Celiac.com 04/03/2018 - A gluten-free diet is crucial to avoiding problems associated with celiac disease. However, many gluten-free foods come with drawbacks that are important to understand.
Also, not all gluten-free food is created equal, not all gluten-free foods are healthy, and simply going gluten-free may not resolve all of your issues. Here are some things to keep in mind about a gluten-free diet:
- Gluten-Free food is more expensive than food made with wheat flour. In fact, gluten-free substitutes are about twice as expensive as standard foods. They are more costly to make, and they sell in lower volume, which pushes up retail prices.
- Like many of their non-gluten-free counterparts, gluten-free foods can be highly processed. Processed foods can promote inflammation, which is one of the things that people with celiac disease are trying to avoid.
- Gluten-Free does not automatically mean nutritious. In fact, gluten-free food is generally less nutritious than similarly processed foods made with wheat flour. Foods that are naturally gluten-free will generally be healthier than gluten-free substitutes. That may seem obvious, but if you look at the gluten-free food aisle in your local store, you will see many highly processed foods that are not any better than their gluten-containing counterparts in terms of general nutrition. Gluten-free foods are often higher in carbohydrates and calories than their non-gluten-free counterparts.
- Gluten-Free food is higher in salt than its non-gluten-free counterparts. Recent products tests show that most gluten-free snacks tested are far saltier than their non-gluten-free alternatives. Of 106 products surveyed, researchers found that many gluten-free snacks have up to five times more salt than non-gluten-free counterparts.
- Gluten-Free food is higher in fat than its non-gluten-free counterparts.
- Gluten-Free food is higher in sugar than its non-gluten-free counterparts.
- Gluten-Free ingredients don’t always mean gluten-free food. The news is riddled with stories about gluten contamination in restaurants, pizza joints, etc., that claim to use gluten-free ingredients. Examples of companies that rolled out gluten-free pizza only to be met with complaints by people with celiac disease include: California Pizza Kitchen, Domino’s pizza, and Papa John’s, among others.
- The longer you avoid gluten, the more sensitive you may become. For many people with celiac disease, the longer they avoid gluten, the more sensitive they become. This can mean stronger, more lengthy reactions to seemingly minor gluten ingestion, so be careful.
- A gluten-free diet will not reverse osteoporosis, or iron and calcium deficiency. If your celiac disease progressed for a long time before your diagnosis, then the odds are much more likely that you have suffered from osteoporosis, iron and calcium deficiency. A gluten-free diet alone will not reverse osteoporosis, or calcium deficiency. In such cases, you will need to consult your doctor for proper treatment. Osteoporosis is especially problematic in women with celiac disease.