Everywhere I go these days there seem to be more and more gluten-free options. Grocery stores are carrying more and more gluten-free options. Many restaurants now carry gluten-free options on their menu. There are even gluten-free beers now. All good news, right? Partially. As a gluten-free person, you’d think I’d be more excited about the increasing number of food choices I now have. I’m not.
Foods that contain gluten are unhealthy not just because of gluten. That is just one reason. They are almost always high in carbohydrates, which break down into sugars. Removing or replacing gluten does not negate the damage caused by sugar. So instead of viewing gluten-free pasta or bread as a God-send to improving health, I think they represent a class of foods people are seeking an excuse to eat.
That gluten-free bagel may not damage your gut, but it still has the power to spike your insulin and make you fat.
Gluten-Free Cupcakes: 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour is by Elana Amsterdam. I am in no way endorsing this book.
Sugar is still very much toxic.
Remember when the low-fat rage hit? The grocery store shelves were flooded with fat-free processed foods. People bought them and assumed they were now safe to eat. They weren’t. Not only was their fat thesis wrong, but they ignored the damage of sugar. I see this trend playing out again. People are now using the gluten-free label as an excuse to eat junk food. The damage caused by sugar is gradual and will surface eventually – with or without gluten.
Stop looking for less bad versions of bad food. There are no free passes. Just eat healthy food.
UPDATE June 2022: Crossed out two sentences that I no longer support.
Apr 25, 2011 — 3:06 pm
I remember the fat-free craze of the 80’s,
and how people would load up on fat free food, but they were really just loading up on the sugars and carbs that were used to replace the fat. And then they would do an insane amount of aerobics just to try and burn off all the extra glucose.
So now its gluten free…hmmm.
That beef broth recipe of yours looks good.
Apr 25, 2011 — 3:09 pm
@Sheila – Exactly. The fat-free cookie era is in decline, but the “insane amount of aerobics” just changed names: spin, Zumba, etc. 🙂
Apr 26, 2011 — 9:41 am
Clearly I am not an expert on diet, exercise and nutrition… except as a What Not To Do Poster child… but I do know some people who are gluten free because of allergies or other medical reasons. I think some of these products are a good thing for them–not to eat everyday (who eats cupcakes everyday? not even me!) but for those occasions when you want a treat (emphasis on the word occasion)
Your beef broth looks fantastic, but I don’t think it work well to stick a candle in it for your birthday.
Apr 26, 2011 — 10:36 am
@Jenn – I view all grains as not essential and mostly empty carbohydrates. Clearly gluten free is a better option, but in the end sugar is sugar. My philosophy is to remove the poisons, reach your goal and figure out what neolithic treats you can handle while still maintaining all your goals. I guess I view the GF labels as commercial distractions for the majority.