A gluten-free diet is generally used to treat Celiac disease (a disease in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty in digesting food,) but is also often utilised for the other health benefits by people who do not suffer from Celiac disease.
People with weight loss goals, those aiming to improve physical performance, reduce fatigue or rid an awful bloated stomach, may just choose to go gluten-free to see if it will enhance their overall health and fitness levels.
What Is a Gluten-Free Diet?
As the name suggests, a gluten-free diet is a diet which contains no gluten.
Gluten is described as a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, such as barley and rye.
Switching to gluten-free diet can be tough at first, and with most diets, takes some getting used to.
However – don’t panic!
There are plenty of gluten-free alternatives around that will benefit you in the long run!
What to Avoid On A Gluten-Free Diet?
In addition to barley and rye (malt and malt flavourings are usually made using barley,) wheat is a huge no-go zone for those living a gluten-free lifestyle, often causing fatigue, headaches, sluggishness etc.
Wheat is present in a significant amount of ‘common products’ across the food industry and can come under several names:
– Durum flour
– Graham flour
These foods should also be avoided unless they are labelled as being gluten-free:
✗ Crackers and Cookies
✗ Reformed meat
Remember, this list isn’t extensive, and food will always have a list of allergens highlighted in bold – just ensure to check the nutritional content of you food to be on the safe side! There are also gluten-free versions of these products!
What Can I Eat On A Gluten-Free Diet?
The list of ‘banned’ foods may seem extortionate, however there are a lot of foods you can eat, including:
✓ Beans, seeds and nuts
✓ Meats, fish and poultry
✓ Most dairy produce
There are also several grains and starches which can be a part of a gluten-free diet, just ensure to check the label for ingredients such as corn, flax, quinoa or rice.
Benefits of a Gluten-Free Diet
The gluten free foods you will be replacing regular food with are full of antioxidants and vitamins, helping you to live a healthier life.
✓ Losing weight is easier, since you’re cutting out a lot of the processed carbohydrates you would have previously been consuming.
✓ Your body may be able to digest your food more easily; therefore you will be less susceptible to stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea etc.
✓ More energy throughout the day.
✓ Helps aid the symptoms of Celiac disease.
Disadvantages of A Gluten-Free Diet
✗ It can be tough finding gluten-free food replacements.
✗ Going gluten-free can mean you are not eating some of your favourite foods (which may not be a problem if you’re trying to cut down anyway!)
✗ There is not black and white list of good and bad foods, it depends on the variety, so always read the label.
Gluten-Free Lifestyle Tips
1) Enjoy the gluten-free substitutes which you may not have tried otherwise – and ensure you try different things so you don’t get bored of the same bland foods.
2) Read the food labels when you go shopping, to ensure that you are picking foods which are gluten-free. All foods will have a list of allergens which can easily be located within the ingredients.
3) Be aware of cross contamination. Wash kitchen surfaces; use different utensils etc. to ensure your gluten free foods don’t get contaminated by normal, gluten-rich foods.
4) Experiment with your food, using some of the delicious recipes found here on The Zone.
Take Home Message
A gluten-free diet is perfect for those with Celiac disease, as it relieves the irritating symptoms which you may suffer. It can also be a great, healthy diet for someone who isn’t a sufferer to follow too – try it out as it may work for some and not others… everyone is different!
It may be a good idea to consult your doctor/a dietician at first as it may not be necessary for you to remove gluten products out of your diet.
Trying to choose the right diet for you?
See other types of diet plans!