Every year, more people are developing Celiac disease or non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. Although there is no solid reason as to why this increase occurs, the Mayo Clinic conducted research that led the doctors involved to believe that the overprocessing of grains causes this problem. According to Food Renegade, a decade ago, about one in 2,500 people in the world had a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Nowadays, about one in 133 people have the same problem. Gluten is the protein found in grains like rye, barley and wheat and can cause major digestive problems for those with either the disease or the sensitivity. Typically, instead of rye, barley and wheat, gluten-free foods contain grains like rice, corn or quinoa to avoid triggering a bad response.


Here are a few common myths related to gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivities that should be straightened out:


  1. A gluten-free diet can help me gain more energy.

Not necessarily. Before I was diagnosed as gluten intolerant, I felt awful. I had no idea why I was always feeling sick and had little motivation or energy to do anything. Yes, I found myself to be more energetic after eliminating gluten from my diet, but that’s only because I was finally feeling like my normal self again.


  1. Going gluten-free will help me lose weight and eat healthier.

Again, this isn’t a guarantee. Yes, you are technically eating less carbohydrates because you aren’t eating wheat products, but gluten-free foods are just made of different carbohydrate substitutes. Just because someone can’t eat gluten doesn’t mean they can’t eat ice cream or gluten-free cakes for dessert. If you’re looking to lose weight, work on exercising more and only go gluten-free if instructed to by a doctor. Same goes for eating healthier; it’s better to work on fitting in more green vegetables and healthier grains into your diet instead of taking out all the gluten.


  1. Foods without gluten taste like cardboard.

This one has some truth to it. Years ago, gluten-free foods were nowhere near as good as they are now due to improvements in food processing and the discovery of more alternatives to traditional gluten-free grains. I can’t do the taste test to compare, but I have forced my family to eat both and even my pickiest siblings can’t tell the difference. They even say some of the foods, particularly the pretzels and pastas, are even better than their gluten counterparts.


  1. Going gluten-free is impossible, there are almost no foods available.

Sure, that might have been true years ago, but not anymore. Just about every conceivable food has a gluten-free counterpart. There’s gluten-free versions of common brand cereals, cakes, croutons, chicken nuggets — the list goes on and on. You can find these foods in almost any grocery store if you know what stores to look in and what aisles to look down. My personal favorite bread brand is Glutino, which also has good crackers and pretzels. Trader Joe’s is also a great place to go when you’re looking for gluten-free foods. The handy list they keep on their website of all the gluten-free options they have has saved my life more than once.


  1. It’s impossible to go out to eat and find foods that don’t have gluten in them.

False. All restaurants are trained in allergen awareness, and almost all of them have a gluten free menu available upon request. Sure, this does mean eating salads sometimes, but a plain piece of grilled chicken and some potatoes is always a safe choice. Restaurants will also go to great lengths to avoid cross-contamination the same way they do with people who have nut allergies, which is always a plus.

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--Sophomore | Vine Editor -- Nursing : Irish Studies

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