How Healthy Is A Gluten Free Diet?

gluten free

Going gluten-free is one of the most popular trends in dieting today.  Americans spent $1.6 billion on gluten-free products last year — a lot of money considering only 3 million Americans actually suffer from Celiac disease or  gluten-intolerance.

So does switching to a gluten-free diet really help you slim down?  Simply put, no.  In fact, replacing wheat-based foods in your diet with gluten-free products may actually lead to weight gain, since these products are often higher in calories and fat than conventional products (because they’ve had to account for big losses in flavor and texture).  They also tend to be denser in texture, so the recommended portion size is smaller–something most consumers don’t notice.

From a health standpoint, the outlook isn’t much better.  Sure, if going gluten-free made you rely more heavily on vegetables, fruits, fish, beans, low-fat dairy products, and alternative whole grains, you’d be in business.  But consumers usually turn to gluten-free crackers, breads, pastas, baked goods, etc. which in addition to the downsides mentioned above, also tend to be lower in fiber, vitamins, and iron.  And since going gluten-free means avoiding wheat, barley, spelt, kamut, triticale, and rye, this type of lifestyle means missing out on a lot of naturally-occurring fiber and nutrients.

The moral of the story: Unless you’ve tested positive for Celiac disease, it’s best not to give up gluten.  If you find that your belly aches after eating a big plate of pasta or a hunk of French bread, try this: eat more veggies, fruits, & lean proteins, and keep your intake of refined carbs to a minimum.  I can almost promise you’ll feel better…and you’ll probably lose weight.


  • The Leftoverist
    September 9, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Fianlly! A voice of sanity in the GF craziness! Really wise advice here.

  • cori
    January 28, 2011 at 9:54 am

    thanks. really helpful!

  • kari
    January 29, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    by chance, is this a picture of the rolls at cochon in new orleans?? i would NEVER give up gluten if it meant i could not eat delicious, buttery rolls…in moderation, of course!!

  • Amelia
    January 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    OMG I can’t believe you recognized the rolls!! That is so awesome. I could go to Cochon and order nothing else – they are perfection 😉

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