I got inspired to write this post after seeing the tidal wave of cheers for a new Dominos Gluten Free pizza. While it is not a safe choice for people with severe gluten intolerance’s (they were produced in the same space as traditional gluten pizzas) I think it is wonderful mainstream food manufacturers are acknowledging the public’s growing desire for gluten free products in the marketplace, but I don’t feel it takes away from any of our responsibility as consumers to READ LABELS.
At a glance its easy to see the overwhelming amount of gluten free products that have flooded the marketplace. This now booming market initially developed to cater to a small group of individuals suffering from Celiacs. Now “Gluten Free” serves a large portion of the population besides those with celiacs; whether it be individuals looking to eat cleaner, adopt a healthier lifestyle or for a large portion of Americans way to lose weight. All of our desires to adopt a gluten free lifestyle are valid and wonderful reasons, however it is important to be aware how to differentiate between what is good for you and what is bad.
Not all gluten free products are created equal, and while manufacturers may be aware of this, not all consumers are. As consumers we need to have an active roll in our food choices. Just because a product is without gluten does not necessarily mean it is good for you, or that it will help you achieve your health goals. To give an example; I once worked with a strict Vegan that would eat a bag of potato chips and soda every day for lunch. On paper, yes, he’s Vegan. Was he avoiding all animal products? Yes. Was he healthy? No. It’s the same paradigm for us gluten free eaters. Reading labels is crucial, the ingredients on the back of the package are even more important than the Gluten Free labeling on the front that peaked your attention in the first place. Knowing this, we stand at a bit of a conundrum; What’s good for us and whats bad?
Distinguishing the good from the bad largely depends on your individual goals and needs. In general however, products with lots of fillers, hydrogenation, preservatives, excess sugar, and added junk are not the best for anyone. The longer the products shelf life, the shorter it will make your shelf life. Products with fewer ingredients and more importantly clean ingredients are better for you.
If weight loss is your goal, it is important to look at the carbohydrate and sugar content. If the Gluten Free bread you are eating has just as much sugar and carbs (or more) than the conventional bread you used to eat, you are no closer to your goals, and possibly further away than when you started. Be thoughtful of everything you put in your body, don’t let someone else’s marketing team do it for you.
Read your labels. Products with clean and quality ingredients will energize and enliven you. Processed and refined foods take you in the opposite direction. If you are looking to maintain a healthy long term gluten free lifestyle it is important you are not dependent solely upon packaged foods. Try to break away from the flour substitutes, try a lettuce wrapped burger or a cauliflower crust pizza, get creative with fresh local ingredients. And yes, you can treat yourself the occasional late night Gluten Free Dominos Pizza…. once in a while. 😉