As of January 1 I decided to go gluten free, and I’ve received questions and tilted heads when people ask, “do you want a piece of bread with that?” and I say no. In general, the flux of misinformation out there has caused a lot of people to think negatively about certain foods. Here’s my perspective.
What is gluten?
The fact is that gluten is a general name for proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together (Think, bread). It’s found in many types of foods, including breads, baked goods, soups, pasta, cereals, sauces, salad dressings and more.
Why I made the decision to go gluten free
- I’ve educated myself a lot on what goes into my food, the proper way to eat, and the best ways to keep myself healthy. While doing research, I learned a lot about the implications of gluten on your body.
- Not only is it tough on your intestines during digestion, it’s known to cause inflammation, especially in the gut. Not only do I suffer from lower back pain, the last thing I need is a puffy stomach.
- “Inflammation in the gut contributes to a problem called intestinal permeability. The gut has a very complex system of “border control” that lets digested food into your bloodstream (this is how you get nutrients from it) while keeping everything else out. Every day, you swallow millions of random viruses, bacteria, indigestible molecules like dust, and other stuff that needs to go out the other end, not into your bloodstream. Inflammation in the gut (gluten) messes up that system of border control. It loosens the junctions between cells in the gut wall so too much stuff can pass through. This is often described as making the gut “leaky” (hence the popular name of “leaky gut”).” – Paleo Leap
- The negative effects of gluten can also show on your appearance. I’ve struggled with acne and other sensitive skin conditions my whole life (see below – These photos were taken in 2016). There’s something called dermatitis herpetiformis that includes itchy, red rashes with raised blisters. While I haven’t experienced blisters, red rashes and itchiness were an extremely common thing I dealt with.
Direct benefits of going gluten free
Since giving up gluten I’ve noticed the following changes:
- Chronic, hormonal acne has completely disappeared
- Puffiness, itchiness and redness in my face is gone
- Better overall digestion
- More energy
- Low to very little inflammation in the stomach and back
- Less fullness after eating
- Weight loss
Misconceptions around going gluten free
When people ask me why I’m gluten free they try and follow it up with kindly letting me know that “going gluten free is bad for you.” My issue with this is that the ones telling me this are just uneducated about it. I’m a certified nutrition specialist and you better believe that I completely understanding giving up gluten comes with its own set of implications.
However, with going gluten free I’ve learned to love cooking and religiously meal prep every Sunday. I’ve introduced new vegetables and fruits into my diets, make my own homemade granola and salad dressings. The fiber, vitamins and minerals I am lacking from wheat I make up with other nutritious foods.
People confuse going gluten free with losing weight and that’s the wrong way to think about it. Replacing boxed items with “gluten free” products doesn’t make them healthier, it almost makes them worse. The one and only true gluten free substitute I eat is bread and the occasional frozen pizza, and I completely stay away from anything else.
I’ve tried going gluten free in the past and talk about it here. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but I think it’s something to explore if nothing is working for you, whatever your concern may be.