There have always been food fads that large masses of people subscribe to for short periods of time until they find it too difficult to maintain a strict “diet” especially when the reasons for following that diet do not apply to them. First there was the Zone and South Beach diets – where carbs became taboo. Speaking for most trainers, we hated these fads as our clients would be passed out on the floor from hypoglycemia during our workouts because they didn’t have enough carbs. Making matters worse was that most of these people were not even close to obese and therefore, the idea of cutting out carbs wasn’t as necessary as someone who needs to jump start their metabolism after years of eating massive quantities of processed carbs.
Currently the big rage in nutritional avoidance food is GLUTEN. Nine out of ten restaurants now include a Gluten-Free Menu. Even more interesting is all the products in the grocery store that put the words “gluten free” on foods that you normally would not worry about, like tater tots. Come on people, the potato is by nature gluten free!
Gluten is the proteins found in all wheat products, rye, barley, etc. Anything you make bread or pasta from, and any time you use flours as a binding base. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. While foods like potatoes do not inherently have gluten in them, depending upon how they’re processed and if there is gluten contamination from other items in the kitchen they can have gluten in their presentation. But does that mean you have to avoid them?
The reason gluten-intolerance is on the rise is because of a few factors. First, our wheat and other gluten substances have changed over the years due to the genetic modification of seeds, said forced changes leaving our bodies less able to process the final product. Second, our portion quantities have dramatically increased while our food quality has decreased. Give those factors a couple of generations and the result is more people having digestive and autoimmune issues.
Here’s what really bothers me – a large majority of us do NOT have food allergies, autoimmune disorders, or digestive issues so we do not need to avoid gluten (same applies if you have no lactose issues, then you can keep eating non-fat organic dairy products). If there is no reason for you to avoid eating something you enjoy, then why do it? Moderation, as always is the key.
Before you yell at the computer screen that gluten is bad for every body, understand this. Too much of anything is bad for you, so if you eat pounds of pasta daily then okay maybe you should lighten your gluten and glycemic index load. But if you follow a reasonably healthy nutrition plan, and are not obese or diagnosed gluten-intolerant by a doctor, then you can eat just about anything, again in moderation.
The real problem is that if you stop eating any one thing altogether (in this instance gluten foods) just because everyone thinks it’s the key to health and fat loss, when you finally succumb to that great smelling fresh baked sourdough bread with a touch of butter on it (my weakness), your gut will reject it and you’ll be in pain hours! All because you followed a trend that didn’t apply to you.