Eating Gluten Free Isn’t Always Healthy

After even a short stroll through the grocery store, no one could blame you for thinking that everyone should be on a gluten-free diet.

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In fact, gluten-free foods are critically important for people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease. For them, the surge in gluten-free foods is a boon, even if some are gluten-free versions of cookies, cakes, and other junk food.

But millions of others avoid gluten (a protein in wheat, barley, and rye) because they think it might help them lose weight or have less GI distress, or because, as the woman in a New Yorker cartoon explained to a friend, “I have no idea what gluten is, either, but I’m avoiding it, just to be safe.”

For them, gluten-free junk is, well, junk. Take Udi’s Gluten Free Moist & Tasty Cinnamon Rolls. They’re basically tapioca starch, brown rice flour, oil, and sugar—about seven teaspoons of sugar in each 300-calorie iced roll.

Whole Foods has an entire line of Gluten Free Bakehouse sweets. A single one of its Almond Scones has enough rice flour, butter, heavy cream, sugar, and other ingredients to supply 390 calories and 12 grams (half a day’s worth) of saturated fat.

Then there’s Glutino, which sells gluten-free Toaster Pastries (think Pop-Tarts), Chocolate Vanilla Creme Cookies, Baked Potato Crisps, and Pretzels (including some coated with “yogurt” or “chocolate,” which means they’re essentially coated with sugar and palm kernel oil). Most are basically corn starch, tapioca starch, white rice flour, and potato starch.

Think you’ll lose weight eating gems like those? Don’t count on it.

Glutino Cookies Udi's Cinnamon Rolls Enjoy Life Cocoa Loco Simply Cheetos Puffs


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8 Replies to “Eating Gluten Free Isn’t Always Healthy”

  1. Good article. I’ve been gluten free for 8 years and am happy to see there are finally some decent tasting breads and treats out there but they are indeed still treats and not meant to be a regular part of one’s diet. But I’m glad they’re there.

    Folks who think a gluten free diet will help them lose weight when their body has no issue with gluten are making a big mistake – gluten free foods typically have more fat and calories than the gluten counterparts as this article makes clear.

    I do take issue with one statement in this article- many people w/o celiac benefit from a gluten free diet. I had unexplained autoimmune activity in my body (verified by several years of blood work) which was wrecking havoc on me for years (including years of infertility) and going off gluten was the best decision I’ve made as within 3 days going off of it I felt like a new person – although it did take a good year for my body to be healed enough to make it through a pregnancy. Many people I’ve met have found going off gluten will relieve lifelong health issues including migraines. So I do advocate folks figuring out if they are OK w/ gluten and by all means if they are OK, eat it! But if it makes you sick or triggers other disorders stay off it – beats taking medication. Saying only celiac’s can benefit from a gluten free diet is very wrong.

  2. We all need to stop our crazy fetish for sweets & junk food. Gluten-free examples used in this article are almost all desserts with high glucose carbs, which are equally as bad in similar wheat products. How about not trying to replace “pop tarts”, cake, cookies etc. with non-gluten imitators and replace with fruits instead? Better yet, retrain ourselves to stop craving sweets & sugary/fat foods.

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