By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Thinking about gluten free? Wondering why is gluten bad? Well, there's a lot you need to know. And spoiler: Gluten isn't bad for people who don't have a reaction to it. Learn all about gluten myths and facts, plus what you need to know about a wheat-free diet.
As a dietitian, I get asked about carbs and gluten all the time! And I'm here to set the record straight about gluten-free diet myths and facts. Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat, and some people avoid gluten because of health concerns or other reasons.
On a personal note, I've been eating a strictly gluten-free diet for a little over a year now. This isn't because I have Celiac disease (I did get tested) but because I have a gluten intolerance. My body really hates me when I eat gluten.
As you'll see from the info I'm sharing below, a gluten intolerance is very different than Celiac disease and is even something that's possible to outgrow. I don't recommend that people who don't need to cut out gluten stop eating it, and in fact I often include gluten-containing foods in the meal plans I create for my clients!
You might be really surprised at some of the myth busting we're doing here today! Ready to learn the ins and outs of what going gluten free really means, plus how to eat a healthy diet while also eating gluten free?
By the way, if you'd like to learn more about gluten-free eating, make sure to check out my gluten-free meal plans at my Etsy storefront!
Gluten Myth: Everyone Should Eat a Wheat-Free Diet
Fact: Think going low carb is the same as going gluten free? Think again! Gluten is not a carb. I repeat, gluten is not a carb! Gluten is actually a protein. If that just rocked your world, you may want to brush up on your gluten trivia.
Many people think eating gluten free is a quick fix for weight loss. But this is one of the top gluten-free myths. Following a gluten-free diet can help you lose weight and may provide other health benefits. However, tt can also cause you to gain weight if you're not careful because many gluten-free foods are very dense.
Also, not everyone will benefit from following a gluten-free diet. The people who undoubtedly will? Folks with Celiac disease or a gluten or wheat allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance.
To find out if you have Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder, you can get a blood test to diagnose for diagnosing Celiac disease. The hard part is for these tests to be accurate, they must be done while you're eating a gluten-containing diet. You can also have a biopsy of the small intestine done via an endoscopy of the small intestine, which can confirm positive blood test results.
If you suspect that you have a non-Celiac gluten sensitivity, a medical professional will likely recommend that you first rule out Celiac disease or a wheat allergies before testing for this. The hard part is that for a gluten sensitivity, there's no standard test that's widely used.
One test that can yield some helpful information is the Mediator Release Test (MRT), a food sensitivity blood test that assesses common foods and chemicals—including barley, wheat, and rye. This test can be ordered by doctors and some dietitians.
If you'd like to find out more about testing for gluten intolerance, take a look at my chat with WellandGood.com
about some of the different testing techniques out there.
Gluten Myth: Shopping for Gluten-Free Foods is Straightforward
Fact: There are many great things about following a gluten-free diet, but the ease of shopping for gluten-free foods is not one of them!
Get used to reading ingredient labels in depth, and pronto. One really good example of the importance of doing so is oats. Oats are gluten free, right? Well, it's unfortunately not that simple. Oats are sometimes gluten free. This is because they can easily become cross contaminated during the growing and processing parts of the supply chain.
Thus, when you're buying any type of oats or oat-containing foods such as oat milk, it's important to read the package to make sure that the food is made with gluten-free oats. Many packages will be certified gluten free, which makes this part of the process easier.
And while buying gluten-free ingredients is a choice for many people, it is not at all for people with Celiac disease. These folks are not able to eat wheat, rye, or even dairy products that contain gluten.
Gluten Myth: Gluten-Free Baking is Super Difficult
Fact: Once you learn how, gluten-free baking is a breeze. So gluten-free baking really can be a no brainer! You just need the right recipes and ingredients. Let me tell you, the first batch of gluten-free pancakes I made were not exactly edible. By the way, making gluten-free French toast is pretty easy, since you can simply use gluten-free bread.
Since those early days of eating gluten free, I've since perfected a few recipes, one of which is a brownie I'm sharing with you here.
The naturally gluten free baked good is tasty and decadent enough that your gluten-free friends and gluten-loving pals will all enjoy it! I love using my own gluten-free flour mix. By the way, my healthy avocado smoothie is also gluten free.
Want to know about more gluten-free facts and myths? I've gathered the top gluten myths and facts in this EverydayHealth.com article, so go ahead test your knowledge!
This blog post was updated in August 2020.
- How to *Officially* Figure Out If You’re Lactose- or Gluten-Intolerant, WellandGood.com
- 9 Need-to-Know Myths and Facts About Gluten, EverydayHealth.com
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I'd love to hear from you! What other gluten free myths and facts would you like to add to this list?