Perhaps you have heard of the gluten-free diets making waves in the media right now. You may be wondering what is the big deal? What is so bad about gluten anyway? This article seeks to answer your questions and give you the information you need to make an informed decision- to go gluten-free or not.
Taking on a new diet or lifestyle change, as you already know, takes a lot of discipline and effort. It’s in our nature to stick to old habits and that is why breaking habits (especially bad and dangerous ones) is so difficult for us. Our bodies seek to find pleasure and avoid pain. You’ve probably heard the saying, “No pain, no gain”. This is true of the undertaking of a new diet and exercise plan especially if you aren’t the dieting and exercise type. In the beginning of a new diet and exercise plan being implemented, our natural inclination is to say to ourselves, “These exercises are painful”, or “I feel pain from not eating as much as I used to”. However, these are normal responses that our bodies go through to fight us. Yes, our bodies are fighting us when we first implement a new diet or exercise plan. The new plan will be painful, but there will be gains along the way. Not pounds being gained, but rather self-confidence, body toning, muscle growth, healthier organs, increased energy, and overall feelings of well-being. Therefore, the “No pain, no gain” does have some meaning here. Our bodies fight us as they realize that stored fat is being eliminated rather than held onto. As you exercise, your body begins to tap into its fat reserves and this is how you lose weight. You begin to eat less and exercise more, and your body has no choice but to start burning off existing fat.
As hard as you may work to lose weight, there are some barriers that may get in the way. One of those may be a gluten intolerance. Gluten is a term used to categorize a group of proteins found in food called prolamins. Prolamins are found in rye, wheat and barley. Gluten gives foods their dough-like, elastic structure. For some people, a gluten-free diet is necessary due to a condition called Celiac Disease, which affects 1 out of every 133 people, according to the National Foundation of Celiac Disease Awareness. Many products have been created in recent years for people who wish to go gluten-free. However, there are many naturally gluten-free foods that you may have been eating all along that require no special dietary adjustment. Some of the naturally gluten-free foods include fruits, vegetables, fish and seafood, plain meats and poultry, eggs, milk and yogurt. Many foods today, especially processed foods, contain gluten. Therefore, reading labels on products is essential for one to avoid gluten altogether. Many supermarkets now have a gluten-free section of the store in which consumers can choose from many gluten-free options including rice, pasta, cookies, chips, bread, and sauce.
Individuals that have a gluten intolerance suffer from symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, depression, anxiety, constipation, hand and feet numbness, and bone and joint pain. Many people can go years without knowing that they have a gluten intolerance. It is only when the gluten is removed from their diets that they see a major difference in the way they feel. Starting a gluten-free diet is not advisable until a physician gives you a test for Celiac Disease. Cutting out gluten prior to being tested for Celiac Disease can alter the results of the test and lead to a misdiagnosis. Some people report that going gluten-free helps them to not feel constipated and it eliminates abdominal pain. Some people report losing weight after starting a gluten-free diet. There are many benefits to going gluten-free, and the benefits depend largely on the individual who is implementing the diet.
Deciding to go gluten-free is an individual decision. Like any diet plan, it can be difficult to follow and requires much effort and discipline to stick to it day after day, especially if your friends and family are eating many products that do contain gluten. However, if you decide that a gluten-free diet is for you, you should monitor your progress dependent on what your ultimate goal is, and see if going gluten-free is helping you to feel and look better. Some people keep a food journal of all the foods that they have eaten each day and they monitor their weight, waist circumference, and mood to see what foods are helping and which foods are hindering their progress. Many nutritionists now recommend that those who wish to lose weight keep a food and exercise journal, detailing all the foods eaten each day and the amount and type of exercise engaged in to see what works for each individual. The theory behind this practice is that you hold yourself accountable each and every day for the foods you have consumed, and the amount and type of exercise you engaged in, and then you can reflect back on your notes and see what works for you and what doesn’t. Over time, having a food and exercise journal can help to show you patterns in your own eating and exercise habits and therefore provide you with insight into how you should proceed in order to achieve your goals and obtain the best results possible.