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Who Needs Gluten Anyway?

I get the question all the time, “So are you really gluten free?” This diet has become a new fad, one that more and more people are starting to follow, but why? Personally, I do not understand why anyone would choose to eat gluten free because, let’s face it, gluten is awesome. To answer the question, yes I am actually gluten free, and I hope this article helps those looking to make the transition.

So why would anyone choose to eat gluten free? First and foremost, people who have Celiac disease (a disease where the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, making it difficult to digest certain foods) need to completely exclude gluten from their diets. Secondly, there are the people like me who have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. When you have an intolerance or sensitivity, you have trouble digesting these foods as well and sometimes get allergic reaction-type symptoms, like itchy skin or even hives. Then there are the people who decide to go gluten free simply because it is healthier for them to do so. However, what you need to understand is that just because you eat foods that are labeled “gluten free” does not always mean you are eating healthy.

For those of you who are not aware of what gluten is, gluten is the mixture of proteins found in wheat and other grains. It is what gives elasticity to dough, allowing it to rise and giving the dough its chewy texture. Gluten is found in several food products that we eat on a daily basis and in many products we wouldn’t even think of. Some of these products include soya sauce, salad dressing, broth, soup, cold cuts, gravy, ice cream, and even some processed cheeses.

The list goes on, and for those making the transition to gluten free, it is essential for you to know about all the different foods and brands to avoid. Also, for those of you making the transition to gluten free because you think it is a healthy option, it is important to be aware that certain foods that are labeled “gluten free” are not always better for you. Many foods labeled “gluten free” such as bread, crackers, soup, and baking products do not actually provide you with a healthier alternative. Many of these foods contain higher levels of sodium, sugar, and fat so they taste like they aren’t gluten free. To make up for the lack of gluten in the product, other things must be added to ensure the food tastes somewhat edible. Therefore, for those of you choosing the gluten free diet to either lose weight or to just eat healthier, you should be including some of the following options into your diet: quinoa, rice, rice noodles, fruit, vegetables, yogurt, beans (not baked beans in a can, I mean black/white/kidney beans or lentils), fish, and other seafood.

It’s a good idea to start making things on your own or from scratch to ensure that your diet is actually gluten free. Making your own smoothies, salads, and soups is easy and only requires a few ingredients. Try to top your salads with vegetables, beans, nuts, and chicken; that way, it will keep you full longer and maybe you’ll even resemble that person from those salad commercials. 

Making your own soup is easy as well. Use a leftover chicken carcass along with some celery and carrots, then add water with a pinch of salt, and you’ve got your own chicken broth. This way, you can add whatever else you like to your soup such as rice/rice noodles, meatballs, and some extra vegetables to make it hearty and filling.

Making the transition to gluten free can be very challenging. However, it is important to know which aisles in the grocery store to avoid and how to read labels properly. It is easier nowadays to shop, as most grocery stores have gluten free labels on their foods, as well as gluten free sections. Personally, I have spent a lot of my time on Google, searching for gluten free brands and recipes, and I’ve discovered that there are many options out there. 

Although many of these foods may not taste as good as the real thing, there are still some great brands that make our lives a little less sad. A life without gluten does sound pretty awful and, I’m not going to lie, it is, but you can always make the best out of a bad situation. I do have to say though, if you don’t have an allergy and are able to consume gluten without wanting to stay in the fetal position all day, then continue to enjoy it. Of course, gluten isn’t the best for our bodies, but please enjoy it from time to time, for me and everyone else who really can’t. 

 

I hope this information helps you guys out, and good luck with your gluten free endeavors! 

Hey there, my name is Victoria, I am currently a fourth year Sociology student and a new member of the Her Campus team! I can't wait to start writing and to be a part of such an amazing publication!
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