“Gluten free” is a very popular phrase right now. Following a gluten free diet is hip; gluten is continuously demonised as a source of all kinds of diseases and any weight gain you’ve ever gone through in your life; and, overall, free-from-all labels are incredibly attractive to consumers.
You can’t blame the consumers — some of the points made are not untrue, and it’s hard not to listen to them when you hear them from every corner. More and more people turn to a gluten free diet. That isn’t, necessarily, a bad thing — but it isn’t, necessarily, a good thing, either.
Here are the pros and cons of going gluten free.
The obvious pro: Celiac and co
It is very possible to be intolerant to gluten. The levels of intolerance can vary: anywhere from slight discomfort to full on hours spent hugging the white throne™ at a time, but the fact remains a fact, which is that a lot of people have to cut gluten out.
Some people, due to low levels of intolerance don’t really notice it, or start suspecting other irritants, like lactose or fiber.
To be completely honest, Celiac disease’s existence wasn’t known to me at all up until, say, three years ago (when I’d started watching Jenna Marbles again after a long hiatus and found out her boyfriend had it), so I’d assume that in a lot of places, the levels of awareness about it vary.
So try following a gluten free diet, if you experience any sort of inexplicable discomfort associated with eating and your digestion, and see if it helps — because it might.
Check out this Gluten Free Lemon Cake recipe!
The popular pro: Less carbs
A lot of people are cutting down on gluten because it allows to cut down on carbs and, hence, calory intake.
It can be helpful if you look after your macros properly and if you generally try to follow a healthy lifestyle, not just a gluten free diet.
The implicit pro: Knowledge and awareness
The more attention people pay to what they eat, the more they know about the foods they consume, about the foods that are on the shelves of the supermarkets and about the importance and dangers of different nutrients and diet alterations.
Therefore, watching your diet helps with educating oneself and those around you. And that’s never a bad thing — if you’re not forcing anything on anyone unnecessarily, that is.
However, there is also a number of cons with suddenly changing your lifestyle and adopting a gluten free diet. Here goes.
Check out this Gluten Free Vegan Almond Cake With Summer Fruit recipe!
The obvious con: Imbalance
A lot of people seem to think that carbs are the devil, and cutting them out completely is the way to go.
That’s wrong; carbs are essential to a healthy diet, and are important for your brain to function properly. Just like fats and proteins, they are very important for your body to fuel itself up, and should never be excluded completely.
Sadly, a lot of people don’t realise that and are generally bad at keeping a healthy diet up, much less a healthy gluten free diet. And that will mess your metabolism up if left unchecked.
The second obvious con: It’s not a miracle
Just because you cut gluten out of your diet, it won’t automatically make everything better — unless you have Celiac, that is.
To lose weight you still need a calorie deficit, and you still need to be active. To balance your macros you still need to pay attention to what you eat. To feel full you still need nutrients. To fix your digestive system problems you still need other dietary alterations and, sometimes, even medical help.
Don’t rely on going gluten free to solve all of your problems.
Check out this Gluten Free Chickpea Veggie Burgers!
The natural con: Lack of availability
In Russia, where I’m from, the knowledge in regards to gluten and its potential negative effects is limited, so gluten-free products might not be available everywhere.
In addition, some replacements, like quinoa, can be more expensive than the original, gluten-full products, so following a gluten free diet can be problematic in terms of money too, sometimes. Of course, there are ways to work around it, but you have to do proper research.
The implicit con: The artificial popularity
A lot of people fall into the gluten free diet craze because a celebrity said so.
It doesn’t just stop at gluten, in fact: a lot of people are trying out going keto, lactose free, paleo and god knows what else — there’s too many of those every month — because someone they look up to does that.
There’s always a problem with that; numerous problems, in fact. From the health and money repercussions that I’d mentioned above — because let’s be real, a lot of people start these diets unaware if they actually suit them — to the more complex issues of labour and workers’ rights.
Yes, it is the issue of how capitalism works, not of the diets per se. No, that doesn’t mean that it automatically becomes none-of-your-business.
The increase in demand for cashew milk puts more strains on (mostly Indian) workers to produce more, for minimum wage and in terrible conditions. (Same goes with fake leather, other kinds of milks and foods, you name it.)
Don’t just do it for the craze — think of whether you need that. Because some people actually have to go on gluten free diets to survive properly and relatively comfortably. Some are just putting more strain on them — by consuming what was initially intended for them — and on the workers producing it.
It sucks, but it is what it is, as of now.
Check out this Gluten Free Curried Quinoa Chickpea Burgers recipe!