Figuring out what foods make your body feel best shouldn’t be a challenge, but recently this process has started to feel like a puzzle that’s only becoming harder to solve. It’s the great paradox of our time: boundless information at our fingertips, yet we have lost the ability to decipher what’s true. In a storm of a million different opinions where anyone can be a nutritional specialist and a new food trend emerges daily, how do you tune out all the extraneous noise and listen to your body? How do you ensure that you aren’t being swayed by fads, and that you’re actually nourishing yourself with what you need?
One of the clearest examples of this phenomenon is the rising popularity of a gluten free lifestyle. Previously, only those with a gluten allergy or an intolerance consumed gluten free foods. However, as the misconception that gluten is inherently unhealthy becomes widespread, many people who are perfectly capable of digesting gluten end up choosing gluten free options. Beyond that, foods that are naturally gluten free to begin with are being marketed with gluten free labels to further influence consumers. The result is a mess of contradictory information, misleading labels, and a lack of confidence over your nutrition.
Here at Basquet we want to clear the air, so we have created a comprehensive guide to separate fact from myth around all things gluten. If you’re looking for a resource to help you decide whether or not you should go gluten free then keep reading.
To start, let’s bring it back to the very basics. What even is gluten anyway? According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is a protein found in grains (so that’s wheat, barley, and rye) that gives certain foods their stretchy quality. It’s the binding glue that keeps food together so that when you knead the dough, make pasta, or toss a pizza crust, it doesn’t break apart. Examples of foods with gluten are bread, pasta, and cereal, but they can also be found in some unsuspecting items like certain condiments or snack foods.
Great, now that we’ve established what gluten is, let’s talk about who should adopt a gluten-free lifestyle and who should not. Mainly people who are recommended to be gluten-free are those with Celiac Disease or those with a Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (aka gluten intolerance). Otherwise, if you eliminate gluten from your diet when your body can properly digest it, you run the risk of missing out on some pretty important nutrients like whole grains, fibers, and micronutrients. Additionally, some foods with gluten also contain vitamins like B12, iron, and magnesium. A better approach if you fall into this category (which is the majority of people), is to simply eat healthier which means eliminating processed foods and adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
So let’s say that you happen to fall into the pool of people who are unable to digest gluten. There are two potential avenues: Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder, where consuming gluten results in intestinal damage. On the other hand, those that have a gluten intolerance experience Celiac-like symptoms, but they do not sustain intestinal damage upon consuming gluten. The top eight symptoms of gluten-related issues are bloating (one of the most common concerns), diarrhea and constipation, stomach pain, headache, fatigue, depression, brain fog, and joint pain. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, then the first step is to be tested for Celiac Disease via a blood test. If you test negative for Celiac Disease, then you may be experiencing gluten intolerance. In this scenario, your physician will likely place you on an elimination diet where you cut out all gluten. If your symptoms improve then it is likely that you have a gluten intolerance. A quick note on self-diagnosing: with the internet always within our reach, it can be so tempting to try to figure things out for ourselves, but the best way to achieve accurate results is to always consult a healthcare professional first!
Ok, so what happens now? Assuming that you have gone through this process, if you find yourself diagnosed with a gluten-related disorder, it’s time to think about how to adopt a healthy, gluten-free diet. Some foods that are already naturally gluten-free are whole grains like buckwheat, armaneth, corn, and flaxseed. All of these make for awesome substitutes in some of the foods that commonly have gluten like pasta, bread, and baked goods. When you’re looking at gluten-free labels, it’s so important to make sure that you’re selecting healthy options. One of the biggest misconceptions is that a gluten-free label is synonymous with health, but this is actually false! Many gluten-free foods can be highly processed, with high amounts of sodium, sugar, and fat. If you’re not careful you could actually end up doing your body harm in the process of going gluten-free. The most important thing is to look at gluten-free labels with simple ingredient lists, free of additives and processed ingredients. Here at Basquet we take so much pride in sourcing and curating an assortment of gluten free options that are delicious and that will make you feel good! Some of our favorites are Rummo’s Gluten Free Penne Rigate, Partake’s Classic Pancake & Waffle Mix, or Lil Bucks’ Chocolate Reishi Clusterbucks Granola. You can also shop all our gluten free products by using the Basquet filtering system and selecting gluten free or shop our gluten free bundle if you have a hard time choosing products!
We hope that this guide has made navigating all things gluten-free a little less confusing, and restored your confidence in your nutritional journey. Like the good friend that you can turn to no matter what, we are always here to help because ultimately the foods you eat are what lead to the happiest and healthiest you!
About the Author: Andreina Pardey.
Andreina is the lead blog contributor at Basquet. She is a storyteller at heart, passionate about understanding people and the things that connect them. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring new restaurants, listening to live music, or at her favorite bookstore. Connect with her on LinkedIn.