There’s No Need
The vast majority of people don’t need to go gluten free. That’s not to say some people could benefit from reducing the amount of gluten in their diet (especially white flour). For the majority of us, however, having gluten in our diet is perfectly healthy, and shouldn’t be the cause of any concern.
“Gluten Free” Has Become a Marketing Ploy
Ten years ago it would have been difficult to tell which products were and weren’t gluten free without looking at the ingredient label. That’s no longer the case. “Gluten Free” is now plastered across products in big, bold letters so there’s no doubt. This is because it’s an effective marketing ploy. The vast majority of these products haven’t changed the way they’re made. The manufacturers simply know the gluten free trend will encourage people to buy their product if labeled as such, and in many cases, even pay more for it. Think of it as the “fat free” label of 5 years ago.
Gluten Free Doesn’t Mean Healthier
There seems to be a huge misconception about a gluten free diet being healthy. Eating less grains such as wheat, rye and barley (the grains which contain gluten) can be healthier if your diet consists of over-eating these, but that’s completely different than claiming gluten free equals “healthy”. All gluten free tells a consumer is there isn’t any gluten in the product (or an extremely small amount). In fact, a gluten free product can be just as unhealthy for you as those containing gluten. Pure sugar is gluten free, but that doesn’t mean you should only eat pure sugar. Below is a good video explaining what gluten is and why gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy:
Gluten Free Doesn’t Mean Less Calories
Another misconception is gluten free products are healthier because they contain less calories. This is often not the case. In fact, they’ll usually contain a similar amount of calories because gluten substitutes like sorghum, corn and rice flour contain a similar number of calories as wheat flour.
As with most food consumption issues, it’s not a matter of elimination, but a matter of balance. If you believe you have a gluten intolerance, visit your doctor to confirm this, as it can be a serious food condition. If you don’t, be sure to consume gluten in moderation, but do your wallet a favor and don’t buy into the marketing campaigns which lead you to believe you shouldn’t consume any.
(Photo courtesy of Missy Ward)