I know, any mom who knows me is probably thinking, “What the heck did she just say?!” Yep, you heard me right. I don’t think anyone should be doing “The Gluten Free” diet. I don’t think it’s healthy. But before you go crazy on me, here is what I mean. ( And yes, I will cop to a more eye catching headline! )
This is what seems to happen. Someone will have symptoms, and after going to an integrative doctor or listening to a friend, she’ll decide that she needs to go gluten free. So she googles all of the gluten free versions of things that she eats or checks out a cookbook for gluten free food and then hits Whole Paychecks…..errrrr….Whole Foods. After spending about $500, she will have cabinets full of gluten free foods.
This person may start finding that she doesn’t have quite the amount of brain fog, or her digestion might start to feel better. So she feels like she has found something here and decides to continue on this way of eating. The problem is, she might still have other issues like energy crashes later in the day or arthritis that is still flaring. She may have weight that won’t come off. The thing is, this person has just changed out one processed food to another. She is not actually eating healthfully.
Gluten free foods are all the rage right now, and you will see countless articles in magazines, news reports, interviews on Dr. Oz and more. Everyone has heard about gluten free eating, and sooooo many people are going the way of gluten free (gf). Local stores like Jewel, Dominicks (do they even exist anymore?), and even Aldi are selling gluten free foods. However this is not necessarily a great thing. I have had people tell me that their doctors warn them against going gf, that the food is junk. I have to say, I somewhat agree with them. The foods that one finds labelled gluten free are usually full of high glycemic starches and grains as well as many fillers and chemicals. They are laden with sugars and preservatives. They are as someone said “Food-like products.” But I wouldn’t call them food. The thing is, while I agree with the physicians that gluten free processed food is junk, I don’t think that what they are replacing (the gluten FULL products) are any better. Not really much of a trade off. Now I have known of at least one person who literally dropped a ton of weight by doing what I am NOT recommending. For her, she actually had inflammation caused by gluten, so when she dropped the gluten, she dropped a lot of inflammation. However, she has not continued to eat the gf processed foods and is eating whole foods instead. She knew that while she had made gains, that way of eating was not healthy in the long term. Losing weight wasn’t the whole picture, and I would argue that losing weight is a byproduct of eating healthy not losing weight in order to BE healthy.
If a person decides to go gluten free, the best way is to move on to eating whole foods, foods that actually can rot, foods that don’t have unpronounceable words in the ingredient list. Of course, that requires cooking, and I can tell you that before I moved to gluten, casein and soy free with my daughter, I couldn’t cook to save my life! Oh my gosh, the panic I felt with the whole thought of cooking! The whole concept of cooking was daunting to me, and it took some time before it felt normal to do so. I learned one dish at a time, starting with the crock pot to try to imitate some of her Gerber stews and then moving on to gluten free pastas and eventually to grain free purees (she is just learning to eat solid foods this year…..well learning how to do it again after she lost that emerging skill years ago.) It has definitely been a learning experience, but now I can say that I have cooked many different types of things over the past few years. If you do not know how to cook, start with one thing. Pull up a youtube video and make that one dish. Start with something simple and be easy with yourself. It WILL come with time. And one day, gluten free whole foods cooking will become second nature to you. If it did for me, it will for you.
If you have been doing gluten free processed foods, I encourage you to slowly start to add in real foods and wean yourself off of the processed food. I am not God, but I can almost guarantee that you will begin to feel even better that you did when you first removed gluten from your diet. You may discover that you have fewer blood sugar crashes and better digestion. You may have more energy and clearer skin. Maybe your thinking will be clearer. You will not regret it. I have never met anyone who has, and I know a LOT of families who eat some variety of gluten free and real food. Go for it! You’ve got this!