Let’s face it, there’s a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to what food we should and shouldn’t be eating. And it’s hard not to be confused with the constantly changing messages of “what’s healthy” coming from so many different directions (even the government often changes their minds on what’s good and bad!). But one of the latest food trends – Gluten Free – which is not just a trend but a serious health issue for many, is starting to be viewed as “healthy for everyone.” And that couldn’t be further from the truth!
It’s amazing how often I hear someone say, “Oh that’s a healthy place to eat because they have gluten-free options now.” In fact, this newspaper article below is a perfect example of how people think this is true! Let’s get real, I highly doubt anything Lance crackers is making is truly “healthy” for us. Because, in my world healthy = not highly processed.
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Just for fun though I looked up what they’re now offering …and here is one of those so-called “healthy” gluten-free snacks for you. I don’t think so! Rice flour is just as refined as white flour (which you would find labeled as “wheat flour” without the word “whole”), and just check out how many other unwanted additives this product contains including refined vegetable oil, maltodextrin, sugar, corn syrup, cellulose gum, and more!
What Gluten-Free Really Means
Gluten is the general name for the proteins in wheat (and some other grains) that helps hold the food together like glue. While some companies may profit from telling you their gluten-free product is “better for you,” what it probably means is they simply started using a grain other than wheat. It doesn’t automatically mean the gluten-free version is BETTER …it’s just DIFFERENT! And that’s because it doesn’t necessarily mean their gluten-free grain is whole grain (i.e. not any more nutritious for you than the refined wheat they were previously using).
Now as I mentioned this could mean a world of difference when it comes to the health of someone with celiac disease or an allergy (or sensitivity) to gluten, but for the rest of us? It doesn’t make much of a difference at all.
How to Choose GOOD Gluten-Free Products
Now all of this doesn’t mean gluten-free is “bad” either. Again, it’s just different! So whether you choose to buy gluten-free products or not my advice is always the same – LOOK FOR WHOLE GRAINS. Maybe you feel better when you avoid gluten or you’re just in the mood for more variety? No matter the reason, when you’re shopping for products made with any type of grains (containing gluten or not) the optimal choice is 100% whole grain.
Depending on your needs, here’s what to look for on the ingredient label…
Common Whole Grains WITHOUT Gluten = Brown Rice, Oats*, Corn, Quinoa
*if labeled gluten-free due to possible cross-contamination
Common Whole Grains WITH Gluten = Wheat (including Durum, Semolina, and Spelt), Rye, Barley
How do you feel about gluten?