumption of wheat (which contains a significant amount of gluten) causes these people to give off an allergic reaction which may appear in the form of skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms.
Furthermore, there is a much larger section of the American population that suffers from a specific condition known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The symptoms are not too different from the ones mentioned above, but this condition isn’t exactly well understood by medical health experts. Studies suggest that around 18 million Americans suffer from gluten sensitivity.
2) People On a Gluten Free Diet Are Usually Mocked
Your friends, family and acquaintances may not be very supportive of your choice to go gluten free. The reason for that is quite simple. They will make the assumption that your choice is inspired by the extravagant diets of celebrities (who usually prefer to go gluten free). Hence, they will label you as a pretentious individual who is seeking attention by adopting an abnormal diet.
Under such circumstances, the onus is on you to explain to them why you are either choosing or finding the need to go gluten free. As long as you can support your explanation with valid scientific arguments, your family and friends won’t bug you (well, most of them won’t).
3) You Don’t Have to Let Go of All Grains
Some people have the misconception that going gluten free equates to giving up on grains. Not all the grains in the world contain gluten. Some of them are perfectly compatible with a gluten free diet. There are plenty of gluten free grains that you can choose from including millet, buckwheat and amaranth.
4) There’s Gluten Under Cover
Wheat is an obvious source of gluten. But in some cases, it is hard to determine whether the food contains gluten or not. For example, did you know that vegan veggie burgers and salad dressings can contain gluten? You can also find gluten in medications and supplements.
5) You Don’t Have to Abandon Your Favourite Restaurant
Being gluten free can make your life quite difficult at times. But there’s no reason to believe that you can no longer dine at your favourite restaurant. Today, there are more restaurants than ever who are willing to take your special dietary needs into consideration. In fact, there are specific restaurants that cater to gluten free customers only.