Gluten-free and well-fed: When did G-free get
February 28th, 2011
05:45 PM ET
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Jennie Bragg is an Editorial Producer in CNN’s Money Unit. Previously - Gluten-free and well-fed: the sneaky stuff

Fashion week has come and gone here in New York, but with all the models, designers and wanna-be fashionistas roaming about town just a week ago, I got to thinking a bit about trends. Like shoulder pads and last season’s romper, diets tend to go in and out of style.

So what’s hot right now? You guessed it: the gluten-free diet.

Popularized by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the G-free diet is all the rage. Once a solution for those diagnosed, like me, with celiac disease, now 93% of gluten-free interested dieters have never been diagnosed with celiac, according to research by the Hartman Group, a consumer research group.

So if you don’t have a gluten allergy or intolerance, why are you eating gluten-free?

Maybe you have ADHD or migraines or another medical reason; there are dozens. Cutting out gluten has worked health wonders for lots of folks. But eating G-free is tough, and if you are on this diet to lose weight, you may have chosen the wrong path.

First, you have to consider the way you are eating. A gluten-free diet can be similar to many other diets if you do it right; it's high in protein, low-carb, lots of fruits and veggies. This all sounds very familiar. We have heard it from doctors, nutritionists, and weight-loss books for years. On the other hand, if you are simply planning to substitute gluten-packed foods with gluten-free foods, you may find the weight loss more challenging.

Many gluten-free products substitute wheat flour with ingredients unusually high in carbohydrates, like potato, rice or corn starch. This can often lead to a spike in blood sugar, and according to many medical professionals, you may end up packing on a few pounds, rather than losing them. (Fashion Week models, don’t try this at home.)

I did not go gluten free to lose weight - and believe me, I didn’t lose any. I was diagnosed with celiac disease and was trying to get healthy first and foremost, but I must say, the super-trendiness of this “diet” has worked in my favor. Thanks to millions of dieters testing the gluten-free waters, G-free products and G-free restaurants abound. While it may not be for everyone, I hope the gluten-free trend doesn’t go the way of the shoulder pad anytime soon. It is certainly working out for me.

Previously - Gluten defined, Celiac? To heck with that! and The sneaky stuff

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Filed under: Dietary Restrictions • Gluten-free

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soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. JD

    Could we get maybe some quotes from a scientist? The vast majority of people handle gluten just fine. The fact of the matter is it's a protein that affects a small minority with some gastric discomfort. Beyond that I haven't heard anything but hype and pseudoscience about the gluten-free diet. Maybe there is something to it, but the advocates for it (like this blogger–and all CNN contributors generally) are exceptionally ignorant of any sort of facts about gluten or the digestive system. I'd really like some statistics and data from a vetted source about WHY going gluten free is effective. The sort of garbage about eating toast and minutes later feeling pain all over is just silly. If this is read by anyone who legitimately knows what they're talking about, I'd like a link to a medical journal article or something that shows how gluten is actually bad for digestion, because to me this is MOSTLY hype (granted there are real allergies to gluten...), now propagated the cute little pieces in the media like this. Sorry if this sounded blunt, I just disdain dumb fads and want some facts.

    January 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
  2. RMPC

    I have to say this. I was in a lot of pain. Terrible migraines that lasted days, joint pain, back, neck and shoulder pain, and I was exhausted beyond belief!!!...I was so depressed from being so sick that I decided that my life was not worth living but I had to live because of my daughters.

    I exercised almost every day and I found some relief on it but it was not enough. One day that I woke up without the usual migraine I had a breakfast consisting in toasted whole wheat flour, milk and honey (south american breakfast). Less than 20 minutes later, I had a head splitting headache. That was my "Aha! " moment. I stopped eating anything with gluten and the relief came in a couple of days.

    Two months later, I feel really good.... But if I, by mistake, have something with gluten in it, I'm sick for a week, so I have to be very careful. I read every label, I bring my own food if I'm away from home and I have informed my friends and family about it.

    I had brainfog, so bad, some days I couldn't even think. I also have adult ADD. Since I am on a gluten free diet, the cloud was lifted and I am much more focus. I's been a blessing! My energy is back and I've lost some weight too because I am more conscious about what I eat.

    I am so happy now, living pain free, that I don't even miss bread. less

    April 14, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  3. Voice of Truth Project

    Thank you for your post! I am in agreement with you that I hope that the sudden boom in g-free is not a passing fad. I was diagnosised with Celiac in July 2006. It was so tough in the beginning, but now, with all of the products, and manufactures coming out with g-free food, life has been so much easier. I really hope that it doesn't go backwards.

    April 13, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  4. Christine

    Gluten-free is indeed on the rise and it is not necessary for most people who observe it. Celiac disease is a real thing and thank God that we now have a much wider variety of wheat substitutes and creative baking techniques to provide the things we consider staples like bread. However, as the article confirms, most people are jumping on this bandwagon, convinced by number of new age health advisors who would like you to think that the bread you eat is causing everyone immunological responses and the water you drink is not properly ph balanced or contains the wrong mix of minerals or that you are lacking in amino acids.... etc etc.

    I am so sick of some "experts' using a small % of the population to tell everyone else that this is bad. Gluten may or may not have its place– you have to decide for you. Don't blame all your health problems on it. There may be other livestyle modifications you should be making.

    March 26, 2011 at 3:32 am |
  5. GF8mos

    For the last 8 years I have been tested for everything, they thought I had lupus, I have a slow thyroid (take meds 7yrs now), they have put me on anti depressants (i'm not depressed), i've been diagnosed with IBS (since i was 8yrs old) I'm 45 now. Last year was the end of it, massive of tests, couldn't figure out why I couldn't digest anything, pain all the time, etc.
    If it wasn't for the little girl on the view talking about her Gluten symptoms I'd still be sick. I took myself off of Gluten, Thank god I can cook. I made my whole family go GF, since I was so going to figure out why I have been so sick. My husband don't know the difference. My youngest daughter started growing and has had no tummy aches since we went GF.
    I can't believe the difference in my health, I don't get sick anymore, I have no hives, pain, bloating, I feel wonderful. I do not eat any of the GF made products, we tried once to eat some bread, omg, sawdust. I just make my own when we have a hamburger. ITs not expensive, our food bill has actually gone down, time in the kitchen has increased about two hours a day, but I will not trade it for anything.
    When I told my doctor what I did, she said that's what? wheat stuff.. OMG.. case closed, sometimes doctors are only interested in a blood test not what the patient is telling them. I think I'd rather go to the mechanic that listens to the car, tunes it by ear and the machine, than the machine alone.
    To all of you that are trying to feel better GL, and to all of you that the tests actually came out positive GL also you had a better doctor than I did.

    March 5, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Christy

      I just wanted to say that I have had stomach problems for so long and headaches and always seem to be tired. Everything has been blamed on Fibromyalgia. Well I decided to try to eliminate one thing at a time to see if I could feel better. I had been hearing alot about problems associated with Wheat, which is funny because most diets I have been on ask you to try to eat whole wheat products as much as possible. I have not had any thing with wheat for 10 days and I could tell after only a couple of days how my stomach did not feel bloated and I seemed to have a steady level of energy. I do not feel it is a fad, to find something that you can change and feel so different is amazing. I just wanted to say thanks for your response. I would really like to find a bread recipe for my bread maker if you have any ideas that would be great for a newbe like me.

      January 16, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  6. Polyquats

    One reason we may be seeing an increase in sensitivity to gluten may be that there is a lot more of it in our food. Wheat particularly, has been bred for a high gluten content. It's what makes our modern breads so light in texture, and why we can make instant cakes. Grandma had to cream the butter and sugar and sift the flour three times to get a cake to rise. The bread she baked would be heavy by today's standards.
    And if that isn't enough, we extract the gluten from wheat and add it to almost every processed food. There are even 'foods' on the market that are almost pure gluten.
    It would be an interesting exercise to track the rise of gluten content of wheat and processed food against the increase in Celiac and other diseases.

    March 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
    • Cole

      Cake, the lightest and fluffiest of the popular baked goods use low gluten flour. Flour for cake, pastry, bread, pasta, pizza, etc. all have different gluten content, depending on the desired product. There are literally dozens of different flours out there.

      March 6, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  7. Sally

    I dont think they are trying to be sexy, I think they are being smart, gluten is a allergenic protein by nature, it is very hard to break down completely by the body so it is a natural sore thumb for the immune system.

    I think the author of this article is very confused despite being a celiac.

    It is called the gluten free diet because you dont eat gluten, thats it. It isnt a "diet" to lose weight, nobody said its purpose was to lose weight. I dont see anyone claiming that it is. Maybe it is possible someone would hear the word diet and assume, but that isnt what the author is saying.

    I have been gluten free for 4 years (before it became popular) and I have talked to a lot of people who are gluten free and of all the people I have run into nobody has ever said it was because they wanted to lose weight, they all mentioned sensitivity.

    The author of this article/Jennie mentions that 93% of people who are on gluten free have never been formally diagnosed by a doctor. ok. But then she goes on to say if you arent celiac or sensitive then why are you on a gluten free diet ? whoa, whoa, whoa there. I hope everyone caught this huge manipulation there. She says 93% arent diagnosed by a doctor, but then tries to say that if you arent diagnosed, you arent sensitive. Huh ?

    Just because you arent diagnosed, doesnt mean you dont have either celiac or gluten sensitivity. That is the most ridiculous assumption I have ever heard. But if you arent paying attention closely you will fall for her "con"

    Listen, there are alot of people sensitive so alot of people should probably be gluten free. So I am not saying people shouldnt get tested. But, in addition I would never recommend that someone rely on what the doctor or a test says. The tests are known to be inaccurate and can be wrong. So go to the doctor if you want, but just because the test says you are ok, doesnt mean you are. Here is how you protect yourself. So, if you are curious if you are sensitive, then dont eat gluten for a month, see how you feel, then go back on gluten, see how you feel. If you feel better off gluten, stay off gluten.

    March 2, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  8. Gluten Free Mike

    Having been diagnosed with Celiac going on nine years now I am still amazed at people who view a GF diet as a weight-loss option. I know that when I switched to GF after my diagnosis, I ballooned when I incorporated (often higher calorie/carb) GF replacements into my diet (and this was way before there was the plethora of options that now abound) - well, that and the fact that I was once again absorbing nutrients correctly for the first time in my life.

    I am all for people doing what they want in life but when it comes at the expense of diluting a serious condition is when I take issue. Believe me, if I could eat a normal piece of bread or pasta or doughnut for that matter I would. As a Celaic with multiple food allergies the ability to eat gluten would take one less worry off my proverbial plate :-).

    Gluten Free Mike

    March 2, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  9. Mercedes

    Have you tried our breads? Best in the market, we use only ingredients of the hieghest quality, no rice flour, GMO and of course GF. Not only our production faciliites are strictly gluten free but also our offices.

    March 2, 2011 at 10:25 am |
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