Christina’s Healthy Crusade: I really knead some gluten
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Just like one of my favorite talk show hosts, Oprah Winfrey, I love bread! I love bread, pasta, and cookies, but all of these foods have one controversial ingredient in common: gluten.
According to Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is “a general name for the proteins found in wheat…Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.” The majority of people who follow gluten-free diets are those with celiac disease, which causes severe gluten intolerance.
However, people going gluten-free without any medical reason has become one of the most popular diet trends in the country. Grocery stores and restaurants nationwide have increased the number of gluten-free foods they offer to meet the demand. Because of this, I decided to investigate what the hype is about and jump on the gluten-free train for a few days.
One of the greatest challenges of eating gluten-free was figuring out what I could and couldn’t eat. While it’s safe to say that all wheat products aren’t safe, there are other food products to be watchful of such as seasonings, ice cream, and processed deli meats. Thankfully, since I don’t actually have any medical issues with gluten, I didn’t have to look too carefully at non-wheat products for gluten, however people with celiac disease must pay attention to everything they eat.
The simplest way to stay gluten-free is to completely cut out anything with wheat from your diet. I often opted for salads and meats for lunches to steer clear of any gluten. Although I didn’t notice a difference in the amount of energy I had, I missed being able to just eat a sandwich.
At least there are a lot of options available at local grocery stores that are gluten-free versions of foods that usually contain wheat. For instance, one night I replaced my regular spaghetti for pasta made from chickpeas. Unfortunately, the texture and taste of the fake pasta was unusual and somewhat gross. The next night, I had better luck with a burrito I made from a gluten-free tortilla, and I honestly couldn’t taste the difference from a normal one.
Going gluten-free for a short amount of time wasn’t too bad, but I can’t imagine how people follow this diet, especially without any medical reason. Although following this diet may become easier over time, without much proof of health benefits, and without any gluten-related medical reasons, following this trend doesn’t make much sense to me.
Christina Giovanazi is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.