Does it feel like every second person you meet is avoiding gluten or tirelessly telling you how much healthier and vibrant the ‘gluten free diet’ is? Contrary to popular belief, this is not always the truth. Culinary expert for The Food Crafters, Caroline Trickey shares what to avoid and choose when choosing gluten free.
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Going gluten free is not as easy as it may seem. And in fact, can be detrimental rather than beneficial to your health if not done correctly.
Most of us can easily digest gluten without any issue. Biologically, the only people that require a gluten based diet is those with medically diagnosed coeliac disease (an auto-immune condition which is activated when gluten is consumed). This impacts 1 in 70 Australians, where consumption of gluten can cause health problems, such as an increased risk of cancer.
Despite this, many people report feeling better when they avoid eating gluten. Often this is due to increasing their food variety. Unfortunately for many however, this simply means they will replace their gluten-containing foods with gluten-free packaged items. Swapping for the gluten free pasta, bread or biscuits without a glance at the ingredients list.
The majority of ‘gluten-free’ packaged goods contain a mix of highly refined rice and corn flours. Which are extremely low in fibre and very high GI. Meaning they are digested faster than sugar and will not fill you up. In fact, they can cause you to crave more and eat more – which can lead to weight gain.
These processed foods often include many different types of emulsifiers and stabilisers to enhance texture, flavour and improve shelf-life, listed in the ingredients list as names you don’t immediately recognise as food. In fact, gluten free processed food is often more heavily processed and filled with many more chemicals than gluten containing foods.
What to avoid when choosing gluten free
1. Check the ingredients list for:
Rice or corn flour, emulsifiers, stabilisers, complex scientific names or many numbers. And avoid or limit if included.
2. Foods that don’t list fibre in the nutrition information panel.
When there is very little fibre in a product, food producers will avoid including it – as it is not required by law!
What to choose when going gluten free
1. Baked goods that contain healthier ingredients such as buckwheat, coconut flour, almond meal and other ground nuts or seeds.
2. Check the nutrition information panel for fibre and choose products with at least 5 grams per 100 grams of fibre or more.
If you are eating a wide range of whole foods, that are naturally rich sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, your body can thrive and function more efficiently. This will make you feel better, more energetic and a lot more vibrant!