The truth is, not all gluten free foods are healthy gluten free foods. You can't walk through the supermarket without seeing gluten free labels all over the shelves. Companies are creating more gluten free snacks, breads, pastas, and cereals to satisfy the demand. Options are important but it's even more important to look for products with healthy ingredients.
It's estimated that 3,000,000 people are living with Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune that leads to damage in the small intestine as a result of eating foods that contain gluten (wheat, barley, and rye). It's also estimated that 9 million people eat a gluten free diet because of gastrointestinal symptoms and 7 million people choose a gluten free lifestyle to help with headaches and fogginess.
Why are People Choosing to Eat Gluten Free?
There many common symptoms people experience that lead them to try a gluten free diet. In children and babies there are actually over 200 symptoms that could be associated with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Some of them include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, weight loss and constipation. As for adults some may even experience arthritis, fatigue, bone or joint pain, depression or anxiety. As with any disease or disorder, symptoms vary and affect people on an individual basis but many people find relief from their symptoms when switching to a gluten-free diet. Read more about this in my blog post, Is Gluten Free Always Healthy?.
How to Choose Healthy Gluten free Foods
With this many people in need of allergen free foods, it's no wonder there are so many choices out there. The wide variety of products makes it even more important to read the labels closely. Once you start reading labels you'll notice that just because it says “gluten free” doesn't mean “good for you”.
Finding healthy gluten free options can be pretty simple while following these tips:
- Know all of the ingredients (make sure you can pronounce them too!)
- Look for snacks that are less than 6-8 ingredients (Less is more).
- Choose snacks that are made with refined sugar free options: maple syrup, honey, dates and other fruits. I like these bars (that are 5 ingredients and less!)
- Less packaged food the better -choose whole foods, fruits, nuts and veggies
- Watch out for ingredients like hydrogenated oil, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup and added sugars.
Eating and shopping for healthy gluten free options can be easy and doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Reading the labels, and looking for real ingredients can help in fueling your body; leaving you feeling energized, healthy and youthful!