Friday, August 24, 2012

Healthy Diet Tips: Should You Go Gluten-Free?


Gluten-free has been a diet buzzword for several years.  But what does it mean?  The gluten-free diet was specifically designed for people with celiac disease (an intolerance of wheat, rye and barley).  Celebs who can’t stomach wheat include Miley Cyrus and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.  Since wheat is in everything from bread and pasta to sauces and salad dressing, registered dietician Constance Brown-Riggs, advises that going gluten-free shouldn't be a trend or fad diet.

“It’s not a weight loss diet.  It’s not low in carbs, and many people have gained weight instead of losing weight on a gluten-free diet,” says Brown-Riggs.  “If you don’t have celiac disease, you may have sensitivity to gluten; but unless you’ve been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, you don’t have to avoid gluten.” 

Dr. Rhonda Medows, a chief medical officer and executive vice president for UnitedHealth, says that celiac disease is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  That's because the symptoms of celiac disease – which reportedly affects one out of every 133 Americans -- can be hard to decipher since they mimic a number of common ailments including abdominal pain, diarrhea, acid reflux, fatigue, sores on the mouth, joint pain and numbness. To determine if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, consult a medical doctor to get a blood test or biopsy.

“It’s a big deal to make that dietary change,” says Dr. Medows.  “[Celiac] is an auto-immune disorder that doesn’t go away. You have to deal with it forever.”

Even if you don’t have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, however, there are many delicious gluten-free snacks on the market you can incorporate into your diet that will curb cravings for salty, fatty chips.  Everything She Wants loves Mediterranean Snacks’ gluten-free Lentil Crackers in Rosemary Herb, Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt and the brand’s Baked Lentil Chips in Parmesan Garlic, Cucumber Dill and Roasted Garlic. And Crunchmaster oven-baked crackers made with whole grains come in a variety of yummy flavors.

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