I still consider myself new to the gluten-free world. I was diagnosed in December 2009 and still remember being confused about why I was getting sick when I was buying products that said “gluten-free.” Over time I am learning that just because something says “gluten-free” does not mean it truly is. Celebrities are trying out the gluten-free diet and more and more people are hearing about this nasty protein called gluten. Much like “all natural” there is nothing to regulate the usage of the two words “gluten-free.” These two phrases are being used by companies to justify charging a little more for their product because people think, well, this must be good for me! Neither of these terms are regulated by the FDA, which means we need to become educated consumers.
There are many benefits to a gluten-free diet even if you do not have an allergy or celiac disease. Benefits include: reduction in joint pain, more energy, reduced inflammation in the gut and weight loss, among others.
There are some misconceptions/common traps of gluten-free foods:
– foods are healthier- many packaged gluten-free foods are higher in calories and fat than their gluten containing counter parts. Just because it says it is gluten-free does not mean it is low in fat or low-calorie.
– relying on a lot of processed foods- when I was first diagnosed I was obsessed with crackers, pastas, pizzas and breads that were gluten-free just because they were labeled “gluten-free.” While it is nice to find substitutes, our diets should not rely heavily on processed foods. Fruits, vegetables and beans are all gluten-free and should still be a major part of our diet.
What that means to those of us with celiac disease:
– foods that are processed on the same equipment where wheat or gluten containing products are made are being labeled gluten-free. Many products will have a disclaimer if they are manufactured on shared equipment but not all do.
– companies are coming up with varieties of logos and phrases to make us think foods are Certified Gluten-Free
– look for products that say “Certified Gluten-Free” and have this logo
– FDA needs to regulate the use of “gluten-free”
– Restaurants need to have two different menus one for gluten-free and one that is celiac safe, as Vesta Dipping Grille in Denver, Colorado has done.
What are your thoughts?