Going gluten-free isn’t a great weight-loss plan. The reason I say this is because the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “Giving Up Gluten to Lose Weight? Not So Fast.” which my mom kindly saved for me.
On one hand, I am always happy to see articles like this intended to remind people that removing something from your diet may not help you lose weight. It’s not a magic answer to everyone’s weight issues. However, I feel like the authors don’t entirely explain the reason why SOME people lose weight (which is actually inflammation) and others don’t. They harp on products rather than truly explaining to people the process behind going gluten-free. So it’s no wonder why swapping out the gluten-filled brownies for the gluten-free ones might not change things for the better.
Yes, eating gluten-free has changed my life, mind and body, but it’s not necessary for everyone. While my sister is totally fine consuming gluten and didn’t even notice a single shift in weight after going GF for one month, my experience was quite different. I lost nearly 20 pounds.
The most important thing to know was that I didn’t lose fat. My body was ridding itself of inflammation that built up over the years. It was not a weight-loss gimmick, but rather an unintended side effect for my particular situation — gluten intolerance. So with my clients, I focus the conversation more toward what is uniquely causing inflammation in their system than relying on a ‘diet’ of sorts.
Is it bad that there are places springing up that offer GF alternatives to regular foods at, say, a baseball park? No. It’s great because it gives people like myself an option to eat out. In the past I’ve had to completely avoid going to events like baseball games because there was probably nothing that I could eat in the stadium and security certainly wasn’t going to let me bring anything in. So, I didn’t go. Now I feel more excited to enjoy the baseball games knowing that I can feel just as ‘normal’ as everyone else. Mind you, I’m certainly not going to delude myself into thinking that GF hot dogs and beer is some how healthy and neither should you.
The larger problem is that the average gluten-free person doesn’t know how to translate and understand gluten-free and nutrition labeling. Just because products are marked GF doesn’t mean they aren’t highly processed. They are often loaded with sugar and other unhealthy fats. However the real problem is how the general population has accepted and translated the marketing by the GF food companies (though this issue certainly isn’t exclusive to the GF world). We see certain labels on a box and have either been told or sort of fooled ourselves into thinking that this means healthy when it simply does not. I wrote about this topic before to explain that we are mesmerized by the idea of ‘healthy’.
The GF label is NOT a free pass to the ‘all you can eat’ buffet of sweets and other packaged goods.
Ultimately, we as individuals need to learn to read food labels and truly understand what is in the packaged food that we’re buying. Obviously it’s better to eat food that has no wrapper (ie. fresh fruit and veggies), but having small quantities isn’t the end of the world. Yes, I still eat some GF pasta and vegan, GF pastries on occasion. The key is moderation.