Gluten-free diet benefits average eater, and can be simple to adopt

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.

The munchies · Even if you do not suffer from a gluten-related illness, adapting to a gluten-free diet can help you reach your weight loss goals. - John McGillen | Daily Trojan

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.

6 replies
  1. Julie D.
    Julie D. says:

    If students (or parents) want to check this out…; great way to learn more, if you are GF or are around someone GF !

  2. jelebelle
    jelebelle says:

    I agree completely with patrojan’s comments. I am a current USC graduate student and suffer from Celiac myself. Over the years, I have found that one of the most difficult challenges in maintaining my diet is dealing with restaurant servers and chefs who refuse to believe that “just a little bit” of wheat, such as the thickener in a sauce, can be a problem.

    Having been diagnosed in 1997, when gluten free diners had far fewer options than they have today, I have already dealt with the unintended consequences of Atkins dieters claiming they are allergic to carbs and then stealing a bite of bread from their friends’ plates. This type of behavior sends a message to restaurants that can lead to significant suffering for someone like myself who will react to french fries (which are often gluten free) because they have been fried in the same oil used for a gluten containing food. My dad is too sensitive to spend more than 20 minutes in a pizza shop where the flour in the air gets accidentally swallowed and causes a reaction.

    In addition, promoting a restaurant like the Olive Garden, which has only recently released a gluten free menu and has been the source of many horror stories from gluten free diners receiving sauces or pilafs that make them ill, instead of chains like Outback Steakhouse or PF Chang’s, which have been serving a wide selection of gluten free foods for many years also shows a startling lack of insight into the true gluten free community.

    Reading an article that encourages more people to adopt a “gluten free diet” while simultaneously recommending soy sauce is incredibly frustrating. Maybe the author should have recommended a “reduced gluten diet” or done a bit more research into the challenges that are actually faced by those who follow gluten free diets by necessity rather than by choice.


  3. Gluten sensitive Trojan
    Gluten sensitive Trojan says:

    Another error in the article was the omission of the varying types of celiacs. Some with celiacs must also avoid cow’s dairy, which is not easy to do, and adopt rice milk, or goat’s milk. They tend to be much pricier, but any consumption of cow’s dairy in cheeses, etc., will make the consumer quite ill. You can find this all out by doing some basic Google research, or even picking up literature from dieticians, immunologists, GI doctors, and dare I say, the library ?

  4. patrojan
    patrojan says:

    As a USC alumna with Celiac Disease, I think this article is relatively irresponsible.

    There is absolutely no proof that a gluten-free diet can assist with weight-loss. Often times, the substitutive grains have more calories than gluten containing grains. If a person does exhibit weight loss while on a gluten-free diet, it is generally because that individual has simply eliminate cookies, cake, licorice, highly processed foods, etc. A gluten-free brownie has the exact same or even more calories than its gluten-filled cousin.

    Also, I would like to point out a huge error in your article – soy sauce contains gluten. There are only three ingredients in traditional soy sauce – water, soy and wheat.

    The gluten-free fad that is being picked up as the “diet-of-the-moment” has many downfalls to it, and sadly this article is one of them.

    Cindy Erwin
    ’93 and ’96

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