No one really knows for sure when the Gluten-Free Diet first made its way onto the always-heavily-populated diet scene. But since its arrival, it’s habitually been one of the most popular diet programs out there.
Realistically, this is a diet not really “started” by anyone, but rather one that naturally evolved with our knowledge about the weight-causing effects of gluten-laden products.
What is Gluten?
Gluten isn’t a type of sugar, per se, but the body still has a rather difficult time breaking it down, especially in its processed form. Latin for “glue,” gluten is a protein composite that is found in many food sources, including wheat, rye, barley, and many more. It is found in the endosperm of grass-related grains, and it is definitely not a water-soluble compound.
Gluten contains a lot of elasticity, and it is responsible for the stretch in pizza dough and that air-pocket-laden texture of breads.
Interests of following a Gluten-Free Diet
To understand the Gluten-Free Diet, you only have to understand this: you want to completely eliminate every source of gluten from your everyday diet.
Traditionally, the Gluten-Free Diet was used in order to treat celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestine. This disease is thought to be inherited through genetics, and its symptoms include chronic fatigue, diarrhea, and possible lower abdominal pain.
You do not necessarily have to count your calories, but you still do not want to exceed more calories than what you normally ingest. That basically defeats the purpose of dieting, even if you are eliminating gluten. So, for a rule, we want to cut back our calorie intake by around 350-500 calories. That, along with exercise and the lack of gluten, should have those pounds falling off in no time.
How to Implement the Gluten-Free Diet
Now, it’s important that you realize, for the Gluten-Free Diet, we’re only focused—apart from portion control and exercise, as mentioned above—on actually eliminating the gluten for your diet. And while this might sound ridiculously easy, you will find that there is a whole lot of gluten out there.
To break this down, we’ll go over foods that you should always avoid, avoid unless you have confirmation, and foods that are gluten-similar but are still okay to eat on this diet.
Foods to always avoid
Unlike the Atkins and the CSIRO, we don’t want to limit or monitor gluten consumption. We’re not looking to restrict it at all; we’re looking to completely eliminate it. For that, you’re going to have to pay a lot of attention to the way you shop. Check out the food labels, and always make sure you avoid any food containing gluten.
The foods you should always avoid include: wheat, triticale, spelt, rye, matzo meal, kamut, Durham, barley, bulgur, semolina, graham flour, farina, and any other food containing gluten.
- Avoid unless confirmed gluten-free
There are a lot of foods you’ll see at the grocery store that contain gluten. This can be dangerous for your diet unless you’re always on top of your game. So, in order to avoid the gluten here, you want to check every single thing you purchase to make sure it says “gluten-free.”
So, unless the food says it’s specifically free of gluten, you want to avoid: beer, candy, snacks, cereal, crackers and croutons, oats, pasta, processed meats (lunch meat, sausage, freezer-aisle nuggets, etc), gravies, imitation meat/seafood, bread, sauces, soups, salad dressing, etc.
- Starch/carbs okay to eat
Because of the type of foods the gluten protein is found in, it is often confused with a basic starch. However, many of the foods you may think contain gluten are actually gluten-free. (Don’t take this article’s word for it exactly; you should still check the labels to make sure you’re eating gluten-free food.)
These foods include: rice, tapioca, polenta, corn/cornmeal, buckwheat, quinoa, grits, arrowroot, amaranth, and any flour that you can find labeled gluten-free.