Is going gluten-free all it’s cracked up to be?

If you suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the short answer is yes.

And that still holds true for those with a definitive diagnosis of celiac. But research out of Monash University in Australia called into question whether non-celiac gluten sensitivity even exists (Gluten Sensitivity and Study Replication).

In 2011, an experiment at Monash was instrumental in coining the term “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” as a way to describe the gastrointestinal distress experienced after eating gluten-containing foods in people without celiac disease.

This recent study cycled self-identified gluten-sensitive participants through high, low and no-gluten diets. In the end, ALL of the diets triggered some level of discomfort, regardless of whether the diet contained gluten or not, leaving the researchers to postulate that gluten may not be the culprit in the participant’s GI discomfort.

Interesting, you say, but what does this have to do with weight loss?

First, let’s be clear. True celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder. It must be managed for life with a gluten-free diet consisting mostly of naturally gluten-free whole foods including fruits, vegetables, dried beans, nuts, seeds, dairy, fish, and lean meats; the same healthy diet recommendations made for those without celiac.

The gluten-free “craze” however, leads consumers to believe that eliminating gluten-containing foods or eating (expensive) “gluten-free” products results in weight loss (read any popular celebrity magazine/blog. . .you’ll see what I mean).

For example, according to independent research firm Mintel, 27% of Americans specifically choose gluten-free foods as a way to help them lose weight.

For those struggling with eating disorders, citing a gluten allergy or intolerance is viewed as a valid way to skip meals (where non-gluten items aren’t available), or eliminate certain foods from the diet altogether – behaviors that fuel the eating disorder.

I’m all about helping people nutritionally manage medical conditions; it’s what I love to do. But at the end of the day, here’s the honest truth.

There is no magic food, pill or potion that will help you lose weight and keep it off, including a gluten-free diet.


Debunking Myths of Gluten-free Eating