Gluten-Free: Fact or Fib?
Anyone else notice the little markers popping up in almost every restaurant menu to highlight gluten-free dishes?
When I first went gluten-free, most restaurants had few options other than salads. Which I then had to ask about dressings, revealing that even salad dressing could contain gluten which was mind-blowing (& probably slightly annoying to the servers.) Now, even Chick-fl-A has a specially wrapped bun you can assemble yourself if you're truly dedicated.
Our culture is slowly but surely shifting their common practices around the dangers of food allergies as the number of people developing them, especially children, continues to rise. (Perhaps linked to the increased production of GMO's? -We'll save that for another day.) Sadly, most processing companies go to this fixative for its binding abilities and low production costs, which means higher profits-margins for the big guys.
To clarify, gluten (Latin for glue) is a type of protein in common grains like wheat, barley, & rye. It's responsible for that sticky quality we love in our dough before baking bread, or making pasta and grain bars. It's in many of our children's snacks, treats, and even some beverages. Gluten also plays a fair role in beauty products, processed vinegars, and malted milk products. Many still do not see gluten sensitivities as anything more than a health trend. It hides under the label of Gluten-Intolerance, making it seem less harmful than a full-blown allergy. As of today, there is no specific test to identify a 'gluten allergy', but we can track common ailments that tend to cease once gluten is eliminated from our diet.
Many who switch to gluten-free find relief from:
Fatigue | Weakness
Brain Fog | Poor Concentration
Joint Pain | Inflammation
Bloating | Flatulence
Headaches | Migraines
Skin Irritations & Outbreaks
Depression | Anxiety
Even if you only think you could have an intolerance, I'd encourage you to give an elimination diet a go. Cut out all contaminated products/foods for a few weeks to see if you notice a difference or improvement in your body's digestive comfort, joint pain, or headaches & mood. There has been a surge in gluten-free products that provide alternatives to mainstream ingredients. Most grocery stores have gluten-free sections, like Publix's GreenWise Market. Benefits from going gluten-free, or at least consuming much less gluten, have been shown to increase energy levels, aid in weight loss, and improve economic flow to our local, organic markets. (Win-win!)
Though changing your diet isn't the simplest thing to do, it is possible and can be fun to do with small changes. Explore the horizon and try some dishes with brown rice pasta vs regular pasta, or gluten-free crust for your pizza order. You don't have to give up everything, listening to your body is the key!
Know a delicious gluten-free brand or product? Leave it in the comments and share this post with others, so we can add them to our grocery lists!