« Dairy Free Ice Cream

Will the Healthiest Flour Please Stand Up? »


Gluten Free Is Not Healthy

health food by Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr

Photo by Robert Couse-Baker. Hopefully, people have begun to realize that the gluten free diet is not a shortcut to health.

Gluten Free is not healthy? Blasphemy –you must think someone has hijacked my blog, but it’s true. Just because a food is gluten free does not mean it is healthy.

Sadly, the recent popularity of “gluten free” has many thinking that if they eliminate gluten, they are on a healthy diet.  As Michael Pollan wrote last year in the New York Times Magazine, “Gluten has become the bad nutrient of the moment.”

I think it’s time for those of us in the gluten free blogoshpere to admit that villainizing one ingredient is not enough when it comes to eating well.

With all of the hype surrounding gluten free, no one mentions the dirty little secret of the Standard Gluten Free Diet. Few realize that when it comes to gluten free baked goods such as bread, snacks, and desserts, gluten free food is not as nutritious as “regular” food. That’s because gluten free goods are generally made with ingredients such as rice, corn, potatoes, sorghum, tapioca and millet, which are higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein and other nutrients than wheat flour. Sad, but true. The typical gluten free ingredients that are used in place of wheat are less nutritious than wheat itself.

The gluten free diet is a very specific requirement for very specific people –those with celiac, gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity. People with these conditions have to eliminate gluten from their diets to make sure their body doesn’t deteriorate. Let’s remember though, that doing so doesn’t actually speak to eating the diet and consuming the foods that allow your body to thrive. Those are two separate things. Therefore, the millions of Americans jumping on the gluten free bandwagon, who believe that eliminating one ingredient is a quick fix are short changing themselves.

If you have any of the above conditions (and it’s a good idea to go to a doctor and get tested if you think you might) remove gluten from your diet. For that matter, if something makes you feel sick, get it out of your diet! However, if you think eliminating one food gives you a free pass to eat processed gluten free goods made from rice, corn, etc., and that this will make you healthy, guess again.

The best path to wellness is a well rounded diet which includes many foods –it is far more work than simply bastardizing one ingredient, such as gluten.

What does eating healthy entail? Consuming a diverse array of nutrient dense foods every day; day after day. When I was a little girl, my Dad told me to eat the rainbow. So I’m staying away from fad diets and sticking with Dad’s advice. I have to agree with him, eating close to the earth is, and always has been, the way to go.


posted on July 11, 2012, 175 comments

  1. Angela S

    Amen! I lived on candy bars and processed GF food when I was first diagnosed with celiac for about six months…yikes what a lousy decision. Now I eat well but it includes very little if any processed food, gluten free or otherwise.

    • Amber

      I agree. When I was not eating any processed foods was when I felt the best, but being in our society and addicted to sweats, I decided to try gluten free products. My IBS is back, my swelling is back. It is not enough to say that gluten free is the answer. It is if this is a problem, but corn, and rice made products are just as bad. My dr. told me to stay away from all grains. He said my body can’t handle the grains and sugars. So, I am on a basically paleo diet, except I’m allergic to nuts, so not quite diet. Basically, I eat almost all unprocessed foods. That is when I feel the best. Oh, and I made gluten, soy, dairy, and nut free pumpkin bread the other day and got more sick then when I eat the regular kind.

      • Amber J

        @Amber-
        How did you start (make the transition)the Paleo diet? The doctors have diagnosis me with fibromyalgia and I need to make a diet change to help with the inflammation food causes. I have researched and found that the Paleo diet may be the right choice for me. However, with a family it is difficult to change your eating lifestyle when they choose not to. Any suggestions would be helpful.
        Thanks.
        Amber J

        • Sandy

          Also have fibromyalgia and made the transition to paleo after my son started losing weight, which I needed to do…..slowly I took dairy, then grains out of my diet……I have been on paleo for over a year (including 2 Thanksgivings and Christmas’)….I have never felt better…..I have lost 55 pounds and now have energy. I have been able to incorporate it into my daily living and I am the only in my immediate family on Paleo. My son is married and lives 7 hours away….and is also still paleo.
          Please give it a try….I am sure it will help….I have also started Savella for the fibro….but a very low dose…..

        • angie

          I really think with the fybro DX you might want to look into Lyme disease and find a good LLMD (lyme literate MD). Myself and about a dozen other people I know who were given that DX are suffering from Lyme disease.

        • Dana

          Try just not buying anything with a package to start. You need to have a good variety of color but packages guarantee processed. Many organic, natural foods still cause inflammation. Some research and trial/error will move the foods that bother you out of your diet.

  2. J.

    I beg to differ. I am convinced gluten really is evil for almost everybody, not just for people with the aforementioned conditions. I was a sickly child and a sickly young adult. My body went haywire a couple of years before I was 30. Back then, I needed more health care than an average 70 year-old person. I always tested negative for gluten. Despite my allergist’s advice (“you should not eliminate gluten if you are not allergic to it), I went gluten-free upon discovering the paleo diet, and now, in my early 30s, I finally know what it is like to be healthy. Meanwhile, I have converted many of my family members, and all of them have seen excellent health results although they had never been as miserable as me. For example, my mother’s blood pressure went down from the worrying levels around 170/110 to 110/70 in about three weeks!

    Of course, if you just replace gluten-containing junk with gluten-free junk, you cannot expect miracles. Paleo/primal boards are full of people who bake on a regular basis and believe that they have a healthy lifestyle.

    • tracy

      i am off the charts gluten sensitive based on a stool test. however, when i had blood allergy tests done a couple of years ago, i showed up as not having an allergy to gluten at all. maybe your gluten issue just didn’t show up in the tests your doctor ordered?

      • J.

        Yes, it could be. Nevertheless, many people around me experienced substantial improvement in their health (or mood, skin and other things). You could argue that gluten intolerance runs in the family, but they are in fact individuals from unrelated families (my parents, their siblings, spouses of their siblings, my husband’s family etc.).

        • Folly

          J

          As having to live Gluten Free to live I agree with junk in and junk out. Even with the Paleo diet. It is beginning to amaze me with how people are dreaming up recipes for this. Everyone has to have good nutrition “hidden” in sweets and such. Paleo is no good if you eat fresh foods high in sorbitol –why? Overtime you will damage phase 1 of the glycogen process and begin the trek to diabetes and not even know it. Sorbitol is what actually causes the neuropathy.

          There are many things that may be needed for people even eating Paleo. I am not going into here because each person needs to assess how their body is functioning. Lemon juice is a wonder drug if used properly at the proper time without being buried in a “recipe”. That is something our society and culture does. We want food with pretty and bows. That is how we arrive at unhealthy gluten free food we see everywhere now –full of chemicals and sugar. Yuk.

    • Lucinda

      I actually think you are making her point perfectly. You have done more than eliminate gluten. It sounds like you are eating a healthier diet overall (which often comes hand-in-hand with going gf when you start reading labels and seeing what is actually in a lot of food). Eating gf but baking all the time is not a healthy diet. Both of you are saying the same thing. Glad you have been able to make a difference in the lives of those around you.

      • Doug

        Exactly – if J is eating paleo that usually cuts out dairy, dramatically lowers carbs, etc. etc. It’s a pretty dramatic shift away from the average modern diet.

      • J.

        Not really. I have just eliminated gluten and lowered carbs. I do not buy any processed foods now, but then this is not new; in my pre-paleo days I would hardly ever buy something with more than one ingredient. In this respect, I do not think I made a dramatic shift.

    • Linda

      I think the problem lies in your statement about replacing gluten-containing junk with gluten-free junk. Too many people are doing just that and still eating the junk. I follow the Paleo lifestyle (not necessarily gluten free, but am grain and flour free for the most part) and am constantly amazed at some of the foods out there claiming to be gluten free that are just junk food in disguise. I have also seen some Paleo recipes that make me cringe – Paleo donuts, paleo cakes and breads that are far off the Paleo principals and not necessarily healthy.

    • LegendsOfBatman

      @J.
      I’m glad you seem to be healthier.
      However, studies do seem to support that this new fad diet is just another in a long line of gimmickary and hopping on whatever bandwagon is current.

      What is even more insulting is, many of these so called healthy foods are not good for the person who is supposed to be helped. For example, there are at least two companies who state on their product that they are Gluten Free, BUT are not good for people with celiac disease.
      Eh? It’s Gluten-Free, and those with Celiac disease are not supposed to have gluten, but, the foods are not for those with Celiac disease? WHAT?
      It’s a con and a scam and reprehensible what these companies are doing to fool the consumer. They should be punished for their deceptions and trickery.

    • patricia @ emailonly

      I had been feeling sick with digestive issues, weight and bloating when I tried the Paleo diet 6 months ago. I could always lose weight on any diet but not really feel healthy…what a change Paleo made…I was already sensitive to dairy so cutting out wheat and processed products was the big change and did it ever work…I felt better almost right away, lost 35 pounds in 10 weeks and grew to love cooking natural for the fist time. Not counting calories but ensuring fresh quality foods were my new way of eating has changed my life. My husband loves the way we eat and loves trying new dishes. I did just buy Elana’s new Almond Flour Cookbook and have made muffins and bars but especially the vegetable tarts with the almond crusts have me experimenting with my own ideas. I have not enjoyed ready made gluten free products at all but Paleo and my new eating regime has made the best change in my overall health…I recommend it to all my friends…Elana’s on-line recipes add to my options so many thanks…try it you will love it!!!

    • remtothemax

      okay, uh, see i am definitely a regular eater person
      i adore wheat in all its forms
      you will pull glutenful bread out of my cold dead hands
      i am in full support of people who are on special diets, even if it is just because it makes you feel better
      i have friends who are vegetarian, celiac, vegan, and raw-vegan. even a friend who is weirdly allergic to apples and carrots
      i have no problem accommodating them ever
      but anyone who has posted on here about how they disagree and how a lot of people would feel better if they went on x diet
      you’re wrong
      i’m telling you now
      you’re wrong
      a diet is an incredibly personal decision
      bread doesn’t give me any digestive problems, but even if they were slight, what about the mental effect of cutting me off from all the memories and emotional attachment i have with regards to the smell and taste of baking fresh bread?
      my diet? i eat whatever i want
      all the regular stuff, all the special diet stuff like almond milk, tofu, quinoa and all that
      i just focus on trying to make as much as possible and with as fresh ingredients as possible with a focus on as many vegetables as possible
      i try to focus on fruit, but i have this weird thing with textures, so i can only do so much there
      basically, just eat a healthy, fresh diet
      if you need something special, go for it
      but don’t try to make me feel guilty for eating my slice of home made bread with home made jam
      i’ll just go buy a twinkie to eat in front of you out of spite (even though i don’t like them, for you, i’ll make an exception)
      especially since i have the reverse problem. i can’t gain weight. it is super frustrating and cutting out wheat and fat and sugar is probably not the way to help me stop my weight from bottoming out

      • c

        I never felt sick after eating gluten or dairy or coffee but after having an allergy test done this summer because I was feeling run down all the time I discovered that I had an allergy to these foods. It’s been so hard to cut them out of my diet because of exactly what you describe- my mental and emotional connection to them. Unfortunately, food is supposed to nourish our bodies, not necessarily give us an emotional boost. When I discovered the lining of my intestines were breaking down due to the inflammation the allergies were causing and the risk it put my at for developing autoimmune diseases down the road I put my physical health before my emotional connection to my beloved foods. Was it easy? Definitely not. But I do hope that it will be worth it in the end. I don’t think anyone wants to make you feel guilty – I think people just get excited about what works for them and want everyone to experience how great they feel, usually after having felt really bad for a long time. Don’t try to tear others down just because they may make you feel insecure about your connection to certain foods.

    • anna rutz

      I disagree with the article. I have been celiac since birth and had a myriad of ailments all my life due to a compromised immune system. I used to vomit all cereal milk based meals as a baby and periodically suffer from Dermatitis Herpetiformis on my face and upper body. My parents went crazy going to private and estate doctors but no one new what was the cause of the outbreaks. I remembered childhood as being always tired, and more when after eating. The thing is that no one did test on intolerance unless you had a violent reaction. I guess i had a strong constitution and it was only until I was 22 that I discovered I was celiac due to a violent allergic reaction to gluten/ milk. My whole face swollen to my eyelids and i was really warm. Also I had psoriasis all the time. I went to a naturist and told me to stay away from wheat / soy / gluten products. I went on a crash diet for a month and all the herpes disappeared. I never felt so good in my life, I had so much energy and months after the cleansing did not suffer from hair loss, tiredness and skin rashes. Being overconfident, I went back to a normal diet as I ” thought” my celiac disease was cured. How wrong I was! I developed IBS, my hairloss went off the roof and had recurrent pneumonia attacks. What I know now is that I damaged my small intestine beyond the recovery threshold of a twenty year old woman and now on my thirties is going to take longer to repair a weakened immune system with candida symptoms and leaky gut . Celiac disease should take very seriously. There are lots of alternatives that include good carbohydrates but stay away from gluten free processed products, they are not really good for you. Make your own bread!

  3. Thank-you for bring this up! I sit back and shake my head at the no-fat craze, the high fiber craze, the eggs are evil craze, the low cholesterol craze and now the gluten-free craze. No one food for the average person is pure evil or is going to miraculously make you healthy. It takes a very wide variety of foods in moderation for good health.

  4. Sarah

    Elana, I enjoy your website with one resounding exception. How do you rationalize the large use of almond flour? I will only make recipes here that do not contain it.
    First off, it’s one thing to eat a handful of almonds. It’s quite another to take the amount of almonds required to make a cup or two of almond meal then cook them. What you’re left with is a calorie-dense, oxidized Omega-6 bomb.
    I use gluten-free flour (a pure mix of rice flour, potato and tapioca starch) in sparse amounts to enhance some of my cooking. Although it may have my carbs or less protein I feel it’s a much safer route than almond flour.
    Any thoughts here? It really irks me no one in the Paleo community seems to recognize this as a problem.

    • Tracy

      I just don’t bake. I tried using almond flour to make bread/cake/muffins and I blew up like a balloon! I’ve never had a bloating problem like that before. I still eat almonds. But only whole, raw and in little groups of 8-10 nuts….every once in a great while :-) I got over the whole “I miss cookies/brownies/bread/cake” thing a long time ago. Besides…Grok didn’t bake, right?

    • Stacey

      I LOVE Elana’s Almond flour recipes, but I can only eat a very small serving since I seem to have similar digestive issues with almonds as I do with wheat. I guess moderation is the key with anything.

    • sara

      I have to agree with you, Sarah, regarding the almond flour. I wonder if Elana’s views have changed on this???

      Yes, it is gluten free and yes, it is higher in protein. But come on… most almond flour is not prepared safely (soaked / sprouted) & the omega 6 levels are through the roof. I agree with Elana’s article above, but almond flour is just another gluten-free sub for wheat flour. It is not “healthy”… which speaks to the point of this article, yet MANY of your recipes on here are made with almond flour. I take that to mean your views have shifted?

      I personally would never use almond flour. I am not going to say any flour substitutes are “healthy.” I do very occasionaly use rice flour (maybe once a month), but I don’t pretend it’s healthy.

      Overally, I do like the point of the article. We cannot cut out 1 thing & think all of a sudden we have healthy diets. We should focus on eating the most nutrious (and varied) foods we can.

      • nat

        Almond flour is crazy-high in calories as well…..I understand your position….

      • Megan Knowles

        It seems to me that what Elana strives for is balance and recognizing what makes YOU as an individual feel great. If you read some of Elana’s other posts, she went grain free, not just gluten free, a long time ago. She discovered that grains were not meant for her, so she took them out of her diet. In doing so, she wanted to find a suitable replacement, or at least that is how it seems to me. While I agree that almond flour isn’t good for everyone, it’s no different than wheat not being good for everyone. If you find something doesn’t agree with you, don’t eat it, it’s that simple. What Elana’s site is doing is giving people on a fairly limited diet something to look forward to. I decided to get better with my eating habits quite a few years ago and in doing that, I had to cut back on processed foods, baked goods, etc. I lowered my intake of carbs and grains and made 95% of my meals from fresh, wholesome ingredients. As I learned more, I wanted to get even healthier and I discovered almond flour and coconut flour!! I was thrilled because that meant there was another option for me to use when I did want to make a treat for myself or for a function. I know too much of anything isn’t good for me, but I’m a human being who grew up with all this commercialized garbage food seeming “normal”. How many of us in my age range (25-35) didn’t grow up thinking bread and baked goods were healthy? Or that ice cream and candy bars were a perfectly fine sleepover treat? I became accustomed to those treats being in my life and removing them completely feels like I’m being punished. I LOVE that by using some of Elana’s recipes I can still have my treats OCCASIONALLY, and they are just that – TREATS. I’m a baker through and through and I don’t think I would ever give that up completely. I know enough about health to know that bombarding your body with too much of anything, is usually not a good approach. So, while Elana has a lot of recipes packed with almond flour, she surely does not suggest you eat the whole yield of said recipe, nor does she say to eat one of those recipes for every meal, or even every day. Elana has brilliantly compiled recipes for people who are looking for some grain free, decently healthy food and still feel as if they are treating themselves. I know that I’m much more successful eating healthy when I know I can treat myself without being too unhealthy. So, find some balance, acknowledge what makes YOU feel good and eat that way.

        • MANDA

          i couldnt agree more! i am grain free due to blood sugar issues and tummy issues. i tolerate almond flour and coconut flour quite well and they have been a real treat from time to time on my ‘new way of eating’ journey!

      • Katherine

        Don’t we all consider these “treat” foods though? I mean, no one could reasonably assume that eating cupcakes, muffins and bread (even GF) forms the basis of a healthy diet.

        I make paleo(ish) treats once in awhile because it’s keeps the peace on the homefront but I’d never consider that these are acceptable foods for every day or every meal. And because I do believe that starches are a part of of a biologically appropriate (paleo) diet, I do generally use only about 1/3 of the almond flour called for in these recipes and substitute white rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch.

    • Amy

      Coconut flour is a great alternative to the almond flour. I’ve noticed that in many of the Primal/Paleo based sites, baking recipes usually call for coconut flour. I do the Primal/Paleo and have read many threads about the concerns with the Omega-6 content in a baking recipe that contains almond flour. I love to cook, but I tend to just stick with my meat and veggie concoctions considering I’ve never really had much luck with the baking!

    • JC

      I absolutely agree with Sarah regarding almond flour. I cannot even think of making Elana’s recipes made with that ingredient. Any nut – I don’t care if it is almonds, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, you name it. Eating any kind of nut absolutely rips through my gut as badly as if I were eating gluten – maybe even worse. Likewise coconut – wonder if others suffer equally from these items?

      • Maria

        Yes, I have to be careful with coconut, too. I haven’t made any of Elana’s dairy-free ice cream recipes that contain coconut milk because that milk, in particular, seems to do a real number on my belly. I can tolerate coconut flour recipes, but not in large quantities, which is a real bummer because they taste so yummy.

      • Sheridan

        Hey JC, perhaps you might be interested in looking into a healing diet like the GAPS diet (www.gapsdiet.com) which assists you in healing your gut. We have been eating this way for over a year now. I no longer have tummy pains when I make the very occasional baked treat for my family with almond or coconut flour. :)

      • Danielle

        You may be suffering from Fructose Malabsorption. It is a fairly recently-identified disorder that seems better understood in Australia, where it was researched and identified by Dr. Sue Shepherd. Essentially, your gut (which is supposed to allow fructose molecules to harmlessly pass through into your blood stream) stops being able to do so and the resulting lingering presence of it in your bowel throws a party for the bacteria living there.

        Hence the bloating and digestive disruption.

        Almonds and other nuts are still on the “debated” list of offenders. I have seen some people say they are harmless and yet others say no nuts except pistachios are safe. More research is being done and we’ll know more in the coming years.

        PS: Agave is one of the worst offenders.

    • Carla

      I never thought the receipts (especially the baked goods) were meant to be eaten without boundaries. When I make cookies, I eat ONE cookie, maybe two if they’re small enough and put the rest of the dough in the fridge. Problem solved.

  5. Julie Bates

    Amen to that! I gained so much weight the first few weeks after switching to a GF diet as directed by my doctor, simply because I switched to a bunch of processed gluten-free products. I now follow a mostly paleo/primal type diet and feel great. But I shake my head at all the people who are switching to a bunch of processed junk just because its “gluten free” because they think its healthy. Thanks for addressing this issue!

  6. great post. it drives me crazy when i hear people go on and on about all the great gluten free products they’re buying for their families. if they would just read the labels!

  7. Susan @ Rawmazing.com

    So wonderful of you to write about this. It has been one of my biggest pet peeves. You could say the same about vegetarian (if it isn’t done correctly) and even vegan. People need to realize it is about the nutrients available in what they are eating. That is one of the reasons I like your blog.

    Thanks!

  8. Randi

    I beg to differ, too. I am not gluten intolerant or celiac, simply feel better being off wheat (and if you read the book, Wheat Belly, many good reasons not to eat it, no matter who you are.) But I do agree with what you said about replacing with processed gluten free items is not healthy. Just because something says “gluent free” on it does NOT make it healthy. But outside of that, when eating real foods, it feels like a much healthier way to eat predominately, and also avoids all those wheat based baked goods. I also seem to gain weight if use almond flour much, so not using barely at all anymore, but coconut flour is great. More recipes with that and less with almond, at least for my personal preference. Thanks for the discussion!

  9. Kathy K.

    Great post! Lays it all out so clearly. I had already thought that eating well today is not always as simple as it seems. You always bring a lot of clarity to the issues.

  10. I’ve read that there are some nutritious gluten-free flours out there. (ex. quinoa flour) Is this true?

    Also, can it not also be said that to experiment with homemade goods using alternative flours other than wheat could be a health benefit. Although wheat has nutritious qualities, perhaps our diets are often too wheat heavy.

    Also I’ve heard that wheat might increase inflammation for people prone to or suffering from arthritis.

    I would love feedback or correction on these thoughts/ideas. I’m not gluten-free but enjoy experimenting and cooking with alternative ingredients. Perhaps I’m guilty as many others in thinking that gluten free is healthy. (?) ;)

    • emily stone

      when i went gluten free, my arthritis pain (which was pretty bad) improved at least 75%. it may not be that way for everyone, but it was for me.

    • Catherine M

      @Sommer you asked about arthritis pain. That is the main reason I went Paleo 2 months ago. I haven’t even hit 40 yet, and my family history of arthritis was already strongly evident. Before going Paleo, slicing a good pile of veg for a recipe would leave my hands sore and tender for days. I write a lot at work with a pen when I’m working with clients, and by the time I’d get home from work, my hands were screaming. Fast forward to 2 months later, in the heat of summer, and my fingers aren’t even swollen for the first time in 20 years! Other bonuses? I lost 3 inches off my waist in the first 2 weeks because all the bloating left. I have fewer migraines. My blood sugar has stabilized (I’m hypoglycemic) in a way I haven’t had in years either, despite following a proper diet.

      I agree with Elana’s post. Replacing one set of junk food products with another is not healthy. If you want a treat, make your own. I understand other posters’ concerns with the Omega-6 issue. I’ve worked my way around that by looking for recipes based on nut butters, and using sunflower seed butter. I’ve eaten Elana’s Paleo breakfast bars every day for my morning snack for 2 months. It’s great to take to work, and easy to carry in a purse or bag. Sure, it turns green when the sunflower reacts with the baking soda, but that just adds to the charm, and keeps my coworkers from asking if they can try some!

      Do I miss bread? Sometimes. Mostly I miss things like cheese, or gum. Little things. But I just ride it out and the craving goes away. The health benefits of going Paleo are way too amazing to jeopardize by a cheat.

      Thanks, Elana, for sharing your GF journey and knowledge! You got me started down this road and I’m so happy not to hurt anymore!!!

  11. Billie J Hord @ GlutenFreeishealthyforme

    I have been on the gf diet for over 25 years, and I am healthy due to taking vitamins, lots of vegetables and fruit. I am 91 yrs of age and do not have any pain from arthritis, joints,
    do not have to take pain meds. So keep up with me and I will help you with your problems. bea1930@comcast.net

  12. Moriah

    Thanks for this post as what you’ve said is SO true! When my son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I found that many products replace sugar with fat- and vice versa. So we began replacing the processed foods with salads, fruits and veggies. And I began grinding my own wheat to make homemade breads and baked goods.. When three of us were diagnosed with with Celiac, I couldn’t believe how little nutrition was found in GF foods as well as how many GF items are full of sugar. That’s when I discovered your website. Elana, you’ve been a lifesaver to me and my family!! I was drowning in my own tears as I created yucky tasting, nutritionless food for me and my family but didn’t know what to do. THANK YOU for all you do!!

  13. donna

    all well said, elana…there is alot of ‘junk’ out there that does not contain gluten…sugars and starchy carbs amongst them….and i would like to add that not all ‘tests’ are accurate…there are people who eat a reasonable diet and can ingest gluten with no problems… if you feel better off gluten- then you are sensitive to it no matter what any test says…the best ‘test’ is you paying attention to how your body responds to foods…
    thanks for posting this elana…;-)

  14. Candace

    Thank you for making this point and spreading the word. My daughter and I were just diagnosed celiac and I’m having a very hard time finding healthy options for her. Instead — I’m up all night preparing healthy and colorful meals that will fill both of us up. Everyone says being celiac is no big deal… there are tons of gluten-free options out there, but you hit the nail on the head! They aren’t necessarily “healthy” options.

    • Jeanne White

      Regular meals are not too difficult. You are better off not eating processed foods anyway. Desserts are really difficult. I just don’t eat much of them, but when I do make cookies or cake, I use coconut flour and sometimes a little almond flour. Coconut flour makes nice bread and rolls, too.

  15. Jennifer Ketterer

    I can not agree with you more on educating others that a GF diet does not mean healthy. A lot of people get fat on that diet because they over load on simple sugars. One needs to remember that a produce dominated diet is always better and breads and what not should be done with care and moderation! Thanks Elana!

  16. Jane

    Of course gluten free doesn’t mean it’s good for you. And neither are almond flour grapeseed oil cookies and other fat & sugar laden baked goods. But thier not meant to sustain you. THEY’RE TREATS! If you’re aware your health is not what it should be then you should be incorporating more fruits and vegetables and maybe some carefully chosen flesh foods.
    The recipes Elana has developed should be viewed as occaisional indulgences and transitional foods to help you crossover to a better eating style. When you choose something to eat, ask yourself if this food will give you energy or use your energy to metabolize it. The food that will give you radiant health is the food that radiates the energy of the sun and is as close to it’s natural state as possible. NOT processesed,altered,or dead food. But it takes time to change and yes even getting rid of just the gluten can make that indulgence one step closer to better health.

    • Mary

      Jane I agree with you. I was at a loss for good food when I found Elana on Pinterist. What a blessing! Dr. had taken me off gluten and since I am a bread maker and a bread eater, I searched until I found a recipe to almost perfect bread, made with rice flour and a few others in the mix. Then Dr. said “grain free”, I was back to square one. Then along came Elana and almond flour! Yes it has a lot of calleries and like anything else, too much is not good for you, but it sure adds to a good meal of steak and vegies.
      Mary

  17. angela pittaway

    i do agree but i also think high protein diets and eating almond flour all the time is not healthy too and can cause weight gain. also the gallbladder and liver does not cope well with nuts and causes problems with lots people

    • Angela, some people would claim to gain weight on an all water diet. I have been following a paleo/primal diet for the past 14 months and have lost 90 pounds and feel tremendous.

      I eat lots of protein, accompanied by healthy carbs. I don’t think anyone, especially Elana is promoting eating large quantities of almond flour.

    • nat

      Yes I agree. I lost 5 lbs after I stopped baking with almond flour and coconut flour. Plus, eating the almond flour baked goods increased my cravings for more.

      • Amy C

        Seeds and nuts are high in phytic acid – they need to be soaked overnight. So what I do with the “multi ‘grain’ cracker” recipe (which my kids love) is make the dough and let it sit on my counter before I roll it out the next day. Sometimes I use sprouted & dehydrated sunflower seeds instead of unsprouted, because that’s what I keep a jar of for snacking and salads. Sprouted is better than soaked, but soaked is better than unsoaked.

  18. Nenah Sylver @ rifehandbook.com

    I found the title of this somewhat informative blog misleading. A more accurate title would have been called, “Gluten Free Does Not Necessarily Mean ‘Healthy’.” This kind of message is often used by advertising circles to reel people in. I didn’t expect such a ploy on this site.

    Plus, it depends on the ingredients that makes wheat-containing foods healthier than foods not containing wheat. The reasons for using wheat is that its sticky gluten gives such a wonderful texture to baked goods. However, the “disadvantage” to not eating wheat can more than be made up for by putting more eggs into a recipe.

    You write, “The gluten free diet is a very specific requirement for very specific people –those with celiac, gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity.” But studies show that even so-called “normal” people have problems with gluten. Following are a few examples.

    A recent study showed that people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), who did NOT test positive for celiac, improved when going on a gluten free diet.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21224837

    Dr. Fasano’s finding that gliadin (the problematic protein in gluten) causes transient leaky gut in ALL humans and in several animals. This has huge implications, since rogue (foreign) proteins in the blood are thought to be the cause of autoimmune disorders.

    If Dr. Fasano is correct (and I believe he is), then gluten could be causing low-level damage in everyone:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16635908

    “Both ex vivo human small intestines and intestinal cell monolayers were exposed to gliadin, and zonulin release and changes in paracellular permeability were monitored in the presence and absence of zonulin antagonism. Zonulin binding, cytoskeletal rearrangement, and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) redistribution were evaluated by immunofluorescence microscopy. Tight junction occludin and ZO-1 gene expression was evaluated by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR).”

    In other words, when human gut cells are exposed to gliadin, they release zonulin. In the paragraph after, he states:

    “When exposed to luminal gliadin, intestinal biopsies from celiac patients in remission expressed a sustained luminal zonulin release and increase in intestinal permeability that was blocked by FZI/0 pretreatment. Conversely, biopsies from non-celiac patients demonstrated a limited, transient zonulin release which was paralleled by an increase in intestinal permeability that never reached the level of permeability seen in celiac disease (CD) tissues. Chronic gliadin exposure caused down-regulation of both ZO-1 and occludin gene expression.”

    So, even if you don’t have Celiac disease, a little bit of zonulin still gets produced in response to eating gluten. (This is in so-called “normal” people, whose who are NOT diagnosed with Celiac, gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity.) Zonulin production can lead to Type 1 diabetes and MS:

    http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/55/5/1443.long

    http://honolulu.injuryboard.com/fda-and-prescription-drugs/zonulin-research-key-to-cures-for-autoimmune-disorders-like-ms.aspx?googleid=270442

    Ron Hoggan writes about going on a gluten free diet or starting your children on a gluten free diet:

    http://www.celiac.com/articles/22429/1/Ron-Hoggans-Response-to-Dieters-Warned-on-Going-Gluten-free-Article/Page1.html

    Really, with all the evidence out there, is eating gluten worth the risk? For ANYONE?

  19. Angela @ HomeCookedHealthy @ homecookedhealthy.com

    THANK YOU! It’s so difficult to cut throught the advertising sometimes. Gluten-free has become the new buzz word in health circles which has in turn given way to an avalanche of advertising for products labeled gluten-free. Unfortunately if it’s processed it’s most likely full of sugars and chemicals to try and “make up” for the taste and texture. ALWAYS read the labels to keep it healthy for your family.

  20. Jenny

    I think saying “Gluten Free is not *necessarily* healthier, it can be done wrong” or “GF is a good start, but there’s more to it than just removing GLIADIN” is more to the point, and way less catchy. I think we need to be careful though to not say “it isn’t healthy” and relegate it to a misguided fad diet. Obviously a crappy, processed, sugar-laden product without GLIADIN is still healthier than the same exact product with it, if marginally. I can tell you a gluten free donut doesn’t give me dysentry ; ) so that counts for something.

    I’m 31 and had to go GF at 23. It’s only been since one year ago that the paleo diet and it’s health benefits have been introduced/explained to me, and it’s what I needed to do to recover from daily illness, malnutrition, etc. It’s when I learned gluten was in ALL grains (WHY AM I ONLY LEARNING THIS NOW????!!!) I’m sort of mad that when I had to go GF that I wasn’t put on a GRAIN free diet at that time, or even thereafter. I feel like my health really declined because the other grains were deteriorating my intestinal lining and the carb overload obvi wasn’t helping either. You’re given a list of “gluten free grains” only to find out years later THEY ARE SO NOT. Grrrrr

    Thank you for sharing this information, it’s clearly not understood yet by the majority of folks who have had to go GF and that’s a cryin shame. I hope more naturopaths, nutritionists, etc get hip to the grain free scene too and start putting folks on a grain free diet, not simply GLIADIN free. At least if people have the knowledge, they can make the best decision for themselves.

    Thank you for your grain free and paleo recipes, Elana I would not eat so well if it wasn’t for you!

    • Eva

      Jenny, So glad to hear you say that. I & my daughter with special needs are Gluten intolerance and the problem is very hard for both of us. I new maybe that I might be GI with I found out my daughter was in 2009 had a blood test and was DQ8 just like her than when I had a lower GI I found all kind of thing wrong with me but no systems. The Dr. could not believe that I was not sick at all. And as for my daughter is has stomach pain every single day and we just can’t pin point where the pain is and have done several test to make sure it not somthing else and I really try and cook everything for her and try to see that everything is GF,but with no help can we find out why she is hurting every single day. I try to keep her off of meds just because I know they can cause problems as well, but maybe now I need to go all paleo which hasn’t been easy for us I’m 64 and my daughter is 30 and we have NO surport from my husband or family they think were crazy and going over bord with this GF diet. This past week we visit my parents and I was so busy getting thing ready that @ 1:30 in the morning I was making GF tortillas for my daughter and thinking (Lord who is going to make these tortillas for my daughter when I’m not here she soooooooo loves them.) But any way I really worry about way vitamins we should be talking because we really don’t eat right or enough to get all the nurisment that we need. I do try and read everything I can and some of it soaks in and some of it doesn’t. I do pray a lot and Thank God that when my daughter goes to sleep without telling me her stomach hurts. But she’ll aways wake up telling me her stomach hurts. Thanks for listing and maybe I just need to try a little harder and maybe go all paleo.

  21. Lori @ amsa1.com

    Elana,
    You are so right on! Grains are highly over rated. Any grain. And if someone doesn’t have issues with eating gluten, by all means, they should continue. But eliminating gluten and replacing it with highly processed grains of a non-gluten variety does not equate to “healthier.” Thank you for your wise advise and we continue to offer your website to our patients, many of which suffer from chronic and autoimmune illnesses such as yours. Thank you.

  22. Rachel @ Rediscovering the Kitchen @ rediscoverthekitchen.blogspot.com

    I can attest to this – I suffered some health problems, namely my teeth getting very very bad very very fast when I switched to a gluten free diet, because I did not know about all the negative consequences of whole grains improperly prepared! The fact that I am almost exclusively breastfeeding a now 8 month old compounded the effects it had on me. Going gluten free is definitely something I think people should do informed!

  23. Brenna johnson @ Gypsyjohnsons@blogspot.com

    I agree except for those unlucky ones who test negative to gluten test! Me and both of my boys have never been tested …yet once we took out gluten all stomach issues went away, and my younger son had severe ezcema which disappeared! I went to Dr after doctor and never once did any doctor suggest gluten issues. They just told me i had IBS and here is a prescription! I also have friends who’s blood tests showed negative but an online stool test showed positive to gluten sensititvity. So unfortunately, some people have to self diagnos because so many of the test are false negatives. My mother has a very debilitating auto immune disease ( IBM Incusion body myositis)and I only wish I knew then what I know now! Thank you for your article tho, because I do agree just because it says gluten does not mean it is healthy. My family and I are gluten free but also processed food free as well… As close to Paleo as you can get. You’re right from the earth is BEST! Thx

  24. When people see what I eat, they ask if I’m gluten-free. I try to explain that I try to eat a processed-food-free diet. I think it’s important to eat very few things that come in a can or a box. (But I’m not giving up my coconut milk any time soon!) :)

  25. Christina

    Gluten-free fad harkens back to the fat- free days when we sat around eating fat-free gummy bears, ice cream and white bread by the pounds- doing, at the time, untold damage to our bodies. Moderation, moderation, moderation, please- no need to vilify any food- yes even almond flour and grains.

  26. Lauren @ Empowered Sustenance @ empoweredsustenance.blogspot.com

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. It seems like manufacturers take advantage of the term “gluten free” to market things as health foods when they are not. “Gluten-free” foods still contain very high amounts of carbs and often sugar. Like you, Elana, I have decided to go grain-free.

  27. Chris

    After going paleo I felt better too. I also found out my cravings for breads has diminished and about the only thing I really crave is homemade pizza.

    Almond flour is okay but I only bake a great once every 2 weeks. No need with all the great filling meats and fat

  28. Kfayfay

    As someone who is gluten intolerant, I was rather pleased gluten had become a villain for at least a moment. People have been trying to cope with gluten intolerance/sensitivity and celiac disease with little help from food manufacturers. Now, due to the gluten free diet craze, many manufacturers and grocery chains have begun to label and certigy gluten free foods.

  29. I fully agree with you that gluten-free does not necessarily mean healthy because of the glycemic index of most gluten-free flours. My gluten-free diet as a cancer survivor is whole quinoa, teff, amaranth, buckwheat, chickpeas, red lentils and mung bean. The bean flours have a strong flavor so I use them only in small amounts when I bake but most of the time I just make soups and stews with these gluten-free sources of carbs and protein. They’re very nutritious and healthy!

  30. Great post! I agree 100% It’s the same as vegetarians who live off carbs, and vegans who eat nothing but potato chips and peanut butter. It’s all about finding a balance. I love your recipes for gluten free baked goods like bread, because even though I’m taking in more calories they’re nutritionally dense calories. And it saves money! GF bread is so expensive!

  31. Deborah Penner @ optimun-wellbeing.net

    Beautifully stated. Right up there with believing that there is one cure all supplement …

  32. nat

    I have been cooking a lot with QUINOA lately because the almond flour and coconut flour were not compatible with my gut. I don’t have the same problems with quinoa and I have lost weight. I had no idea….

  33. Sue

    I enjoyed reading this, worded so well and so true. I was a little surprised to see the comments fussing about eating almond flour baked goods “all the time” and the unhealthiness of that. As a follower of this blog for a while, I have never gotten the impression that Elana advocates binging on almond flour baked goods. This blog has always, to me, been a proponent of moderation and good choices. Just because there is an array of recipes on here doesn’t mean they should be baked and eated all day long every day. I am baking GF for a family where only one needs to be GF. I am trying to maintain a balance of the kids and husband looking for “treats” now and then and making something GF that all taste buds enjoy. For our family, almond flour has been the superior ingredient. It was after finding this blog that I was able to enjoy our GF journey because we had such good results with the things we baked for the family. I appreciate Elana’s approach in finding great substitutes for the GF things we enjoy in moderation.

    • Jill

      Great post! I don’t seem to have issues with gluten, but I do try to cook/bake with an array of whole foods – and I’ve gotten some wonderful ideas from this site. A couple of years ago I decided to try gluten-free just because I was curious. When I read the GF labels, I quickly decided that (for me) reasonable amounts of whole grain were better than GF mixes. Labels and moderation!

  34. Sylvia Valdez

    Well, for all that have sensitivities to almonds/almond flour/tapioca flour or any other sensitivity I highly recommend using a NAET practitioner to help you. Look it up and read about it. Our NAET practitioner greatly helped our son who is gluten intolerant.

  35. I’ve wanted to write this article for so long! Thanks for saving me the trouble! I’m sharing this. :)

  36. Terry

    I agrree with this totally. The gluten free fad reminds me of the fat free fad, where the food industry came up with a ton of unhealthy fat free foods. The sad part is, that when the fad dies, those of us who need to eat GF will remain, and it might be considered evil to be GF, just like fat free and Atkins. I do want to say one more thing. You mention Celiac, GI, GS, but not allergies. I have a severe wheat allergy and must eat gluten free. It seems that gluten allergy is usually left out of the mix. Just saying…..I feel left out.

  37. Carol

    Thank you for explaining that it is not just eliminating the bad but replacing it with the good. I developed a wheat allergy – it truly does affect my airway; and is worse if combined with yeasts, mushrooms, molds (cheeses), etc. Because of airway issues, I was advised to stop all gluten and yeast foods by naturopathic, not a medical doctor. Other food allergies and sensitivities triggered asthma symptoms, some severe. As I learned what these foods were, I was encouraged to remove them from my diet. But I was not given any guidance on what I could eat, how I should prepare my food, etc.

    It has been a long journey – nearly 7 years with trials and errors and occasional set backs. About a year ago, I read that those of us with sensitivities really need to get back to cooking like our grandmothers did…from the whole food that actually grows in the gardens. That was my first big step forward to the recovery I have been experiencing since. I was also lucky enough to find a certified nutritionist who ordered a different type of blood test for testing allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities to over 96 different foods than the traditional medical allergist who diagnosed my asthma but could not identify any triggers.

    For the most part, what has taken me so long to uncover on my own was confirmed by these tests. The results also showed me that there are some foods that I was still considering safe that could be a problem for me yet. So we have a plan to remove them from my diet for a couple of months, then hopefully reintroduce them to see what my responses will be. Hopefully by giving my body a break from them, I can eat them, at least on occasion without any reactions. The end result – just what you are saying, Elana – a diet of only real, live, whole food rich in nutritients. No processed, canned, packaged, or pre-cooked frozen stuff that has additives added to enhance flavor and extend shelf life. I have reintroduced myself to the real art of cooking and am rediscovering what food should taste like and that it tastes good, and am recovering my health by leaps and bounds now.

    Too many of us care about what we put on our skin but we never think about what we are putting in our bodies and doing to the irreplaceable organs that make our bodies function properly. We need to make better choices.

  38. melissa

    I agree!! I see gluten free paraded, but then see other ingredients that are not good for me. I follow the genotype/eat 4 your bloodtype lifestyle and there are so many added ingredients that are not good for me. I love your recipes as they are usually spot on. It’s not a fad, it’s a lifestyle change that makes me feel better….and makes me feel good about myself.

  39. Kate@ eatrecyclerepeat @ eatrecyclerepeat.com

    Healthy to me means whole foods – nothing from a box, overpackaged, refined, or processed. No separating vitamins and minerals into extra supplements – merely eating food as it was meant to be consumed. Pasture-raised meats and eggs, pesticide, GMO, and chemical free fruits and vegetables, sustainable seafood, coconut, tubers like sweet potatoes, and the occasional refined-sugar-free treat. I’m not sure if stevia can be counted as a whole food, but right now it is a lifesaver in my diet.

  40. CJ

    Thank you to all who have admitted to eating crappy processed GF foods. I am currently in that horrible self-sabatoge rut with Diet Coke, Snickers, and Lays potato chips….all GF but sooo bad for you. This is the result of the intolerance diagnosis and the anger phase of loss; sad but true. I had no idea that I had food on such a pedestal until something like bread was taken away. I know that this phase is not permanent but am grateful to know that I am not the only one. I look forward to being GF AND healthy.

  41. I use the cyrex labs test to test my clients for gluten. It is a great test and everyone should do it. Interestingly, 90% of my clients test for GS. I recommend to every client to take out gluten. If they can prove to me that they are fine with it … then eat it. If you are sensitive to gluten you may not have symptoms now but you will hit a wall at some point. There is good evidence that gluten causes autoimmunity. Gluten is really not a safe food for anyone to eat. However, gluten is just the start of things to remove from the diet and the number one thing that people should be looking at is PUFA.

    • sara

      Agreed! PUFA’s seem to cause more inflammation (which leads to all diseases) than gluten. I don’t think there’s much benefit to eating any grain – veggies, fruits, meats, even dairy contain more nutrition. But PUFA’s (and too much sugar) cause a lot of problems.

  42. Amy

    Thanks for posting this. I work in the supplement department of a large health food store, and something that we see over and over and over again is the person who was told 6 months ago to avoid gluten and is now experiencing digestive difficulties, vaginal yeast infections, and/or immune problems such as increased allergies. All of these symptoms can be traced to an increase in sugar/starch and a decrease in protein and fiber, which is what results from switching to gluten free flours and processed foods.

    Stop eating sugar and grains! Focus on leaves and stems. Use spinach and zucchini instead of gluten free pasta under your marinara sauce. Wrap your sandwiches in iceberg or romaine lettuce instead of bread.

  43. Jenny

    Thank you for this helpful post!

  44. Well said….and sooo true…also the fact they stuff gf with sugar!

  45. Danielle @ Against All Grain @ againstallgrain.com

    Well said as usual Elana! I think for a lot of people, myself included, the initial shock of going gluten-free (and even more with grain-free!) is so much to handle that all of the processed foods look like a God-send. Once you start to re-learn how to cook and recognize what those ingredients actually are though, it is bad news! Thanks for putting this out there. I have family and friends asking me all the time if they should go “off gluten” to lose weight or if they should order the gluten-free pizza to be “healthier”. :)

  46. If I had the choice I would chose to eat gluten and not emit it from my diet completely! I am one of those Coeliac disease sufferers (spelled with an ‘o’ in the UK) that can’t eat wheat, barley, rye or spelt, I don’t eat it because I’d rather feel well in myself than feel ill by eating something I shouldn’t.

    It seems that it’s become a fad with people who don’t have an intolerance not to eat gluten, this to me is madness!! Eating a reduced amount for slimming purposes I can understand but not cutting it out completely, why would you purposely cut something out of your diet that you can eat if it’s going to make you ill doing so?!

  47. Robin

    I had blood allergy tests done a couple of years ago, which indicated no allergy to gluten at all. I was surprised to see that maybe my gluten issue just didn’t show up in the type of test my doctor ordered! I think eliminating SUGAR is the secret, along with a gluten free diet and I am also lactose intolerant, so no dairy. I am eating quinoa, which is a seed, with black beans, etc. Thanks for ideas on other foods to eat. My issue now is variety and what to do at parties. I have no will power, so avoiding the pain is what motivates me to eat properly.

  48. k. wilson

    i have found much to my dismay that gluten free foods,too many whole grain foods, and age, gender, have added pounds that i have never had. i beleive hat gluten free off the shelves especially is not necessarily a good thing. and like other posters, moderation, and diversity in healthy eating choices are a much betterr choice.
    at least when you are baking yourself, you van control what goes in it.
    thanks for an interesting article.

  49. Kim

    The other thing that wasn’t mentioned is that there isn’t any non gmo wheat in the US anymore. It is dwarf wheat and gmo. That isn’t good for anyone celiac or not. GMO foods make the body sick and diseased.

    Everyone needs to be gluten free.

    • Kim K.

      Absolutely agreed. Thank you for pointing this out as well. I often wonder if the use of GMO wheat, which is bred to have a higher gluten content, contributes to the high incidence of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

  50. Elana, thank you for posting this. I live in the San Francisco Bay area and all sorts of gluten-free options are available here but it doesn’t mean it’s all good for us. Sugar is sugar, even if it comes in the form of a gluten-free cupcake. I won’t turn down baked goods if friends show up to my house with them and they made them especially for me. But now I see gluten-free goodies as an occasional treat and my body thanks me for it.

    P.S. I think you need to make “Eat the Rainbow” t-shirts.

  51. Tatjana

    I keep telling the newly diagnosed that convenience foods are just that, whether gluten free, organic, weight watchers, etc. There is no substitute for fruit and veggies, even if they are frozen. We are not a chemistry experiment and shouldn’t treat our bodies that way! Thanks for being a rebel!

  52. Heartsong

    I am a vegan, partly by choice, partly not. My body has a problem with dairy. I became a vegetarian long before I realized that dairy was one of the things specifically hurting my body. I now am gluten free as well. Seems I have a sensitive gut/system. In fact, I have all sorts of food sensitivities and even allergies.

    Anyhow, what you are saying here I think, is that simply eliminating one thing (gluten) or a few things from your diet does not make a healthy diet. This reminds me of my early vegetarian days when I was young and seeking.

    For being such a youngster when I dropped the meat products, I did pretty well. I quickly realized that there was a big hype about all these fake meat products. Yuck. They had any number of terrible ingredients.
    It was particularly galling to watch as other vegetarians claiming to be on such a healthy diet were simply not eating meat, but continuing in the white bread a french fry genre of diet. Yes, dropping gluten may be a healthy thing, if it means one has an eye toward looking at a healthy diet and crafting one that works for your body, but dropping one or several things from ones diet and continuing to eat a plethora of junk needs a finger pointed at it.
    Thanks for being that finger.

  53. Sara B.

    FYI – your claims about sorghum & millet are inaccurate & misleading to your readers. If you had done research as simple as checking nutrition fact panels from Bob’s Red Mill products you would have discovered this and not made the claims that sorghum & millet are not as nutritious and as wheat (or that they contain significantly less protein & more carbohydrates). This blog post had a great intent however it is obvious you are not familiar with the science behind the subject and did not take the time to fact check your claims.

  54. Dana sanchez @ danaleslieorganics.net

    I am really glad to see the point of gluten free and healthy being addressed
    My moto is eat close to the source as well.
    Thank so much for the post.

  55. TeeDee

    I have no idea if I’m gluten intolerant or not, but I do know that when I decided to give it up (after reading Wheat Belly)I started losing weight, had few if any cravings for excess food, had blood pressure and fasting blood glucose drops to extremely healthy levels, eliminated the joint pains I was having, and have not been troubled by the psoriasis/psoriatic arthritis which had begun to plague me around age 50. I was, however, appalled by some of the books out there touting all these unhealthy sounding recipes for gluten-free baked goods using starches and sugar galore. However, like Nat, I keep a loaf of gluten-free bread in the freezer and have one piece of toast with my Sunday breakfast. I found this to be the best way (for me)to keep any cravings for baked goods at bay. We rarely buy processed foods anymore and basically eat plenty of protein, healthy fats like olive oil and plenty of greens and other veggies. Hubby does like a flaxseed wrap a few times a week which I can whip up in a few minutes with 3T flaxseed, 1/8 tsp. baking powder, a pinch of sea salt, a sprinkling of sesame seeds and one egg with a tablespoon or so of water…spread it out on a lunch sized plate and microwave for 3 minutes and it’s done (and he’s happy doing without the baguettes he used to adore).
    Thanks for the post, Elana :)

  56. Rick

    I think the natural first reaction when adapting a GF diet is to crave carbs, which leaves the door open for high sugar GF foods such as cookies and cakes. I went through it, and in moderation, that’s OK, but it can’t become habit. GF isn’t always healthful food.

  57. Jenn Irwin @ gfconnoisseaur.com

    My thoughts exactly!!! Well said!

  58. LisaD

    Gluten free may not mean that you are getting healthy,true, but it does mean that you are getting rid of a lot of processed foods and by default taking those small steps to GET healthy. Not only does it help people with allergies or intolerances, but it is PROVEN to help behaviors in children/adults on the Autism Spectrum. A naturopathic dr is the best to inform you on what you need to do when you cut out wheat, grains and even diary, and where you will then need to get your nutrients (minerals and vitamins) from.

  59. Toni @ Boulder Locavore @ boulderlocavore.com

    Amen! My children and I are gluten free due to medicial necessity and have been for over 6 years now. It’s a learning curve to master the diet though what became quickly clear is exactly what you state; you don’t have to eat healthy to eat gluten free. I was just helping a new GF mom and explained you can eat Snickers bars and Fritos and be gluten free. We’ve found the optimum approach is sticking closely to whole foods. It’s healthy and requires far less ‘thinking’ or label reading. Thanks for this article Elana.

    • Toni @ Boulder Locavore @ boulderlocavore.com

      P.S. I bake the bread we eat and completely concur with your nutrtional statement. I have always been concerned about the low protein and fiber in GF products. I augment our bread recipe with hemp and chia seeds to address that. It adds a lovely texture and heightens the nutrional content. We don’t have a choice but feel we’ve found a way to optimize the diet for our needs.

  60. Thanks Elana! I couldn’t agree with you more. I think that what you offer in the world of healthy gluten-free recipes that include almond flour is a real blessing.

    Three years ago, I got sick of the same thing in the gluten free world: products made with stripped flours and starches. Everyone knows and hears that whole grains are best for optimum health, so why aren’t there any available to the gluten-free eaters?

    More over some of the gluten-free manufacturers use microcrystalline cellulose = WOOD PULP. Really people!?! Putting wood pulp in our food.

    So I got together with 2 nutritionist to create our product line. All whole grain, non-GMO, DELICIOUS products. http://www.theglutenfreebistro.com/product/

    Check us out. You can print this sheet and take it into your favorite grocery store and ask them to step up their gluten free game http://www.theglutenfreebistro.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/RequestOurProductLetter.pdf

  61. emily stone

    i am unclear about what is processed and what is not. how do you know if something is a “processed food”?

    • sally

      Hi emily, I find that if an item doesn’t grow in a field or on a tree then its processed. A carrot is not processed because its a whole food that is pulled out of the ground. A cake is made of lots of processed ingredients, just remember, cakes don’t grow in a field. If they did though, that would be one awesome field.

  62. Noel

    Here here!!!
    Yes, replacing junk food with gluten free junk food is not a good plan! It’s driving me crazy b/c my kids see “gluten free” and think it’s automatically okay — or maybe they’re just happy to feel accommodated and recognized.
    I’m so glad when people bring this issue out in the open!

    Regarding almonds, I think some people handle them better than others. I don’t bake much, but when I do, I love having your recipes available — almond flour and coconut flour. Thank you!!!

    : )
    Noel

  63. Mom Steiner

    You go girl. Tell them like it is.

  64. MamaCassi

    I thought the EXACT same thing, and was teaching a class at my church and printed off ingredients for Betty Crocker cake mix and Betty Crocker gluten-free cake mix. Much to my surprise and shock, the gluten-free cake mix had more real ingredients, far fewer ingredients, and less preservatives and odd concoctions.

    So I’ve changed my tune. I don’t think that gluten-free processed foods count as foods. I consider them junk. But I think they’re quality and freshness are often better than the standard fare. That, and they’re less addictive.

    I wish gluten-free individuals could be aware of this study:
    http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/ScienceResearch/ResearchAreas/RiskAssessmentSafetyAssessment/UCM264152.pdf
    “In sum, these findings indicate that a less than 1 ppm level of gluten in foods is the level of exposure for individuals with CD on a GFD that protects the most sensitive individuals with CD and thus, also protects the most number of individuals with CD from experiencing any detrimental health effects from extended to long-term exposure to gluten.”

    Most gluten-free products are not held to this standard, and are not truly and safely gluten-free.

    That said, a well-balanced, real foods diet, without gluten-free processed foods is ideal, and what I provide for my family. And most of the gluten-free junk out there is a. not gluten-free, b. still junk, so c. not healthy! In short, I agree, but with a slightly different bent!

    Blessings and peace-
    Cassi

  65. sally

    About time that the non coeliac public realised this. Just because a person doesn’t eat gluten doesn’t automatically make them healthier than a gluten eater. I don’t eat gluten because it damages my body, end of story. I choose healthy foods because I prefer to be healthy. Simple.

  66. SherriS.

    I totally agree! It is amazing how much gf food is now out there but that doesn’t mean it’s good for us. I’m guilty of buying a lot of gf junk when it first came out but as my body rebelled I had to listen and now make healthier choices.

  67. Michelle

    Thank you. Well said and long overdue.

  68. eden

    Well said!

    I read the following rhyme once and it stuck with me:

    Just because it’s gluten free
    Doesn’t mean it’s good for me

    I have celiac disease, so for me gluten is poison. But that doesn’t give me a green light to grab anything labelled “gluten free”… I still have to decide if I’ve worked out enough to indulge in a cookie, or a big pasta dinner… just like anyone else who needs to watch what they eat. Veggies, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains are my friends, just like anyone with “normal” guts.

  69. molly

    Even though it may be a “gluten free craze” right now or gluten is the “bad molecule” of the moment, I gotta say I love the awareness it has created and stirred… because, unlike fat and carbs, gluten is actually part of a very real, very hurtful disease. People actually know what gluten is when I tell them I can’t eat it, and even as little as three years ago, people had no clue. There have definitely been positive consequences of the “gluten bad molecule movement.”

  70. QueenJellyBean

    Thank you for saying this Elana. Great headline. Your recipes have been the antidote for starch-filled “GF” store bought products. I didn’t know how to address the unhealthy standard GF diet. Thank you for sharing your fabulous whole-ingredient, close-to-the-earth recipes. Your site talks the walk. Now … about GF gnocchi – or GF pumpkin gnocchi – just wondering if you’ll even test recipe some gnocchi? It’s the one thing I never see GF, which I’ve been since 2007. Keep up the fabulous work you do. Thank you.

  71. Kathryn

    I was amazed at the lack of nourishment I found in gluten free foods – they are so processed! thank goodness someone finally addressed the issue. The husband of a friend of mine was diagnosed with colon cancer. She didn’t understand why he should develop that when he was on a gluten free diet!!! Duh! She hadn’t increased his fiber or anything . . . he was still living on a highly processed diet.

  72. Susan

    Sadly, we are not the real audience for Elana’s message. Most folks who have sought out and regularly read blogs like Elana’s have done so for our own personal health and dietary restrictions or choices, and generally understand the distinction between gluten-free and low-glycemic foods. As Elana pointed out in an earlier post, there is a strong correlation between celiac disease and diabetes, and many people who need to eliminate gluten also need to reduce their carbs and glycemic load. As a result they feel better and lose weight. The general public often does not recognize this “other level” and just assume gluten-free will result in improved health and weight loss. The food manufacturers are taking advantage of this misunderstanding. It is profit.

    Yes, there is some controversy about whether high-glycemic foods are healthy or not. The answer is not simply yes or no, it is “it depends.” For a growing number of people the answer is yes. Most commonly this is due to diabetes, but there are many other metabolic or health issues that are relieved by adapting a low-glycemic diet. Often those reasons are related, directly or indirectly, to insulin production.

    I don’t have diabetes or celiac disease, but I discovered that my growing problem with irregular heatbeat and palpitations was nearly eliminated when I changed to a low-glycemic diet. Why? No one knows. Doctors just shrug. Regardless of the cause, I seek out recipes that use low-carb, satisfying alternatives so I don’t feel too tempted to eat something that will make me feel terrible. All I know is that something about the triggers for insulin production in my body causes something else to go wrong and results in scary irregularities in my heartbeat. So is a high-glycemic diet the cause of heart disease? Of course I can’t say that, because I’m the only person I’ve ever heard of who gets palpitations due to carbs. But for ME, it is related. Each of you need to accept that your own personal observations and adjustments are not universal. Don’t get upset because someone promotes foods that you don’t find work for your personal diet.

    But back to the general public. The fact is, when you understand how the body adjusts to low-glycemic intake, you might understand why some people seem remarkably healthier and even thinner when they change their diets, depsite the increased intake of nuts and oils. It’s all about how your body processes these foods – storage, energy, or elimination? If you eat a lot of carbs, you body’s systems are geared toward storing food as fat. That’s what insulin does. If you don’t eat many carb, and therefore have low levels of insulin in your system, it’s first impulse during digestion is NOT storage. It’s that easy. If you eat carbs and lots of nuts, oils, and high-calorie foods, you will get fat. If you don’t eat many carbs, you body uses those calories differently.

    If high-glycemic foods don’t bother you and you have no ill-effects or weight problems, then harrah for you! The rest of us (at least me) will envy your tolerance. Yes envy. I would LOVE to eat a sandwich on chewy, crusy bread, a piece of pizza, or a platter of sushi. When the cravings have been getting too much, I make a batch of muffins or cookies with almond flour. No it isn’t as satisfying, nothing is, but it takes the edge off and that’s what I need to stay healthy.

    Whether you are a celiac, diabetic, have general food allergies, or even people like me, who have no idea why they have intolerances to certain foods, then perhaps Elana’s recipes are helpful for adjusting to your new diet. But if you can eat or tolerate foods that she cannot, then don’t blame her for saying those items are not healthy. In general, she is correct. They are not healthy for her, nor for a great many of us. As you get older, they may not be healthy for you either even if the are now. Few sites will be perfectly adapted to our individual needs, but feel free to make adjustments that work for you. Just because she can’t eat beans or quinoa doesn’t mean you cannot. It doesn’t mean she thinks you shouldn’t. Don’t blame the blogger if their needs are not the same as yours. it is your responsibiity to learn and adjust for your own requirments.

  73. The wheat of today is not the wheat that our parents and grandparents grew up with – it’s a hybridized version of a grain that now contains up to 6 times the amount of gluten it did even 50 -100 years ago. We simply haven’t evolved to eat this “new” wheat, so I think gluten is difficult for a huge segment of our population. But the key is listening to your body. If you’re paying attention, it will tell you nearly everything you need to know. Rewarding yourself with sweet gluten substitutes is a natural progression toward making this life style change, but when the dust settles, find out what works for you – whether it’s almond flour or a GF flour mix or the elimination of most grains…just ask your self how you feel. As for me, the last thing I eat is anything packaged that is labeled as gluten-free. All the gluten substitutes make me feel as bad as gluten. When I decided to deal with the stresses in my life and started listening to my body, it all came together for me…only took 20 years :)

  74. I had my autistic son on a gluten free diet for a year. So I know that a gluten free diet can be restrictive, and that you are losing some important vitamins and minerals when you are eating gluten free. I off-set that by making sure he got fresh vegetables, and supplements.

  75. sandy

    Thank you for your insightful words. I know a few celiac sufferers and have watched them gain weight, lose control over their health simply because they did not look at the whole nutritional picture. I am diabetic and have sought out food options to reduce my carb load, increase my protein and fiber without sacrificing the foods I enjoy. In so doing I started looking onto the celiacs world for flour substitutions.To make such changes in one lifestyle is difficult and convenience seems to be the priority rather than finding the best options for better health. Sadly the idea that one must cook seems to be a great challenge in our society.I understand that when one works full time, have a busy family life that finding time is hard but if ones health is sacrificed what has one gained?

    • kmorganics @ kmorganics.com

      I am also diabetic and have been for 44 years. I have found some very low carb and healthful foods that are tolerated by diabetics as well as exercise and healthy eating. I carry some of these items in my store and would be happy to discuss what you might be interested in or what I have found to be usefull for myself. Please contact me if you are interested. kmorganics.com

  76. Christine

    Brava to you Elana for being brave enough to share your own personal journey in search of wellness with the rest of us who are also seeking answers and solutions for our own bodies. I learn so much from your blog and adapt so many of your insights and also use so many of your recipes on my own journey. Since learning of the dangers in rice and corn etc., for Celiacs, I especially appreciate learning more and more about eating Paleo/Primal. Thank you for taking precious time from your own wellness program and from spending precious time with your own family, to share with those of us who are also seeking methods back to good health! You are a beacon of light Elana! Hugs x

  77. kmorganics @ kmorganics.com

    Gluten Free is not always about being unhealthy it is about not tolerating gluten. There are people such as those with celiacs that can not tolerate Gluten, as well as others that get deathly ill when they eat gluten. It is about educating yourslef with a nutritionist’s help and learning what you can tolerate and what not. There are some good gluten free foods with very low sugar, low sodium, healthy qualities and so much more. Education is key. Do your homework and you will find some very good healthy foods that Gluten Free and good for a healthy diet. kmorganics.com

  78. I really like this post but perhaps for a different reason than you intended. I am somewhat conflicted about the gluten-free craze. It has really been great for me drawing attention to the gluten-free lifestyle because restaurants and especially stores carry more gluten-free products. However, I agree that gluten-free shouldn’t in and of itself be associated with healthy. When being gluten-free becomes a diet fad, it takes away from the actual seriousness of the health problems experienced by people with celiac disease and real gluten intolerance. I’ve had too many people, upon finding out that I can’t eat gluten, say to me, “Oh I’ve been thinking of trying that. I heard it’s really healthy”. These are people that don’t have any other health problems. Most of them just want to lose weight. I explained to them that it’s really only for people who are intolerant. I hate people assuming that I’m just on some fad diet, when it’s a lifestyle thing for me that is really important. The reason a lot of people feel better on a gluten-free diet is because most gluten-free products don’t have preservatives in them, as they are made by small companies. As this movement becomes more popular, big-name brands are touting their gluten-free products that aren’t preservative-free/junk free ingredients (Zataran’s comes to mind-some of their products contain MSG but are still gluten-free!).

  79. I heard a quote the other day that is along the lines of your advice… “if earth made it, eat it. If man made it, don’t.” I think this is where white flour appliess. Gluten tolerance or not, I think this is good advice to live by. :)

  80. Kathi @ foxzilla

    My only comment would be that the headline should have read: Gluten Free is Not “Necessarily” Healthy. Many of the gluten free products contain other not so healthy ingredients. I agree gluten is probably not good for anyone.

  81. Finley Kelly

    Hi! Elana,
    Your article about the glten free diet is so true in my case. I have been trying hard to stay away from wheat. But not only wheat. Actually, all grains. Even then, I still had a sensitivity to a lot of other foods. Mine is not severe. My skin would become hyper sensitive.
    This January I started making water kefir. I really needed the probiotics! Dairy was also out so the water kefir was great! Since then, I have been able to eat a bit of wheat. The other grains seem to be the ones I still react to the most, but a lot less than before! I am able to eat a variety of foods again!
    Thanks for the information!
    Finley

  82. Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy @ glutenfreehappytummy.com

    i agree, sad but true. whole foods is the way to go! :)

  83. I found that complex carbs matched with coconut flour and a very digestable carb such as Hawaiian Taro Flour/Powder is the best combination for nutrients. The only certified gluten-free taro powder is from Voyaging Foods since they manufacture their Hawaiian Taro powder in Hawaii at http://www.voyagingfoods.com. Look for gluten free with natural Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Vitamin E, fiber and iron. Not easy but they are out there!

  84. I LOVE this post (and most of your posts). I shared it on my Facebook page (small readership:P). This is what I’m ALWAYS trying to tell people.

    I DO eat gluten (although not much anymore) but I don’t eat dairy, soy or sugar-cane. Whenever I splurge and eat “fake” cheese – Daiya – for example – I don’t claim that I’m eating healthier. I’m eating processed cheese, it just happens to be better for ME than real cheese but I’m by NO means claiming to be healthier. The healthier choice in these scenarios is to always just remove!

    Eat lots of veggies, fruit, nuts, meat (if that’s your thing) and eat it in the best possible form that you can. Occasionally eat rice or rice pasta if you need to, but balance it out with more whole eating. I love the eat the rainbow concept. I hated that I had to eat healthy as a kid and rebelled against in during my whole cooking-for-myself-for-the-first-time 10 years of my life, but now it’s all about fresh fresh fresh again!

    This gluten-free trend will likely carry over to new things soon. For example: why is no one talking about the amount of processed SOY people are eating? Just because soy falls in the healthy food section, doesn’t mean a person should consume ALL of those things! Balance, balance, balance!

    I got into a rant.. Great post :) @changingkitchen

  85. Megan

    Nutrition is such a personalized experience. I agree with and eat very similarly to Elana. i have hashi’s/gluten intolerance and am still figuring out what works best for me. I eat paleo for the most part, but lately have been realizing its a bit too low carb for me (eating too low carb can stress your thyroid) and have recently discovered that I do best adding in a bit of “safe” starches like potatoes and white rice here or there. I’m active and this addition seems to really help. Even though I elminated almost everything, I recently discovered I might have a FODMAP issue (cherries and apples caused major discomfort and that tipped me off!) so am exploring how to deal with that.

    I think eating whole.unprocessed.nutrient dense FOOD is the key to health. Frankenfoods/overly sweetened/modified food should be eliminated. Treats like on this site should be indulged in occasionally and not an every day thing – at least for me. I agree with some that the flour blends made with rice, tapioca, potatoes etc are helpful and sometimes a bit easier to digest than almond or coconut flour…I use them all, but again, only for special occasions. Corn can mess with my belly so I limit that as well.

    What works for me, may not work for you….what do they say? Your mileage may vary :)

  86. Trista

    I love this post! Thanks for bringing this discussion up Elana. It is so true. Replacing gluten foods with gluten free alternatives is a distaster waiting to happen. Gluten is bad, but so are processed carbohydrates. Real food made with real ingredients is answer.

  87. I could not agree more with your post. I’ve been gluten free for two years and truly believe it saved my life. However, it was only the first step. I wish going gluten free was the cure all, but I have learned that it is not. I’m SO thankful that if I want to have some junk once in awhile that there are options, but as you said “junk is still junk”. I recently began eating the Paleo way and am feeling so much better. Gluten is a monster, but it’s not the only one.

  88. Ester Perez @ supermilkmama.com

    Thank you for bringing out the point that there is a lot of gluten free junk food out there. For those that do eat grains…it best to eat gluten free grains in their whole form that have been properly soaked overnight with a little apple cider vinegar or whey to make them more digestible and to remove phytic acid. Then rinse well and cook with lots of vegetables. Its all about having balance.
    I sometimes use sprouted brown rice flour or sprouted buckwheat flour for baking. Lately I have been baking with organic blanched almond flour because it is low glycemic, high in protien and makes the most amazing bread!!!!
    Thanks again for the great post and I love what your Dad said about eating the rainbow. I will share that with my kids. They will love it!!!!
    Blessings,
    Ester

    • Teresa

      Yes! Many gluten free products are made with very high GI starchy processed flours that are not healthy!! My biggest concern right now is eating low GI foods, whole grains and minimal wheat, but if I do eat wheat it is stone ground whole grain wheat. I cant seem to make heads or tails of soaking in vinegar, why would I want to break down my food before it reaches my stomach? yes I get the anti nutrient issue but really?? I eat a very balanced and broad range of food that I’m getting what I need. Why break down a grain befor digestion – wouldn’t that make it high GI?

  89. S.

    I wonder how the non-wheat eaters, who don’t have a major gluten intolerance would feel eating foods like pearl barley, or wheat germ.

    I’ve had digestive problems for a long time, the gluten-free fad came about at the same time my issues started unfortunately and so it made it seem to everyone around me I was following a fad instead of taking an actual concern in my health.

    Wheat is a nutritious food, it’s a source of a number of minerals that are really good for your skin health and going gluten free for me meant an itchy scalp and itchy little blisters on my feet (a type of eczema from lack of nutrients)

    On the flip side removing some starchiness/stodginess (breads and rices) from your diet does make you feel better because these foods are simply hard to digest, if your body doesn’t have to put the effort into digesting these things anymore it’ll put the energy into digesting the other things you eat and you could just be getting more nutrients (energy) that way.

    • Lisa H

      Dear “S”, have you had the blood test for Celiac? Those little blisters on your scalp and feet are a sure sign. Get it checked out if you haven’t already. Take care

    • Lise

      I’m sorry but wheat is NOT good for you, it hasn’t been for a hundred or so years. Check out the book called “wheat belly” by a Dr….i forget his name, but that should tell you why.

  90. myooks

    THANK YOU! Finally someone says it.

  91. BJ Hall

    All I can say is if I eat gluten even if it is a gram I am so ill! Yes, they use dairy and sugar to add taste to gluten free products. So, instead of make what I need using a gluten free flour. If I kept eating gluten I would have never have had a life. So, I think we have to be careful how we say things for everyone has their own experiences.

  92. Lyn

    I think your title is just too broad. Gluten free doesnt mean you can eat any processed gluten free items and be instantly healthy. It is, however, a god send to people like me who before gluten free were afraid to stray too far from a toilet and suffered horrible abdominal pain.

  93. Vincent

    I have read this blog, and am glad that you have posted this. My mother was diagnosed with celiac a few years ago and has eliminated glutten from her diet, however tends to think that simply because glutten has been eleminated it is a healthier way of eating. I have been disputing with her about this and to finally find a legitimit article such as yours about the difference between eating glutten free and healthy eating is reasuring.

    I simply wanted to leave you with a thank you.

  94. Violet Bradtke

    I am a diabetic that has started to use Elana’s recipes and I am feeling lots better. I never realized that I also may have had a gluten intolerance. Trying these recipes makes me feel so much better. I don’t have the foggy brain like I used to and I am keeping my glucose numbers a lot lower than before!

  95. Jane

    This is an interesting post, because I think a lot of emphasis with the marketing of newly-available “gluten free” foods is on “replacing all those gluten-y foods you miss with non-gluten junk food.” When I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance several years ago, I felt a lot of anger and irritation at the restrictions this created and tried to revel in what “tasty foods” I could still enjoy (rice pasta in thai dishes, polenta or risotto on the Italian front, etc.). However, it turns out I have some blood sugar sensitivities and metabolic issues, and carbs in general are increasingly off the plate… I no longer miss gluten, and if I have rice or the like it’s a very small serving with a protein-filled meal or at dinner on a special occasion. I think the products in your photo — sugar cereals made with non-gluten grains — are pitched to people in that initial stage of “acceptance” that they have a restriction, but in the end these foods try to perpetuate a fantasy of “healthy choices” for gluten-free folks. If you’re gluten-free and constantly looking for that perfect pancake mix etc., maybe it would be better to look at a whole foods alternative to that pancake — like making a sweet potato hash at breakfast, or GF baked oatmeal.

    Unfortunately, the “gluten free replacement products” offered by many manufacturers aren’t very nutritious, even from manufacturers committed to their gluten-free audience or from, say, the awesome pasta maker at my farmer’s market who makes gluten-free noodles. At the end of the day, all gluten-free packaged carbs are a “treat.” The typical rice bread, for instance, has no fiber and not much nutrition vs. say your typical multi-grain wheat bread — however, if you’re gluten-free and jonesing for a grilled cheese, or want to make home-made croutons, etc. that rice bread is an OK option to keep in the freezer. Or if I really want some bad-for-me comfort food, I get an Amy’s Rice Mac n Cheese — one portion per package. Again: This should be seen as a treat! Not daily food.

    The nutritionist I work with agrees generally that a paleo-style diet (no wheat or dairy or junk) modified with addition of some low-glycemic carbs (legumes, sweet potatoes, brown rice) only at breakfast and lunch is smart for an adult with my mix of challenges. Of course, everyone has different challenges. And I think many of these sugary gluten-free products may also be pitched to parents of GF kids who want to be able to give the little folks the same treats other kids get. But if you’re an adult, you do not need GF carb substitutes any more than you needed the gluten!

  96. jennifer hirshhorn

    I am allergic to coconut and cannot figure out where on this site to ask my question, so I am doing it here. What can I use as a subsitute in Elana’s recipes that call for coconut oil and coconut flour? Any information would be much appreciated. Thank you.

  97. Kim

    You make more sense than anything I have read!

  98. Great article. They are always saying what we “should not” eat but not telling us what we “should” eat.

  99. Theo

    Elana: Another GF food u may want to add your list – that is less nutritious than wheat (lower protein & higher carb profile)and has a higher GL (glycemic load) profile is arrowroot flour. Wheat’s GL = 14. Arrowhead root’s GL = 17. It has no proteins & 25g of carbs (vs. 21g with wheat flour). Arrowroot is a primary ingredient in your bread recipes. The other starches in GF flours (rice,tapioca, potato,etc..) are worst. It appears if we want to keep eating our breads, pizza, crackers,etc….while avoiding wheat – we have to bite the bullet & work with arrowroot & other higher glycemic GF flours. Ugh!!!

  100. Emmanuel Roux @ FlourFreeCakes.com

    I participate to gluten free food shows and I am astonished by the poor quality of products displayed.
    Gluten free junk food is still junk food
    If most people would use a diet based on fresh organic products and local produce there might be less gluten sensitivity.
    Thank you for good recipes.
    Don’t forget that pleasure is also part of any sensible sustainable diet

  101. Folly

    It is quite obvious that so many of you even if you have celiac disease don’t even understand what or why gluten free is required. First of all being gluten free is to save your life or correct a genetic defect. It is not a popular fad try on for the season and then bad mouth it if it does not work for you.

    First gluten is a type of protein did you know that? It is not just because it is a grain —it is because of it being a specific type of protein. And that specific type of protein can wreak havoc on human beings who happen to have the type of small intestine damage which then cannot handle that type of protein because of several reasons.

    It may be because of a mutation, deletion, partial or otherwise to the celiac gene. It also may be because the person may have another type of diagnosed or undiagnosed metabolic disorder that they can be born with or acquired because of a severe bacterial, viral, or other injury to the body from transplants, any one of the surgeries to staple, by pass or otherwise damage your stomach to loose weight–bariatric surgery. As one bariatric surgeon told me –we take perfectly good bodies and break them. And now they have also found out in the process they can create new metabolic disorders including those that may cause medical mayhem from ingesting protein.

    In any case the villi in the small intestines is again becoming damaged and gluten can become the enemy as well as sources of other proteins. It may be the problem of too much protein like too much sugar for diabetes.

    Thus going gluten free and choosing alternate grains lowers your intake of proteins. This type of diet is also used for kidney diseases, liver cancers and other diseases. Thus attacking gluten when you really don’t understand what you are attacking is wrong.

    Sadly as the food industry does they get on the bad wagon trying to mimic what we who are ill have already been buying for years from certain sources –gluten free food—they wanted in on the market. Those in it for the money are easy to spot: breakfast cereals that say they are gluten free but have a boatload of other bad ingredients –and the same with any other product you eat throughout the day. And just because you buy it at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods does not mean the substitute ingredients are any better for you. For example I have learned about sorbitol poisoning in the worst way—hidden in an electrolyte product. However there are about 6-7 fruits that are your sorbitol enemies —and they are advertised as the best for you from the time you can drink juice —just paving the way for diabetes.

    So instead of trying to follow fads and then complain about them. Understand what gluten free is all about. Discuss if you really need to be on it with your doctor–a geneticist or metabolic specialist. I have an endocrinologist, and two metabolic geneticists on my medical team along with liver and GI specialists. Believe me….gluten free may have to be a way of life to live. So please, under stand it, respect it, and if you don’t need it….enjoy regular food for me. I miss it but I know it can kill me. So I do without.

    Please respect those of us that have to do so. Life is not easy….there are so many other foods I cannot have either –like a juicy red steak. A glass of wine. A roast pork. Thanks giving turkey. And no tofu is not an answer –soy is protein also. Soy can kill me also. I live on 30 grams of protein a day –gluten free. And there are babies, children, and adults dying with my disorders and diseases. Gluten Free is okay by me. Lucky you that can have your cake, eat too, and then complain. I hope you never have this fate.

  102. K. Blue

    I can not claim to have a chronic gastrointestional condition, but there were times when I was young, that I would react to what I have deduced to be certain types of processed dairy. Thank you for your wonderful insight Elena. I understand what your getting at and it made me rethink WHY I was interested in gluten-free diets.

    Being healthy is a multi-faceted endeavor, and for some people it is more difficult than others due to various genetic predispositions. HOWEVER, I do believe that society has become accustomed to foods of convenience. Foods loaded down with sugar and foods that act like sugar. The big double whammy is wheat. Additional protein aside (gluten does not contribute to essential amino acids), contains gluten and provides a blood sugar spike.

    I agree with Megan above. Nutrition is something personal and not everyone is going to eat the same things. As long as a person makes a researched and rational decision to limit or exclude gluten from their diet, I don’t see why people can’t experiment (gluten intolerant or not).

    Sometimes a person can expand their knowledge by sharing in the experiences of others.
    A dear friend of mine was diagnosed with Chrone’s disease, and it prompted me to investigate dietary health. The world of food is wide and vast, and there is almost no limit (monetary perhaps) to the options available.

    Cheers,
    K. Blue

  103. SB_Australia

    My toddler is allergic to wheat (diagnosed by both scratch test & blood testing) & I was horrified by the wheat free alternatives on the market. The sugar & salt content seems to be excessive, which could be to mask the disgusting after taste from the guar gum! Since the diagnosis we actually eat a LOT better because I make almost everything from scratch! Pizza night is now home made pizza night, burger night is now home made burger night & all the treats are home baked too. The kids are getting a lot less e-numbers in their diet & their behaviour is out of sight better & DH & I have lost 14kg between us with more going each month!

    I object to the gluten free goods being in the health food aisle because I think it misleads people into thinking that the product is good for them.

  104. Thank you so much for the information!

  105. Agnes

    I agree, and was thinking this recently. I’m only on a gluten free diet for the past few months. Before this I ate all whole foods and little processed, now I’m eating bread baked with white refined flours, refined pastas, and other refined foods as a result of having to use gluten free flour. I dislike all this refined food but if I’m going to be gluten free I seem to have no other choice. Apart from that of course I eat healthy, and try not to buy these bars you can get in the health food shops as I believe they might contain lots of fats.
    Anyway its all a learning process isn’t it.

  106. healthy life focus social account @ youtube.com/channel/UCptFbG_v8tsyrrU48-ZpsIQ

    These foods will help you control cholesterol
    levels as well as giving you the feeling of feeling fuller.
    Of course, expecting and having your first-born child is a
    mixture of excitement, happiness, and worry. Having a glass of water before meals will decrease levels of
    hunger and it will enable you to eat less.

  107. Victoria H.

    I’ve experienced this “trap” personally. When I was diagnosed gluten/dairy sensitive 3 years ago I got so distracted with the “gluten free” offerings in the market my normal reading the ingredients seemed to go out the window. After 6 months I realized I had developed some very bad habits (albeit “gluten free”) – think Udi’s double chocolate muffins where the FIRST ingredient is corn syrup….YIKES! I was in total denial. Back to eating whole, clean foods with treats as an exception. About a year ago I stumbled across a Paleo cookbook – I don’t consider myself Paleo – but by default these recipes are all gluten & dairy free. These recipes also align with my beliefs in eating “real” foods as the major part of my diet and keeping processed foods down to a bare minimum. I do not feel deprived but I do feel very good about eating in a way that has been nothing but good for my overall health.

  108. rtupper

    I feel that some who go on a gluten free diet are disillusioned and uninformed when they decide to make this change. They still crave a sense of normalcy with the foods they are used to eating and as a result eat unhealthy gf alternative products that are just as bad as What they gave up. My mom has been on this type of gf diet for years and can’t understand why she still suffers from arthritis and doesn’t lose any weight. She simply is too attached to her old way of eating that and has an emotional connection to the foods she eats. I have found that letting go to the emotional connection of food and viewing it from a standpoint of nourishment as opposed to a source of pleasure helped to make it easier o give up the foods that I was so attached to. Thank you to Elana for exposing this misconception in what is now an increasingly saturated market of gluten free products. Making good choices is easy when you educate yourself with the facts!

  109. I am allergic to nut and eggs as well as gluten, so grain free bakery products and recipes don’t really work for me. I buy the Food For Life Brown Rice bread once a month or so, and eat it sparingly. I am also allergic or sensitive to chicken, lamb, and beef (and fish, shellfish, and peanuts, sigh). Fruits, veggies, and beans are most of what I eat now, along with coconut milk.

Leave a Reply

↑ back to top