There are many reasons people choose to go gluten-free. Autoimmune diseases, mental health conditions and the Autism Spectrum all have a plethora of scientific research supporting the use of a gluten & dairy-free diet.
Having said that, there are also many people who choose to remove gluten simply to improve their overall health, and often as a strategy to lose weight. However, if not done correctly, a gluten-free diet can actually cause weight gain, rather than an improvement in your health, including your waistline.
Here are five reasons why you may be struggling to lose weight since going gluten-free.
1. Just because it’s in the health food aisle, doesn’t mean it’s a health food!
Ah. The health food aisle. The source of my discontent. Just ask my family! They love nothing more than walking down the health food aisle of our local supermarket, watching my blood boil as I see row after row of junk food, disguised as “health food” because it’s gluten-free!
Just because it’s in the health food aisle, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
Likewise, just because it’s gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s healthy!
Many gluten-free foods are made from high glycaemic rice and tapioca flour, they’re laden with inflammatory hydrogenated oils, and they’re packed to the brim with artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.
“Regular” cakes and cookies aren’t good for the waistline, and neither are gluten-free ones!
2. Gluten-free breads and pastas are high GI
One of the biggest missed opportunities I see when people go gluten-free, is to make really great changes in the way they eat.
Rather than taking it as an opportunity to overhaul their eating habits, and make some healthy changes, they simply swap out their old nutrient-devoid foods for new gluten-free nutrient-devoid foods, particularly bread and pasta.
The Western diet has a strange love affair with wheat – particularly bread, and to a lesser extent, pasta. Yes, it’s a cheap filler, but that’s just it – it’s a cheap filler. Cheap in price, but cheap in quality. Bread and pasta are essentially empty carbohydrates with very little nutritional content. Infact, the vast majority of health claims made regarding bread, are only because of the synthetic vitamins and minerals that have been added during production because the inherent nutritional value is so low!
Instead of pasta, try zucchini noodles. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals, are fun to make, and much better for your waistline!
Rather than a chicken and salad sandwich for lunch, ditch the bread and have chicken and salad! You’ll be saving dollars and pounds!
3. You’re over-compensating
A lot of people go through somewhat of a grieving process when they go gluten-free – for the lifestyle they have lost, and all of their comfort foods that they can no longer enjoy. As a result, it can be easy to compensate with a treat here and there to make you feel a bit better, so that you don’t feel like you’re missing out all the time. Food is after all, a pleasurable experience that can provide comfort. It’s essential though to make sure that you’re not leaning on it as a crutch and relying on too many “treats” to help you make the transition.
4. You may be insulin-resistant
Many people remove gluten from their diet because of health conditions such as hypothyroidism or PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). These conditions in particular, tend to go hand in hand with weight gain, What is often overlooked however, is that there is very often underlying insulin resistance which is contributing to the weight control issues. It is imperative to regulate your blood sugars and improve your insulin resistance in order to lose weight. Simply removing gluten on its own is not enough. I highly recommend consulting with a qualified Nutritional Medicine Practitioner or Naturopath if this is the case.
5. You’re opting for low-fat substitutes
Eating low-fat should make you low-fat right?
Low-fat foods are generally highly processed, inflammatory foods that can contribute to weight gain, particularly as they are often high in sugar to compensate for the lost flavour due to the fat removal.
For example, a single serve of Vaalia Low Fat French Vanilla Yoghurt contains 14.9g sugar, while a Dixie Cup of vanilla icecream has 10.7g of sugar. So the icecream has over 2 teaspoons of sugar per serve, the low fat yoghurt has 3! When you put it in the context of 3 teaspoons of sugar in a cup of tea, you can see that the low fat option can in fact be contributing to your weight gain (not that I’m recommending you have a dixie cup of icecream for breakfast either!)
So there you have it. While I sing the praises of a gluten-free diet for so many people living with myriad health complaints, it really is essential that you go about it the right way, under the advice of a qualified nutrition expert. If you don’t, then yes, a gluten-free diet can in fact be detrimental to your health and your waistline.
If you are about to go gluten-free and feel completely overwhelmed, or you’ve tried, but just can’t seem to manage to pull it all together, pop your details in the box below. I’m opening my 6 weeks to gluten & dairy-free course in just a couple of weeks, and I’ll be sure you’re the first to know when it’s available.
I’ve got all the tips, techniques and sneaky ideas to make the transition safe, healthy, stress-free, affordable and tasty (no cardboard flavoured gluten-free products I promise!!!)