The Gluten-free Diet
Gluten-free products have definitely gained favour in recent months: breakfast cereals, deli meats, pasta, granola bars, you name it! For people suffering from celiac disease (allergy or intolerance to gluten) or dermatitis herpetiformis, eliminating gluten from their diet is a treatment in itself. However, more and more people turn to the gluten-free diet with the hope of losing weight. What should we think of this new trend?
First of all, what is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, but also in many other grains such as rye, oats, barley, triticale, Khorasan wheat (commonly called kamut), and spelt. Most cereal products (bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, gruel, crackers), some yogurts, cheese, soups, alcohols, sauces, ready-made dishes, marinated or breaded meats, as well as the majority of commercial desserts contain gluten.
Gluten-free diet: the flip side
There is no doubt that the gluten-free diet helps managing the symptoms of celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis. Otherwise, there are many disadvantages to eliminating this protein from your diet, particularly with the aim of losing weight:
- Gluten-free products are often more expensive than their regular counterparts. For example, at IGA, 227g of gluten-free GOGO QUINOA® spaghetti cost $4,29, while 375g of CATELLI SMART® spaghetti cost $1,99.
- Reading the nutrition facts labels to find traces of gluten can take a lot of time for those who don’t know much about it.
- Many studies have shown that gluten-free products contain less iron, fiber, and some important vitamins such thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and folic acid (B9). If the rest of your diet is not planned accordingly, you run the risk of deficiency in one or more of these nutrients.
- It has not been proven that eliminating gluten helps losing weight. A balanced diet and regular physical activity are still the best way to accomplish this goal!
To sum it up, if you want to begin a gluten-free diet, I suggest that you meet with a nutritionist first, who will help you make smart choices concerning gluten-free products and make sure that you meet your nutrients requirements, despite the long list of forbidden foods!
By Vanessa Martin