In the last few years the gluten free fad has taken off, with celebs promoting the virtues of a gluten-free diet, and lots more products hitting the shelves. This is good news for sufferers of coeliac disease - but more and more people are choosing to follow a gluten-free diet or cut down on foods containing gluten when they don't actually have to. Here are some reasons to be wary of the gluten free fad …
1. Unnecessary Avoidance
One of the problems with the gluten free fad is that not everyone who follows it actually needs to avoid gluten. You should only follow a gluten-free diet if you have been diagnosed with a medical problem like coeliac disease or a gluten sensitivity and advised by your doctor to avoid it. Otherwise you are cutting out a lot of nutrition from your diet when you don't need to do so.
Coeliac sufferers have no alternative but to avoid gluten. Consuming it will make them ill. But it doesn't make sense to cut it out if you don't need to. Avoiding gluten makes shopping and cooking very complicated. Eating out requires a lot of planning and careful checking. So why make your life more difficult than it needs to be?
Perhaps you're having symptoms and think that they may be caused by gluten. But self-diagnosis may mean that the genuine reason for your symptoms goes overlooked. Problems with gluten need to be diagnosed by your doctor by testing your blood and taking a biopsy. You should never decide for yourself that you're going to cut out gluten - if you think that cutting out gluten improves your symptoms, discuss it with your doctor.
There's more gluten-free products on the market now, but they do tend to be rather more expensive than other products. Eat gluten-free when you don't have to and you're going to be bumping up your grocery bills. If you don't have a genuine problem with gluten, you'd do better to channel your funds into buying organic produce and healthy ingredients.
Cut out gluten, and you could be missing out on important nutrients. You could also start (or continue) relying on too many pre-packaged foods, rather than taking the healthy option of cooking from scratch.
Gluten-free products may be a bit of a con. Many products are proudly labelled 'gluten-free' as if to imply that the product is somehow better for you, which is only the case if you suffer from a genuine problem. However, it can be used as a marketing tool if the products never have gluten in them anyway. They may also be high in fat - which is far from healthy.
A gluten-free label may encourage you to eat something that's not actually that healthy simply because you mistakenly assume that gluten-free is always better for you. It isn't, unless you're a coeliac sufferer. Gluten-free isn't going to automatically make you healthy otherwise.
If you have a genuine problem with gluten, then cutting it out is medically necessary and is guaranteed to make you feel better. But be wary of assuming that it's a problem when the chances are that it isn't. If you think it's causing symptoms, always consult your doctor. Have you ever followed a diet such as gluten-free?