5 Reasons a Gluten-Free Diet May Not Have Worked for You
Following a gluten-free diet has, all of the sudden, become the thing to do. Celebrities are doing it, and maybe one of your friends just tried it and lost 7 pounds in one week. Seeing your friend's amazing results had you full of hope, and so you gave it a shot. But to your dismay, you didn't really see the same results. What's up with that?
Well, I'm glad you asked.
The Reasons Why a Gluten-Free Plan Didn't Result in the Weight Loss You Expected:
1. Gluten-free might not be for you
A gluten-free diet can work wonders, it's true, but it usually causes the most noticeable benefits for people with a sensitivity to gluten or an autoimmune condition like Celiac disease. Perhaps your friend who lost the 7 pounds has a gluten sensitivity, which means his or her body will react differently than yours - especially if you don't suffer from the same condition. Do a little more research before you jump into the hype, you can start with this article: The Truth Behind Gluten-Free.
2. Gluten-free is not the same as junk-free
I'm afraid that a gluten-free cookie is still a cookie. Which means that similar to any other regular cookie, a gluten-free cookie contains plenty of calories. Furthermore, it's mainly comprised of carbs and sugars. And yes, that includes the gluten-free cookies you might find at Whole Foods or your health store of choice. Make sure to always read the nutritional information of all the foods you buy, regardless of whether the words "gluten-free," "organic" or even "local" or "natural" are on a sticker or on the front of a package.
3. Gluten might not be the only enemy
A sensitivity to gluten increases the chances that you might also be sensitive to other foods you may turn to when on a gluten-free diet to try to replace gluten with; these other foods include sorghum, millet, tapioca, amaranth, quinoa, rice, hemp, corn and potatoes. These foods do not contain gluten, but may still cause a problem for you. Essentially, when your body creates antibodies against gluten, those same antibodies can also recognize similar proteins in other foods. When you eat those other foods, even though they don't contain gluten, your body reacts as though they do. This is called "gluten cross reactivity."
If this is something that you believe may be happening to you, consider trying a completely grain-free diet for 45 days, and utilize non-grain based starches such as sweet potato, pumpkin, squash and legumes. If you think you might have sensitivity to gluten, I would encourage you to consult with your doctor, who'll be able give you the tests to determine it.
4. Mood swings and cravings might destroy your resolve
Most people don't know this, but when we digest gluten, we produce a type of opioid that gives us a little "high" – think of that happy feeling after a bowl of pasta or piece of cake. By removing gluten from your diet, the "high" is gone, causing you to feel worse as you go through a withdrawal period. This can last for weeks for some people, and it can be pretty rough!
When people have this reaction, they not only feel pretty lousy at first, but their cravings for gluten also skyrocket. If these people somehow manage to stick to their gluten-free diet, due to these fierce cravings they can end up eating a lot of other carbs to satisfy the cravings causing weight loss to stall.
5. Gluten follows you wherever you go
Perhaps this sounds a little dramatic, but it is true. And the worst part is that you may be eating "hidden" gluten that you aren't even aware of.
Here's a List Some Lesser-Known Gluten Sources:
- The primary gluten-containing* grains: wheat, barley, spelt, kamut, rye, triticale
- Most processed cereal
- Bulgar wheat
- Alcohol made from grains: beer, whisky, vodka (unless purely potato), Scotch, most liquors and cheaper wines
- Artificial coloring and additives
- Chewing Gum
- Battered Foods (i.e. fish sticks, fried appetizers) and foods fried in same oil as battered foods (French fries)
- Any baked good made from flour, not specified as gluten-free
- Many juices and fruit drinks
- Sauces in general, horseradish sauce and most premade salad dressings (unless gluten-free)
- Canned meat containing preservatives, canned vegetables (unless in water only)
- Items containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein (often made with wheat)
- Caramel (other than from US and Canada)
- Imitation seafood (usually made with a starch, common in sushi)
- Instant hot drinks (coffee, tea, hot chocolate)
- Ketchup and most condiments (anything made with modified food starch has corn and/or wheat)
- Rice syrup (may contain barley malt)
- Soups (most commercially made canned or frozen soup)
- Spices including white pepper, curry powder, bouillon cubes or powder
- Soy sauce (except Tamari wheat free soy sauce) and most Chinese sauces
- Mustards (look for modified food starch on label)
- Veined cheeses (may be made from molds that may be of bread origin)
- Flavor enhancers including MSG (monosodium glutamate), glutamic acid, monopotassium glutamate, ammonium glutamate
*Note: Gluten-free grains include rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and teff.
Dr Brooke Kalanick, ND, MS, LAc is a naturopathic doctor and graduate of Bastyr University - the leader in natural medicine education, research and the training of holistically minded primary care providers. Dr Brooke specializes in PCOS and Hashimoto's hypothyroidism helping these fat loss resistant women feel, look and be better. Her knowledge of both conventional and alternative medicine helps her give patients back the control of their body, their hormones and their life. As a woman and mother who shares these struggles, she helps the women she works with live the adage: between perfect and giving up, there's better.