Four in 10 Australian shoppers are purchasing and consuming food free of wheat and other grains, thereby sticking to a gluten-free diet, finds new study conducted by Coles.
These shoppers revealed that they were buying gluten-free products because it made them feel better about themselves, and only 20 per cent of them consumed these foods due to a strict dietary requirement and medical issues.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. Basically it makes all the yummy foods out there taste even more yummy. Gluten is responsible for making bread more spongy and it’s also used to thicken soups and pasta sauces.
Gluten intolerance, known as celiac disease in medical terms, affects at least 1 in 100 Australians whose immune system reacts abnormally to gluten. If consumed by someone who is intolerant, they might suffer from weight loss, bowel and indigestion problems and malabsorption of vitamins. If left untreated, the auto immune response may lead to complications in fertility and osteoporosis.
Gluten-Free Diet Myths
There is a big difference in being diagnosed with celiac disease and being gluten sensitive. The latter will show similar symptoms such as stomach cramps, indigestion, bloating and constipation, however, gluten sensitivity doesn’t damage the small intestine like celiac does. While these four in 10 Aussies are buying gluten-free foods, they don’t realise that more than majority of them don’t need to consume this food group. It’s very important to get tested for celiac disease and see if you’re medically required to go on a gluten-free diet.
Here are some of the myths involved with a gluten-free diet:
- It’ll help me lose weight - Even though a coworker or a celebrity may have shed some visible kilos after cutting gluten from their diet, doesn’t mean going ‘gluten-free’ equals weight loss. The weight loss is generally a result of not consuming high G.I. food such as refined carbs, pastas, biscuits and bread. When going gluten-free, you may cut a big food group from your diet that is high in calories, but you are still replacing that with rice and corn (celiac-friendly food group). Keeping that in mind, remember that gluten-free food is still high in carbohydrates, and if not monitored, you can still gain weight from it.
- I can binge on all gluten-free junk food - Just because a piece of brownie at the cafe or a packet of cookies in the health food aisle says “gluten-free”, doesn’t mean it’s healthy and/or good for you. Due to popularity, there are a lot more gluten-free treat and snack options available in the market, but majority of them are still high in sugar and saturated fats. Do this test – if you pick up a packet of crackers for a snack and it’s labelled ‘gluten-free’, read the label to see if it’s got white or brown rice in it. If it’s white rice, means it’s a refined gluten-free grain a.k.a. put it back on the shelf.
- If on a gluten-free diet, I can still eat spelt - Sorry to break it to you, but spelt is wheat’s cousin. It very much does the same damage to the body as does wheat and other refined grains; the only difference being that spelt is an ancient grain. If you suffer from celiac disease or even gluten sensitivity, your immune system would have the same reaction to spelt, as it would to wheat and other gluten food groups.
What do you think about the gluten-free food trend? Do you buy gluten-free food?