Food Vocabulary Part 2: Gluten-Free

This blog post comes a few days late because I was out in Vancouver at the Nike Underground so I apologize for not posting this on Sunday.  This topic has been on my radar to write about for some time now, after watching things on the TV, reading up on the internet, and interacting with people I know.  Now before we get started, you will need to watch this short video from Jimmy Kimmel just to really see where I am coming from.  

What can we learn from Jimmy:
No one knows what gluten is! People aren’t always aware as to what they are doing to their bodies. Learn the purpose and decide if it makes sense for you.  

What is Gluten:
It is a protein found within the grains or seeds of wheat, rye, spelt, kamut, barley, and triticale. It provides the rubbery, elastic texture to the dough to make it have the ‘doughy’ feeling.

Why Gluten Free:
Some people are gluten intolerant, meaning that their bodies become upset when consuming gluten.  They are not diagnosed as celiac per se, but they often experience unpleasant symptoms upon eating gluten, and feel better if abiding by a gluten free diet. Celiac disease is more severe than gluten intolerance and specifically diagnosed from a medical professional. It occurs when the villi in the small intestine, which are used to aid in absorption of nutrients, become damaged by the gluten passing through.  Therefore, the villi cannot do their job and the person can experience many discomforts.  

Now, the reasons mentioned above are legitimate digestion issues that are typically dealt with when more severe cases are experienced.  However, we see many more packaged foods in the grocery stores with the GF (gluten-free) labels and many of us are buying into it.  A lot of people, like the woman in the video claiming gluten “makes you fat”, believe GF options will help with weight loss.  Cookies, cakes, brownies, cereals, pastas, and even mac and cheese come in GF options now. The truth is; whether the boxed mac and cheese is GF or not doesn’t matter.  You are still eating it from a box and you would have better luck losing weight by exercising regularly and eating whole foods prepared fresh. We need to stop getting too caught up in whether or not the food is GF and actually analyze what we are eating. A person containing small amounts of gluten in home cooked meals might shed the pounds more easily than the GF mac and cheese lover.  

How I felt:
I personally tried to go gluten free for a short period and I did in fact notice a difference.  I eliminated all grains except quinoa and only consumed sprouted wheat bread if any.  I came up with alternatives for other things I craved and experienced great results.  My stomach felt less bloated and I felt better after each meal.  Just remember that everybody is different and you decide what works best for you.

Lessons Learned:
The moral of the story as always when it comes to food, get educated. I have said this before in other posts but we all need to take matters into our own hands and read up on the effects of adhering to particular diets or eating habits. They may be great and do wonders to make our bodies feel better but we want to know what is going on and why.  Talk to other people, read up on it yourself, and when all else fails, give it a try.  You never know how great you might feel after without trying it out yourself.  Lastly, consult with your health care professional.  They can help guide you into making the best decision to help you lead the healthy active lifestyle you desire to have.

Be fierce. Be strong. Be vibrant.


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