Don’t Go Gluten Free If You Don’t Have To

Nutrition // Samantha Charlton // 25 August 2014

Hey, discerning shopper! Did you just throw that gluten-free product into the trolley because you think it’s healthier – NOT because you’re actually gluten intolerance or coeliac?! Well, put it back, says Samantha Charlton. You shouldn’t go gluten free unless you really have to.

There are the hospital cases, the stabbing-pain cases, the on-the-toilet cases … for some these are the very real, very painful results of consuming gluten. Then there are those who CHOOSE to be gluten free.

But knowing how switched on I have to be and how much effort is needed to keep gluten out of my diet – and avoid suffering the debilitating symptoms – there’s NO WAY I’d choose this lifestyle if I didn’t have to.

What Does Gluten Free Mean?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, barley and oats, and often in other products to help bind foods together. But unless it seriously makes you sick, avoiding it can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Some gluten-free products also have higher GI, less fibre AND added sugars and fats to make them taste better, and many people starting strict gluten-free diets often gain weight because of the calorie density of these foods.

If you ARE intolerant of gluten, avoid it at all costs and skip packaged foods. Include a range of nutrients with vegies, fruit, lean sources of protein, dairy and low GI, gluten-free grains and legumes so you’re eating from all the food groups.

Why Gluten Was So Bad For Me

Before my gluten-free life, I was overwhelmed with body image issues and food options. I’d eat a sandwich, feel sick, binge on donuts, feel sick. It was a wicked cycle.

For 15 years I had chronic tonsillitis, living on antibiotics with no knowledge of probiotics, and taking afternoon naps as a teenager after school.

I got to a point where I couldn’t play anymore because I was simply too tired. So, at 23, it was time to do something about it.

Going Gluten Free Changed My Life

As a beer-drinking tomboy, when I discovered the proof of my intolerances, my world changed. The boys, their social habits and I grew further apart. I rebuilt my friendship group, my exercise regime and eating habits.

My body now had enough energy to run for the first time, so I trained for the Melbourne Half Marathon, completing the course in 2.13 hours and didn’t walk once.

I moved out of home and learnt to cook by slightly altering Mum’s recipes. I learnt what quinoa was and about raw and clean cooking – it’s provided me with great skills and control.

If you want to eat healthy and gluten free, it’s super hard to eat on the run – and there are plenty of other bumps in the road – but in the end, I’ve never been so happy.

Making The Lifestyle Change

It’s not about eating what’s cool, in fashion or following fads – it’s about eating what’s right for your body to help it function to the best of its ability.

Changing your dietary habits is a MAJOR lifestyle adjustment – it’s hard and you have to be strong-willed and persistent, and it’s a crazy to want to go through all that if you don’t have to. Find out more about Gluten-Free and Weight Loss here.

Think you may have coeliac disease or gluten intolerance? See your doctor or an Accredited Practising Dietitian for an accurate diagnosis.

When you sign up to 12WBT you get access to hundreds of gluten-free recipes AND our rockstar nutrition and exercise experts to help you stay on track.

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