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.