Are Gluten-Free Foods Better than Foods with Gluten?

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Hi Hungry Girl,

It seems like everywhere I turn, there's a gluten-free label. Are gluten-free foods better for me than foods with gluten?

Curious about Gluten

Are Gluten-Free Foods Better than Foods with Gluten?

Dear Curious,

I'm so glad you asked. Surveys have actually shown that many people choose gluten-free products because they think those items are healthy and good for weight loss… but that's not always the case! Gluten-free foods are not necessarily better for your diet than their gluten-containing counterparts (unless you’re sensitive to gluten, of course). Keep reading...

First, a little "gluten 101"… Gluten is the name for proteins found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye; it basically acts as a glue (hence its name) to hold food together. Most people can eat the protein without any problems, but about 1 percent of the population has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that makes it difficult to digest gluten. Others just find that they feel better when they avoid gluten.

Don't confuse gluten-free with carb-free. Some people mistakenly turn to gluten-free foods as a way to cut carbs, but here's the deal: When gluten is left out of a food product, it's often replaced with another starch. For example, wheat flour might be replaced with a gluten-free starch like rice or potato. And the same goes for your personal habits: If you rule out bread and pasta, you may reach for other starches that are just as high in carbs. 

Just because a food is gluten-free, that doesn't mean it's healthy or diet friendly. Gluten-free desserts, restaurant entrées, etc., can be loaded with calories, fat, sugar... even sketchy ingredients. Remember, these products are developed as solutions for people who can't digest gluten... not as weight-loss aids.

Bottom line? Gluten-free foods often have just as many carbs and calories as their gluten-containing counterparts. You have to read those nutrition panels and check those calorie counts.

But that doesn't mean there aren't some fantastic gluten-free finds out there! If you prefer foods sans gluten, check out the links below…

Happy chewing!


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Today, July 15th, is National Tapioca Pudding Day. Why not celebrate with Kozy Shack Simply Well Tapioca Pudding? Only 90 calories, and it just so happens to be gluten-free!

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