Did you ever hear about junk vegetarians? Will eat anything as long as it doesn’t have meat? You know well that there’s an awful lot of processed food that doesn’t have meat: potato chips, gummy bears, Twinkies… the junk vegetarian somehow thinks they’ll be fine just as long as no meat or meat by-product crosses his lips.
I see a similar trend rising up amongst the so-called gluten-free (GF) people (please note I am GF myself). I call them GF junkies.
A few years ago I went to a Celiac Disease meeting wanting to learn more about the GF lifestyle. What I learned is that there’s a lot of sugar and trans-fats loaded junk that’s GF! I didn’t see or hear anything that would help me improve my health.
Going GF is for sure not a small change. You do have to start paying attention to the food you eat, but this is supposed to be a good change. It’s not about exchanging your frosted wheat flakes for frosted rice flakes. It’s about starting to make your own breakfast.
To me — and several clients that I’ve coached through becoming GF — this was an opportunity to get familiar with different and delicious foods that create health.
The focus on the foods that we can’t eat (pasta, bread, baked goods, etc) has created this huge market of GF products to replace them (GF pasta, GF bread, GF baked goods, etc). I don’t know how good having this convenience is, but what I do know is that the quality of these products is, for the most part, as low or lower than the original ones they’re supposed to replace.
Let’s take a look at a couple of labels:
GF Lemon Cream Filled Wafers:
Potato starch, vegetable fat (rapeseed & palm), sugar, corn starch, grape sugar, natural lemon flavor (0.89%), emulsifier: soy lecithin, thickener: guar gum, acidifier: citric acid, cocoa powder defatted, color: beta carotene, raising agent: ammonium bicarbonate, antioxidant: ascorbic acid
GF Chocolate Dipped Donuts:
Icing (Sugar, water, glucose, cocoa powder), Sugar, White Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Water, Whole Eggs, Sweet Rice Flour, non Hydrogenated Shortening(Palm Fruit or Canola), Fructooligosaccharide, Yeast, Pea Protein, Egg Whites, Xanthan Gum, Fruit Concentrate (dextrose, dextrin, fiber), Salt, Rice Bran Extract, Cellulose, KinnActive Baking Powder, Glucono Delta Lactone, Sodium Bicarbonate, Nutmeg
Somehow, the GF junkie thinks this stuff is “health food”?! I’ll let you come to your own conclusions.
If you need — or want — to get gluten out of your diet, the key to make the transition meaningful for your health is to focus on all the stuff that you CAN eat. Let’s see: there’s all kinds of veggies and fruits, nuts, all kinds of animal products, sea veggies, beans…
You can eat LOTS of different foods. You are going to be OK.
I am not going to say that I don’t eat a cookie here and there. But I try to make it a real food cookie, not a processed one.
Anyway, here’s a few thoughts about going GF:
- First of all, if you have a hard time digesting gluten, you have a sensitive digestive system. It’s very likely that you’ll do better reducing your intake of grains — even GF ones. I have learned from experience with my clients as well as my own that gluten-sensitive people, tend to thrive in grain-free diets. Could this be your case? You can only know by experimenting.
- OK. Let’s say you can’t live without grains. Still, do you really need to have your pantry chock-full of GF cookies, cakes and boxed cereal? Personally, the fact that there are all these foods that make me sick when I eat them, makes it that much easier to stay away from impostors that don’t add to my nutrition anyway.
- Gluten-free processed products are extremely expensive! The food industry has this way to come up with “convenient solutions”… at a very steep price. If a box of regular “healthy” cereal costs $3, a box of GF boxed cereal costs $4.50. Are you kidding me? This stuff is pretty much empty calories mixed with artificial vitamins anyway. A box of really nice pastured eggs will cost you between $3 and $8, depending on where you live, and it will give you six nutrient dense, GF breakfasts.
We’re missing the point here. Going gluten-free is supposed to help you get healthier. It’s not about how much sugar and processed foods you can get away with eating without having gluten.
This post is part of Cheeseslave’s Real Food Wednesday.