Let me say right up front, Celiac Disease IS real and does affect almost 3 million Americans according to the University of Chicago, Celiac Disease Center. Those that have it do suffer. In some cases, many are not even diagnosed for up to four years. However, given that 3 million Americans suffer with Celiac, that is only slightly more than 1% of the American population. Yet, gluten-free products have increased 74% from 2004-2009.
So here’s my beef with the whole Gluten-Free thing. Do you remember back in the latter 80’s and early 90’s the surge in popularity of Oat Bran? It was everywhere and touted as the new solution to reducing cholesterol. How about the early 80’s, when Fat-free products took over most pantry’s and refrigerators in households across the country. And then of course, there was a new found love for many in rice, pasta and bread, why? Because they were low in fat. You could eat as much as you wanted. Yet just 20 years later, eating a slice of bread was weight loss suicide. So many trends and where are we today? Fatter than we’ve ever been, less healthy than we’ve ever been and now Gluten-free is the new black. Everyone has been led to believe (ahh the world of marketing) that gluten-free is the answer to their weight issues. ‘Sigh’ here we go again.
According to Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters, “A study from the University of California at Berkley, reports that almost one-third of Americans’ total caloric intake comes from ‘nutrient poor’ foods like sweets, salty snacks and fruit drinks. 7% of our calories come from soda-more than from vegetables- with hamburgers, pizza, pastries and potato chips following close behind.” Gluten-free has it’s share of sweets, salty-snacks, etc. But hey, they’re gluten-free, it’s all good, right? Hardly. You see, people are forever seeking out the “secret” to weight loss and gluten-free appears to be the next “golden ticket” to the world of weight loss. But in truth, Gluten-free was never intended for weight loss, in fact in some instances, calories are higher. But the real crux of my issue is that just like Fat-Free and carb-free, gluten-free products include a wide variety of cookies, cakes, chips, etc. that are flying off the shelves. Do you see where I’m going here? I don’t care WHAT diet you’re on, if you’re eating the 100 calorie snack pack, the fat-free muffin, the oat bran cereal, the gluten free sugar cookies, IT’S STILL CONTRIBUTING TO AN UNHEALTHY BODY, it’s still “carbage” no matter how you slice it.
Weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight does not come from eating fat-free, carb-free, or gluten-free. It comes from eating more vegetables than processed grains, it comes from eating more fruits that “fun fruits” (plastic fun pretending to be healthy). Weight loss comes from eating high quality foods that the body processes normally. Smaller portions, decreased fast-food and processed foods all contribute to a healthy weight. Another quote from Bittman’s book, “1 Billion people in the world are chronically hungry, 1 Billion are overweight.”
Gluten-free is not the answer to weight loss, on the contrary, it is yet another distraction in the search for a weight loss miracle. NewsFlash, there isn’t one.