The Ones You Didn’t Know
By Sarah Jones
Gluten-free diets are all the rage. The proportions of the American population who follow a gluten-free diet have tripled between 2009 and 2014, despite not having any indications of celiac disease, according to the American Medical Association.
Celiac disease can be devastating, and a gluten-free diet is an essential measure to combat this condition. However, the question remains why so many others’ have chosen to go carb free?
Gluten is a protein found in plant foods such as wheat, barley, and rye that can cause a wide variety of ailments in those with Celiac disease, including severe stomach pains, lead to the formation of ulcers, permanently impact the linings of the intestines and may result in anemia.
Especially troubling is the prevalence of this disease has greatly risen from 50 years ago.
Furthermore, there are many benefits to going gluten free including losing a whole host of undesirable issues for people who don’t have Celiac disease but may have gluten intolerance. The symptoms typically associated with gluten intolerance include severe headaches, stomach pains, bloating, excessive flatulence, constipation, diarrhea, loss of feeling in your joints, skin rashes, acne and low concentration capacities.
Interestingly enough, the ingestion of wheat has been very strongly linked to the formation of eczema, and to the prevalence of sinus allergies, stomach pains and eye conditions, such as dryness. A reaction to wheat that leads to eczema can be caused by both an intolerance to wheat and by an allergy, as both affect the autoimmune system, which in turn affects the skin.
One of the first things that most people remark on when cutting out the gluten from the diets is the high amount of fruits and vegetables they have added to increase their fiber intake and, thereby, also increasing their subsequent stores of vitamins and minerals in their daily diets as well. It also leads to a much stronger immune system, helping you to fend off the cold and other seasonal bugs that may try and take you down during the year.
The second and probably one of the most lauded benefits is how much easier it is to lose weight without all of the common gluten-containing products on your plate. This weight loss can also be associated with an increase in vegetables and other complex carbohydrates over naturally refined carbohydrates that are typically eaten before going on a gluten-free diet.
A further benefit is that bloating will be significantly reduced, as well as constipation which is always a bonus. Also, the high levels of vigor and vitality people experience from this lifestyle is almost unanimous. It may be because when you eat gluten with other foods, the ability of your body to digest the other foods nutrients is impaired and therefore, you have far lower levels of the necessary nutrients entering your bloodstream.
If you are considering trying out this way of eating, you will most certainly not be alone. It is estimated that 22% of the global population are choosing to eat gluten free for either personal choice or because of allergies and intolerances. And the vast majority of these consumers seem to be between the ages of 25-34 or 50-64. However, age is just a number, and you really should do whatever you feel is best for you.
Tips to Stay Gluten Free While Travelling
For those of you who are not allowed to eat gluten due to your intolerance, but would still love to experience the tastes that travelling the globe has to offer, we have a few tips in mind that will keep your diet gluten-free.
- Know what’s on the menu
- Don’t ask the waiter or server if the food is gluten-free. Some will say it is gluten-free, when in fact, it may have a huge percentage of it in the meal itself. There is a small amount that can be tolerated, but it is best to know what the ingredients of the delicacy are before ordering. You may ask that of the server, but you’re better off Googling the dish before ordering.
- Live in a place with a kitchen
- It may feel tedious, but you can still enjoy local food offerings by cooking using local ingredients. Choose ones that are gluten-free. By now, you know which ones those are. If you must add an unknown ingredient, do your research first before adding it to your meal.
- Find the nearest vegetarian or vegan restaurant
- Most vegan and vegetarian restaurants nowadays serve gluten-free food because of the high demand. If you are in a place that has caught up with the GF trend, you may find a place or two that can cater to your dietary needs.
- Bring your own food
- Just don’t bring fruits or vegetables. You may bring packs of food in boxes; however, they will be checked and verified by airport authorities. Most airports do now allow fruits and vegetables to be brought in from other countries because of its risk to the ecosystem. That is why you are better off bringing pre-packaged gluten-free food if necessary – and it has to be checked in.
- Customize your meal
- Go to a reputable restaurant in the area that allows for customization of food based on allergies and dietary needs. They may be more expensive than local restaurants, but it is worth it if you do not have any adverse reactions. Reputable restaurants follow rules to the tee because they want to keep their reputation intact.
A final tip: Don’t be demanding about it. Request, ask, be polite. Your food may be gluten-free, but it won’t be spit-free if you’re demanding and irate while asking for your diet to be accommodated. And it helps to be friendly when you’re in a different place, right?
Choosing to eat in a way that will uplift your energy, mood, cognitive and physical function, while helping you to lose weight seems like a rather simple way to engage in with your whole self. So, the only thing left to ask is, are you going to be gluten free, too?
Many thanks to Sarah Jones for sharing facts you should know about gluten. Sarah writes for Simmer and Zest, and “cooks, slices, and dices,” to be sure she stays healthy. More importantly, Sarah shares what she knows so others can enjoy cooking as well!