If you follow any nutrition or health blogs nowadays you may notice a lot of gluten-free recipes (mine included). You may be wondering if gluten-free is a healthy option? Should you be eating gluten-free? Is gluten the new food trend that we all have to avoid? In short, absolutely not. But some people do need to avoid gluten for various reasons.
Food Sensitivities and Individualized Diets
You may notice that most of my recipes are gluten-free. They are also mostly dairy-free. And if you look closer you will see they are mostly egg-free and I don't cook with garlic. Is that because gluten, dairy, and eggs are unhealthy? Nope. It's because years ago I was tested for food sensitivities and these were the foods that popped up.
Why was I tested for food sensitivities? One reason was because I had started working with food sensitivity patients and I was just plain curious to see if I had any. But the main reason was because I needed healing. I had suffered from IBS-like symptoms since I was a little girl and while they weren't severe, I never knew when they would pop up. I was tired of slugging Pepto Bismol and popping Tums, so I got tested.
My results showed that I was sensitive to gluten, dairy, eggs and garlic. While it was a bit discouraging, I quickly got to work discovering new products and recipes. It definitely took some adjustments but as I saw results I was motivated to continue the quest to find delicious and nourishing foods - sans gluten, dairy and eggs (and yes, even garlic). What results were I seeing? Well, my stomach definitely cleared up, but I started noticing other things. For one, my daily afternoon headache disappeared. And the terrible eczema that would break out my hands every few years never made a reappearance.
Should you be eating gluten-free?
Back to my original question - is gluten-free healthy? I'll answer that the way I answer most nutrition questions: it depends. If you are indeed sensitive to it or have celiac disease, then yes, gluten-free is absolutely necessary for your nourishment. If you aren't sensitive to gluten then I suggest leaving it in your diet.
Here's the thing, there are a lot of great naturally gluten-free foods out there (quinoa, millet, fruits, veggies, nuts etc) but there are also processed gluten-free items that are just plain junk. Do I sometimes eat that junk? If I feel like it, yes. But for the most part I stick to what makes me feel nourished and satisfied.
Bottom line, just because a product is labeled (marketed) as gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free or whatever-free does not make it a superior food. In fact, many of these foods will neither nourish nor satisfy. As I like to point out, nourishment is not one-size-fits-all. Your body has different needs and you need to eat according to that.
When food sensitivity testing is a good idea
Now you may be wondering if you should be tested for food sensitivities. The reality is that some people's bodies have lost tolerance to specific foods and that results in health symptoms. Some common clues to whether or not you have food sensitivities include:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Joint Pain/Fibromyalgia
- Skin eruptions/eczema
- Autoimmune conditions
If these conditions are a part of your life and you haven't found a solution yet, food may be playing a role. One of my favorite parts of nutrition counseling is walking people through their food sensitivities to find relief and healing. Many people comment that these diet changes are life-changing.
My approach to nutrition counseling
When I meet one-on-one with a client, I do a full history to make sure the client is a good candidate for food sensitivity testing. Sometimes, you just need adjustments to your eating style and we can work through that. Other times, testing is the best fit.
Regardless of the issue, I would love to work with you to find the right eating style for your unique situation. Contact me with any questions or to schedule an initial consultation!