When I first went gluten and dairy free, I did what most people do, I looked for all of the substitutes for bread, cake, cookies, brownies and pasta.  That was nearly two decades ago when there weren’t that many choices.  Pamela’s Cookies were about the only thing around and you can bet that I ate them as much as I could.

The major difference between recipes and products from then and now is the nutrition and quality has gone further and further down.  Many of the gluten free substitutes are not only unhealthy; they stand to create other disease states that negate the reason we go gluten free in the first place . . . for our health.

Back in the early nineties, most gluten free recipes and products used whole flours like brown rice, garbanzo bean, quinoa, corn, millet, and almond meal.  These were whole flours made from whole grains by small companies who cared more about health and quality than the bottom line.  This brings me to reason number one:

Reason 1:

Starchy “Flours”:  To make breads, cakes and cookies taste more like the real thing; flours with no nutritional value are used.  Tapioca starch, potato starch and corn starch are just that . . .starch! There is no nutritive value to them and they convert to sugars in the body.  Long term use of starchy gluten free breads and desserts can lead to conditions like diabetes.  The US is already leading the world in the largest diabetic population.  Let’s not add to it.

Reason 2:

Genetically Modified Ingredients:  For over two decades, farm sciences have been splicing the DNA of one species with that of another in a process called genetic modification.  They have crossed fish with tomatoes, Roundup herbicide with soybeans, and bacteria with peanuts to create super crops to “feed the world” with.  These GMO foods were NOT tested.  Large manufacturers that are jumping on the gluten free band wagon are using these cheaply priced ingredients for mass production and you, the consumer are the lab experiment.  Over the last 20 years, disease and allergies have been on the rise – especially among those crops that have been genetically modified – soy, corn, wheat, peanuts and even rice.

Reason 3:

Overconsumption:   Many consumers who have gone gluten free as a result of allergies, Celiac disease, intolerance or just plain wanting to feel better have replaced their old habits of too much bread, too many cookies, cakes and pizzas with gluten free options.  While there are some incredibly delicious and hard to believe options out there, if your body has been compromised by gluten, it will need time to heal.  Gluten free items, by and large may not help if the quality is low, the grains are not whole and the sugar content is high.  You do not want to slow the body’s ability to heal itself with low quality, over processed, sugary items to try to have a diet as close to what made you sick in the first place.  This practice can lead to weight gain, sugar spikes and diabetes.

What to Do:

  1. Eat whole organic grains.  They won’t be genetically modified if they are certified organic.  They also will not be over processed, stripping them of their nutritional value.  Grains like millet, quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat are all gluten free, delicious, nutritious and easy to prepare.
  2. Limit your bread intake.  If you do purchase gluten free breads, rotate the type of bread.  Try whole grain millet bread, china black rice bread and the popular tasty type.  Keep these in your freezer and use them in rotation only a few times a week.  You do not have to eat bread every day.  Try rotating the whole grains mentioned above with breads.
  3. Stay away from major mainstream brands that are gluten free.  If you must use them, use them in moderation and think of them as junk foods.  We will all eat junk food from time to time but it’s never a good idea to eat it every day.

The key to health is balancing as much as possible.  Moderation in all things is a great idea.  The one thing you can increase with excellent health benefit is organic vegetables – especially green leafy veggies.  You can’t have too many of those but you do want to make certain you are getting protein with them.  And, let’s be realistic, we will all splurge along the way.  Just let’s not do it every day!