Is a gluten-free diet right for you?

January 14, 2014 | written by Susan Thanavaro | Get Fit, Get Mindful

Lady Gaga did it. So did Chelsea Clinton, Scarlett Johansson and Al Roker. Adopting a gluten-free diet seems to be attracting all stripes and interests. Perhaps you have friends dabbling with the diet and have even considered cutting gluten yourself? Before kicking pasta, bread and grains to the curb, it’s a good idea to take a closer look to determine if the diet is truly the best option for you. ┬áHere are three big reasons to hit the pause button.

You’re trying to lose weight.
Sure, gluten-free eaters tend to be slim but that’s not because gluten is fattening. It’s the sugar and addictive nature of wheat products that largely contributes to weight gain. In fact, research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shows that gluten-free eating can lead to weight gain because many gluten-free products contain more added fats and sugars than their gluten-containing counterparts.

You think gluten-free foods are healthier.
Gluten free foods are often void of essential nutrients. Many companies rely on rice flour and potato starch to achieve familiar textures in gluten-free products, but these ingredients lack the essential vitamins found in grains such as: B Vitamins, Iron, Calcium, Fiber, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, and Folate. To truly make gluten-free healthy, rely on whole foods for most of your meals and ditch packaged, convenience foods.
You’re not sure of the difference between an intolerance and an allergy
While 30 percent of the American population may believe they have a food allergy, less than 5 percent actually do. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association frequent misdiagnoses are rampant. With a food allergy, your body thinks a certain food is actually a harmful substance and releases antibodies to fight it. Symptoms may include: rashes, hives, shortness of breath, swelling of airways and itchy skin.

While food intolerances may make someone miserable, actual food allergies are much more severe and possibly life threatening. Determining if you fall anywhere on the spectrum will be important in helping you determine what foods are and aren’t O.K. Visit your practitioner to take an allergy test to determine if gluten is truly a risk for you.