While eating a gluten-free diet can be life changing for people who have certain conditions, it can be less meaningful for others. Gluten-free is an ever expanding movement in the natural health community. There are some good reasons for this and some bad reasons. Eating gluten-free can save a person's life, seriously. A person with Celiac Disease must follow this diet to save their own life and prevent serious diseases down the road. This is the reason why the gluten-free movement has evolved into what it is today. There seems to be some serious confusion on why people choose this diet. For a Celiac sufferer, it is not a choice.
Personally, I am not diagnosed with Celiac disease. Natural health and nutrition is my life (obviously!) so I am pretty in tune with my body. I've experimented with hundreds of different diets and put a lot of thought and energy into understanding how I feel when I eat a certain way. Out of all this experience I found that I react to gluten. Can this be reversed? Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is that I am considered non-celiac gluten sensitive. Research is still being done on this condition, some studies have even shown that this is not a real thing but being a person of this group I beg to differ. I'll tell you a story…
A couple months ago, my husband brought home what he thought was a gluten-free cake. I'm usually pretty meticulous about reading labels but this time I just assumed he had read it. After dinner, the kids went to bed and I sat down to relax and eat a piece of cake. Within minutes of finishing a slice my stomach puffed out and it looked as though I was having a third child. This is a clear sign that inflammation was building inside my gut. I've heard about this happening to Celiac patients when they get “glutened” so I immediately ran over to read the label on the cake box. Sure enough, the ingredients included wheat flour. This experience was a clear reminder of how sensitive I am to gluten and proof to me that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is real.
Obviously, I believe in the health benefits of a gluten-free diet for those who need it BUT there are some terrible reasons to start a gluten-free diet. People who know what I do for a living always talk to me about this stuff so I hear some crazy things! Here are my 5 reasons NOT to go gluten free…
1. Everyone else is doing it
Peer pressure is never a smart thing to give in to. If you hear about friends doing well on a gluten-free diet and you try it just because they are doing it, it's probably useless. A gluten-free diet is not quite that simple. You need to look at all areas of your diet and anything you put on your skin. It is a lifestyle overhaul, not a fad diet.
On the other hand, if someone in your household needs to go on a gluten-free diet for a specific condition, then by all means be supportive and join them! Just make sure you are doing it in a healthy way and not just eating gluten-free processed foods.
2. To eat healthy
If you have no reason to suspect a food intolerance and you just want to eat a healthier diet, gluten-free is not for you. The first thing to do if you want to eat a healthier diet is to cut out all processed foods and eat only whole foods. Focus on “clean” eating first. Later on in your journey you may find reason to look at food intolerances but this is not the place to start if you just want to eat healthy.
3. To lose 5 pounds
Losing weight is a common benefit you will hear people say they got after going gluten-free. When people who want to lose weight hear this, they think it's the next best thing since sliced bread (no pun intended). People who lose weight on a gluten-free diet are either healing their gut due to the damage done by a gluten intolerance or celiac disease or they are eating a whole foods diet with less refined carbs. The latter is the way to lose weight…and this can be done regardless of being on a gluten-free diet or not.
4. If you are still going to eat gluten anyway
I came across a silly video online last week from JP Sears that is poking fun at people who become gluten-free for no good reason. I got a good laugh out of it but seriously he is making some good points. If you are going to be gluten-free only some of the time and then go and eat gluten in the privacy of your own home, then obviously there is no point. You probably don't need to do it so don't waste money on expensive and un-healthy gluten-free processed foods.
5. You don't have one of these three conditions
There are only three reasons why one needs to eat a gluten-free diet.
- Celiac Disease
- Wheat allergy
- Non-Celiac gluten sensitivity / gluten intolerance
If you don't have one of these three things then you don't need to eat a gluten-free diet. A healthy whole foods “clean” diet is best. I do believe that most everyone should eat very little gluten, it should be looked at as more like a treat rather then an everyday staple. Also, since gluten sensitivity is very hard to diagnose in the traditional medical sense (meaning there is no blood test for it) I believe that there are many more people who have this condition then you may think. It is becoming more and more prevalent, especially among children.
If you suspect that you or someone in your family might have one of these three conditions, an elimination diet is in order. The way to do this is to abstain from all possible allergens for a full 7 days and then slowly test each allergen one by one and record the reactions. This is the best way to figure out if you need to eat a gluten-free diet without any expensive testing.
I have a free video training that is going to be released very soon. One of the videos will detail exactly how to follow an elimination diet, if you think you might need to try this make sure you sign up here to get the free video series.