I still remember the late March day when I learned I couldn’t eat regular wheat pasta, cookies, pizza, or even Twizzlers. It honestly felt surreal, like my gluten intolerance would go away in a few weeks. On that day, I was with my friend after diving practice when her mother had come over to tell me she had lost 12 pounds in 3 weeks on the “gluten-free diet.” Naturally, I thought to myself: great! I might lose some weight doing this. However, I did not realize for almost a year and a half that I would be losing necessary nutrients thatmy body needs to properly function. So today, I am setting the record straight for every collegiette who needs to know the pros and cons of being on that “gluten-free diet.”
1. You tend to stay away from many processed foods. Because we cannot eat those chicken fingers, we tend to go towards a sandwich with GF bread or a salad. This leads to better eating habits.
2. Going GF can actually help you lose weight. Taking gluten out of your diet has also proven to improve everyday health–such as relieving migraines and improving acid reflux.
3. Going along with improved health, according to www.glutenfree-diet.org, living GF can put you at less risk for anemia, type 2 diabetes, and because you tend to eat healthier foods you are at less risk for obesity and heart attacks.
4. You learn to expand your “grain knowledge.” Instead of focusing on the wheat in breads and pastas, you begin to discover less refined carbs such as quinoa or rice flours.
1. As I said earlier, one major con is that your body loses nutrients such a as folates, and you have to start taking dietary vitamins daily or your body cannot digest the foods properly. I use Omnium which helped my body tremendously. Two other nutrients you will need are iron and fiber, which will probably have to be taken through a dietary supplement as well.
2. The cost alone to be GF is outrageous. Instead of $2.00 for a loaf of bread, it can shoot up to almost $7.50 a loaf. When I go the Gambier Deli, whenever I want anything GF they always add an extra $0.75 onto my tab, which adds up over time
3. Not everyone loses weight when they go on the GF diet. It is possible that when your body becomes familiar with your new food changes, that your body takes up nutrients the way they are supposed to. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you are living gluten-free just to lose weight, know that you could gain some instead. Each body is different.
4. Finally, contamination of gluten is quite possibly one of the easiest things to do when you are at a restaurant. Gluten is in sauces, dressings, and other hidden meal items. Without asking the chef or the waiter yourself, you cannot tell just from looking at “white wine cream sauce” that it’s gluten free. Therefore, it can be difficult to stay truly GF if you aren’t looking out for it.
5. People believe that GF products have lower caloric values. However, do not be fooled. A GF cupcake can range from 600-700 calories while a regular cupcake ranges from 150-300.
Honestly, if you don’t have a gluten intolerance or you are not a Celiac, I would not suggest going gluten free. As someone who can’t pick up that slice of pepperoni pizza, I am just letting you know that it can be more difficult adjusting to this lifestyle than you may think. Over time, being gluten free becomes easier with new types of flours and GF-friendly restaurants. But who would want to turn down those double chocolate chip cookies? Moreover, if you are choosing to be GF, then make sure your body continues to get the nutrients it needs in order to digest food properly.