Gluten free diet can cause weight gain, but only if done improperly. This article looks at why, and what to do about it.
A gluten-free diet does not automatically mean a healthy diet, unfortunately. As time goes on, your unhealthy gluten free options become more, not less. However, you still have plenty of healthy options to choose from. Healthy choices are obviously better for you and help you to maintain a healthy weight, where as many unhealthy choices can lead to weight gain.
One of the biggest reasons that the gluten free diet can lead to weight gain is due to the many choices of manufactured gluten-free foods. There was a time when a gluten-free diet mean that you had to make your own food, and it was actually much easier to make healthy food than unhealthy food.
With many prepared foods locked out of your diet, it was back to basics: meat, fish, vegetables. As long as you didn’t eat too much rice or potatoes, your gluten-free diet could support a healthy weight. Meanwhile, people started to figure out how to produce half-decent gluten-free baking. That wasn’t necessarily a problem, since you had to make it from scratch, so probably you were limiting your intake based on how much you felt like baking and how much time you had to cook.
But manufacturers have caught up with the gluten-free fad. Most people eating gluten-free do not need to, but they want to, fueling a pretty big industry which has gone totally main-stream. Now you can eat calorie-packed, nutrient-deficient convenience food with the rest of them, it just costs more.
Gluten free baking often has more calories, more sugar and more sodium than already overly sweet and calorie-jacked commercial baking. This is not universally true, but is often the case. I’ve certainly found that some GF bakeries, even small ones, make sickly-sweet food that is more candy than baking in my opinion, and I don’t much like it, but many others do or such places would be out of business.
Part of the problem, especially for those new to the gluten free diet, is the problem of what to eat. Suddenly it seems like you can’t eat anything anymore, certainly not the majority of foods you are used to. This may not necessarily be true, but it feels like it. It becomes very easy to live on gluten-free cookies and muffins until we figure out how to eat a more sensible diet, assuming we get to that point.
The solution is the same as for those on a regular diet: view deserts and convenience foods as treats and occasional stop-gaps to get out of the odd difficult food crisis, and eat sensibly the rest of the time. Easier said than done. But I should talk: I can eat just about anything and not gain a pound.
What is your experience with your gluten free diet and weight gain? Have you gained weight after starting your GF and then found a way to get it off? Is this still an on-going problem? Any tips to share? Please leave a comment.