Guest Post: Could Switching to a Gluten-Free Diet Benefit Your Family?

>> Monday, December 19, 2011

Hello friends! I have a guest post for you today from Amanda on the benefits for eating gluten-free. I'm not gluten-free but I do try to reduce my intake or appreciate when I find gluten-free products. I found this topic to be quite helpful and I hope you do too. Thank you, Amanda!

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Diet is a four-letter word in my family. We don’t do it. We don’t even think it. We eat what grows in our region’s farmland and occasionally nibble (okay, devour) what comes out of their pastures. We eat what we feel is best for our bodies, our sanity, and our planet, and we forgive ourselves and try harder next time when we slip up.

Let me make this clear: this is not me telling anyone to lose weight.

The gluten-free diet will, admittedly, help with that. It can help with a lot of other, probably more important things too, like digestive health, skin clarity, and overall I-feel-awesome-ness. But that’s for each family to decide for themselves.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein composite derived from wheat and grains like barley and rye. It’s not just found in bread and pasta, though. It’s often the culprit of many ingredient labels like “shortening,” “natural flavoring,” “thickener,” or “emulsifier.” It’s often what gives soy sauce its caramel color and why our lips feel gooey and kissable when we wear lip balm.

Why shouldn’t we eat it?

The primary beneficiary of a gluten-free diet is someone with Coeliac’s Disease or other autoimmune disorders of the small intestine. For such an individual, eating something as seemingly benign as French toast can cause extremely painful stomach cramps.

Some of us may have trouble digesting gluten and not even know it. Many people who have adult acne or other skin irritations actually may have food sensitivities, and one of the prime suspects is gluten.

What can I expect if my family goes gluten-free?

Firstly, a lot of complaining. No bread? No pasta or pizza? No cake? Not everyone does well without cake.

Many families also do poorly on “diets,” anyway. It’s a little-known statistic that over 90 percent of diets fail and many dieters—many unknowingly—progress to full-blown eating disorders. Family fare and eating habits can play a strong role in a child’s image of food. Be sure that if you do decide to go gluten-free, children are introduced to it gently and informed of its health benefits, not its weight benefits.

There are, of course, many options to keep the family gluten-free and happy. There’s no reason—excepting Coeliac’s Disease—to go full-on gluten-free starting in 2012. Try eliminating gluten from one meal at a time and see how everyone feels. Do your tummies feel better? Do you feel less lazy? Is your skin clearer? If so, slowly and steadily continue replacing breads and pastas with rice (and rice pasta).

In fact, there are many gluten-free options on the market now, like beer brewed from sorghum, gluten-free pizza crust, gluten-free cookies, and the like. Check ingredients lists for those key words like “thickener” or “natural additives” and avoid them if possible. Eat whole, fresh, and naturally high-fiber and -protein foods. Experiment with recipes and have fun. You know the drill. If you’re feeling more energetic, more regular, and less bumpy, you’re doing it right!

About the author:

Amanda Tradwick is a grant researcher and writer for CollegeGrants.org. She has a Bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware, and has recently finished research on grants for women returning to school and student grants in oregon.

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