The gluten-free diet has grown into a national movement and is only getting more popular. It’s estimated that less than 1% of Americans have celiac disease, and about 6% have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity – so why is the gluten-free diet so popular? It’s clear that some people are choosing to go gluten-free for reasons other than celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. If you’re one of these people, or if you’re thinking about beginning the diet, there are a few things you need to consider.
First, you should not diagnose yourself. If you’re having symptoms related to celiac disease then make an appointment with your doctor, the only person who can diagnose you. If you are found to have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, study up on the gluten-free diet, ask experienced gluten-free dieters for advice, and proceed with your new lifestyle. If not, the gluten-free diet may not be right for you.
It’s a Tough Lifestyle
Going gluten-free isn’t easy. You can kiss most processed foods goodbye, because they will typically contain gluten or are processed in a factory that handles wheat. As a result, each meal needs to be planned in advance so you don’t find yourself hungry and without a safe meal. Like going out to eat? Well, very few restaurants cater to the gluten-free community (although some are making an effort!), so you’ll no longer be able to go out on a whim.
Going gluten-free is far from easy, so be prepared for a challenge if you’re going to try.
Nutrient Deficiencies Are Serious
Cutting out foods that contain gluten is not easy – it requires a lot of hard work and research to ensure you maintain a balanced, healthy diet. One of the biggest dangers is missing key vitamins and nutrients, such as fiber, iron, and vitamin B12, to name a few. If you’re seriously considering going gluten-free, you need to closely monitor your food intake to ensure you get the required amount of nutrients. You should also consider taking a multivitamin, but do not rely on one – nutrient-rich foods are always better for you!
Weight Gain (And Loss!)
Another concern about going gluten-free on a whim is that it can lead to weight gain – or weight loss. Let us explain…
It can be easy to gain weight on the gluten-free diet because many companies use fatty ingredients to replace gluten, such as eggs, butter, and oils. As a result, you may consume more calories than you’re aware of, leading to unexpected weight gain. And, if you’re not exercising regularly then the problem only gets worse.
While weight gain is one issue, you also need to avoid weight loss. If you jump into the gluten-free diet unprepared then you might find yourself confused about what’s safe to eat, as well as where to eat when out and about. As a result, some people skip meals because they didn’t prepare in advance. This can lead to unhealthy weight loss, not to mention nutrient deficiencies. If you’re considering the gluten-free diet, you need to do your homework and make sure you’re properly prepared for the challenge.
The Choice is Yours
At the end of the day, you are in control of your diet and the decision is yours. Again, our suggestion is to talk with your doctor about the reasons you’re considering going gluten-free. They will know what’s best for you, can offer healthy alternatives, and will provide you with the information needed to make the best decision. If you do decide to go gluten-free, take a look through our survival guide for tips and advice on how to succeed!