As many as one in three American adults is embracing the gluten-free lifestyle, but making the switch isn’t always easy. There are some challenges involved, and not everyone needs to avoid gluten necessarily. Here are 10 key things you should know before you decide to adopt a completely gluten-free diet.
1. Most People Don’t Medically Need to go Gluten Free
Just one percent of the population suffers from celiac disease. For these individuals, adhering to a gluten-free way of life is necessary. For others, going gluten-free may be a choice for better health. You might have a gluten allergy, or you might have what is known as gluten sensitivity. For much of the population, however, avoiding gluten probably isn’t medically necessary.
2. For Celiacs, Eating Gluten Free Can Completely Transform Life
If you have celiac disease, then eating gluten-free can drastically improve your health and your quality of life. Celiac disease symptoms can include abdominal pain, vomiting, fatigue and unwanted weight loss. By adopting a gluten-free lifestyle, those symptoms will start to disappear. Celiacs often report more energy once they ditch gluten completely.
3. Gluten-Free Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy
Avoiding gluten can make people more aware of what they are eating, and it can help some people avoid heavily processed foods. However, gluten-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. Gluten-free foods can still be loaded with sugar, fat, and calories. A diet of gluten-free cookies might be free from gluten, but it won’t be nutritious.
4. You’ll Probably Have to Cook a Lot More
When people first go gluten-free, they often report that they cook far more than normal. That’s because many traditional foods contain gluten, so you’ll have to recreate them at home. You can’t just grab a sandwich from a local cafe, so you’ll need to shop for ingredients and prepare something in advance. This can be a positive, especially if you mean to spend more time in the kitchen.
5. Specialty Gluten-Free Foods Can be Pricey
If you currently eat a lot of processed foods, then switching to gluten-free varieties might be expensive. Gluten-free bread is far more expensive than traditional wheat bread, and buying a gluten-free pizza or gluten free muffins will also cost you more. Fortunately, many foods are naturally gluten-free, so there won’t be any change to prices there.
6. A Gluten-Free Diet Won’t Necessarily Help You Lose Weight
Some people start eating gluten free because they want to lose weight. Avoiding the empty calories in white bread, donuts and cookies can certainly help you lose weight. However, you can still eat more calories than you need from gluten-free items. Whether or not you’re gluten-free, you’ll still need to watch your calorie intake if you want to lose weight.
7. Getting Adequate Fiber on a Gluten-Free Diet Can be Tough
One of the negative side effects of gluten-free diet is that it can be tough to get in enough fiber. If you typically get your fiber from whole-grain cereals, pasta or bread, then you’ll need to find new sources of fiber that are gluten-free. Fortunately, there are plenty of great foods available that come naturally packed with fiber like beans and vegetables.
8. You’ll Always Need to be Prepared With Gluten Free Snacks
A lot of people report that the hardest part about being gluten-free is trying to find tasty snacks that don’t contain gluten. WOLO Gluten Free Protein Bars are a portable option that contains protein and comes in delicious flavors like the mint chocolate chip. You can also enjoy snacks like popcorn, vegetables, and hummus or fresh fruit.
9. Always Check for Gluten Free on Packaging
Foods you might think are gluten-free may contain sneakily hidden sources of gluten, so you’ll need to get in the habit of always checking the packaging. Most foods that come in a wrapper should specify that it doesn’t contain gluten. Gluten can find its way into foods like ketchup and soy sauce, so it is something you’ll always need to confirm before eating.
10. You’ll Need to Get Comfortable Speaking Up About Your Diet
If you decide to go gluten-free for any reason, you’ll need to be comfortable with telling people. If you eat in a restaurant or go to someone’s house for a meal, you’ll need to let them know about your dietary restrictions. Luckily, most people are happy to accommodate dietary allergies and provide you with a gluten-free meal that you’ll love.
Armed with this information, you’ll be ready to adopt a gluten-free way of eating. Whether for general health, a condition like celiac disease or because of an allergy, eating gluten-free can offer benefits to a lot of people.