Is a gluten-free diet really healthier?

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Studies have shown that gluten-free junk foods are actually unhealthy. Instead of eating gluten, you’re consuming processed foods that contain tons of sugar, unhealthy oils and refined grains. (Jason Meredith/Flickr Creative Commons)

Studies have shown that gluten-free junk foods are actually unhealthy. Instead of eating gluten, you’re consuming processed foods that contain tons of sugar, unhealthy oils and refined grains. (Jason Meredith/Flickr Creative Commons)

Many people think that gluten is some sort of devil food and that eating it causes weight gain and other health issues. It can in those who are intolerant or allergic to it, but it might not be such a bad thing for those who don’t have an intolerance to it.

Like most foods, eating gluten in moderation is actually fine. Obviously, if you’re intolerant or allergic and your doctor tells you to steer clear of it, then follow those orders. But studies have shown that gluten-free junk foods are actually unhealthy. Instead of eating gluten, you’re consuming processed foods that contain tons of sugar, unhealthy oils and refined grains. If you can’t consume gluten, these might be your only options, and when eaten in moderation, they probably won’t do much harm.

It is a common myth that anything gluten free is healthier, causing more people to reach for gluten free snacks rather than their usual selections. The solution to finding gluten free snacks is to simply look for those that are naturally gluten-free. Trail mix is a great snack that can be both sweet and salty, so it can satisfy both cravings. Other options could be fruit, vegetables with hummus or popcorn. Personally, popcorn is one of my go-to snacks because it satisfies a chip craving, but is low in calories and not bad for you. Popcorn contains a lot of fiber, which helps our digestive systems. I’d advise to stay away from microwave popcorn, because it contains a lot of butter, salt and preservatives. Go for Skinny Pop or Boom Chicka Pop. These brands come pre-popped in a bag and only contain about 35 calories per cup. They are also made with a healthy amount of sea salt and barely buttered.

Quinoa and other grains are also great options for natural gluten-free snacking. You can create whole naturally gluten free meals that still taste good and keep you full. Instead of snacking on processed gluten-free snacks, go for the snacks that originally never contained any gluten in the first place. And if you’re not intolerant or allergic to gluten, choosing those gluten free pretzels in the grocery store probably won’t do anything much for you. Listen to your body and enjoy everything in moderation.


Tessa Pawlik is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at tessa.pawlik@uconn.edu.

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