Gluten Free or Sugar Full?
Written by Cat Blatner
We make a big mistake these days when it comes to food: we try to find short cuts by substituting real food and quality nutrition for tasty treats that claim to be “beneficial” for your health. It’s really sad, actually, and it’s too bad that industries will take trending terms such as “gluten free”, stamp it to their product, and suddenly its a “healthy choice”, knowing full well that just because its free of gluten doesn’t mean it is good for you! They bank on these terms, BIG TIME. Don’t get caught up in the trending terms, don’t forget to check the labels and DON’T believe everything you read on the front of those boxes!
First off, answer me two questions: what is gluten and why don’t you eat it? If you are choosing to purchase gluten free products, I hope that you can answer these questions. First, let’s talk about what gluten is. Gluten is a protein typically found in bread and wheat products that give them their elastic texture. Some people have gluten intolerance and get symptoms such as gas, a bloated feeling or stomach pain when they consume this protein. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, the amount of people who actually have this disease is about 1 in about 133 Americans. Now, I’m not saying you should eat gluten, but I am saying that maybe a little fact searching might be a priority before you start spending a boatload of money for a product that has stamped “gluten-free” on their labels.
Just because something is gluten free doesn’t immediately put it into a category of a nutritious and health promoting. A lot of food that is gluten free ends up being full of sugar to make up for the taste. Because guess what guys? SUGAR is gluten free! Yay, Right? Does that make sugar better for me to consume? The answer is absolutely not.
Look at these two nutrition labels:
The one on the left is from a gluten free cookie and the one on the right is a standard chips ahoy cookie. Now, tell me again how you are making a healthier option by eating that gluten free cookie? Aside from gluten, there really isn’t much of a difference between the two. You are going to consume just as much sugar, just as many calories, and just as few nutritious benefits when you are having the gluten free cookie as you would in the regular old chips ahoy version.
So be aware that gluten free doesn’t mean healthier for you. Because many of us do it – we hear a trending term and think “Well, I better not have gluten anymore!” I encourage you to do a bit more research, don’t always believe everything you see on a label and always remember that the best “gluten free options” aren’t going to come in a processed and packaged boxes. Gluten free pancakes are still pancakes, gluten free bread isn’t going to promote weight loss more so than regular bread does and a gluten free treat is going to be packed full of sugar just like a gluten full variety would be! So as you walk through the grocery aisle and try to find the most nutritious foods or best gluten free options, just beware, sugar is the enemy – AND it’s gluten free.
Celiac fast facts: http://www.celiaccentral.org/celiac-disease/facts-and-figures/