By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine
Gluten-free seems to be the diet du jour. We're getting SPAM about it; more and more packaged foods at the grocery store are stamped with the words gluten-free; and Elizabeth Hasslebeck's "G-Free Diet" book is in bookstore windows.
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But what is gluten, anyway? Well, it's the substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough.
To find out if going gluten-free is something the average woman should consider doing or if it's being totally overblown, we called Marjorie Nolan, RD, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
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"Lots of gluten-free products are marketed as health food, but many of them have a lot of calories," says Nolan. "When you take gluten out of food, it actually makes it more dense. So it's self-defeating if you're trying to lose weight. There's really no need to go gluten-free unless you're are diagnosed with a gluten intolerance or sensitivity."
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So, why is going gluten-free such a trend right now? Turns out, more people are being diagnosed with gluten intolerance because of the spike in awareness -- and the tests themselves have improved.
"And it's just being marketed really well," says Nolan. "But you might test positive for a very mild gluten sensitivity and have no symptoms -- such as bloating, gas or constipation -- at all. Is it worth changing your entire lifestyle for that? Probably not."
However, Nolan does suggest stealing a few healthy gluten-free staples for your diet, namely, lentils, sweet potatoes and quinoa. "And generally less processed cereals and breads, and more whole foods."
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"The important thing to remember is that there are a lot of changes you need to make if you want to lose weight and keep it off," says Nolan. "People want a magic bullet and that's just not going to happen."
Have you considered going gluten-free?
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