Bread is often the most feared food group in the American diet.
Why? Those carbs seem impossible to avoid, and once you realize you can’t avoid them, they seem impossible to work off.
Some of us might not even be unable to properly digest a loaf of sourdough — and we might not even know it.
Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are two illnesses that render the body incapable of properly breaking down and digesting gluten, a protein found in wheat.
According to the site Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of these diseases include diarrhea, abdominal pain and trouble absorbing nutrients.
Sometimes symptoms are not this extreme, simply manifesting as intense bloating and expansion of the stomach.
Usually these symptoms go away when a person with the disease embarks on a strict gluten-free diet, which is not an easy task.
Some, however, choose to voluntarily embark on this dietary change to make their carb consumption less daunting and reap the weight-loss benefits of getting rid of gluten.
A gluten-free diet has to be free of wheat, barley, rye and any derivatives of those grains.
Gluten is not only found in breads, cookies and cakes. It is also used to thicken soups and prevent yogurt from rotting quickly.
The gluten-free diet is becoming a trend even among those who do not suffer from a specific disease that calls for this restraint.
With so much attention on eliminating carbs, dieters find a gluten-free diet beneficial for losing weight, even if they do not suffer from a gluten-related disease.
Having realized this, chain restaurants such as the Olive Garden have altered their menus to include gluten-free foods.
Of course, any diet trend catches on when celebrities tout it.
The latest celebrity to announce support for the gluten-free diet is the oh-so-fit Queen of Pop, Madonna.
In celebration of her 52nd birthday last year, Madonna served gluten-free brownies at her party.
If this is one of Madge’s tricks for keeping in shape, those looking for some pound-shedding tips might want to adopt the diet.
So if taking the gluten-free challenge sounds appealing for non-disease-related reasons, there are many ways to approach it — and it might even be simpler than you think.
You can adopt a minimalistic version of the diet, simply replacing the breads you normally eat with gluten-free types.
Gluten-free English muffins taste exactly like the normal brands, although sandwich-type breads might taste spongier than regular bread.
Once you start eating the gluten-free breads, however, it won’t be long before you and your stomach realize they are easier to digest, which can help to lose weight or ameliorate a problematic digestive system.
Ralph’s and Vons often offer these special types of breads, but everything needed for a gluten-free diet can always be found at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Mother’s Market.
Putting an emphasis on brown rice and vegetables is another easy way to go gluten-free.
Even though some brown rice does contain gluten, the widely available Lundberg Whole Grain Brown Rice doesn’t, and has the added benefit of being delicious.
The best and healthiest meal you can make is brown rice, cooked veggies and a little soy sauce.
Add some spicy Sriracha sauce and you’ve just made yourself a low-fat, gluten-free, dairy-free, healthy meal.
It’s easy to digest; the brown rice only has 1.5 grams of fat per serving and the chili peppers from the Sriracha can help speed up your metabolism.
Education and awareness are the most important reasons for embarking on a new method of eating like the gluten-free diet.
Researching what has gluten in it and what doesn’t will make your endeavors much easier.
Additionally, the majority of packaged food labels specify whether products contain gluten or not.
If the product doesn’t, buy it and see what you think.
If it does, see if there are alternative options. In our starchy world, it’s worth a try.