Do you even gluten-free?
These days going gluten-free is like a prerequisite to healthy-eating.
So what’s all the fuss? Are there benefits of a GF diet, even if you don’t necessarily experience problems with gluten?
Grab your GF donuts and hang tight.
This article will take you through everything you need to know about the pros of a gluten-free diet.
Table of Contents:
- Get Down With the GF Get-Down: What Is It?
- The Real Q: Why Does Gluten Affect Some People?
- Gluten Conditions Edition: 9 Health Benefits of a GF Diet
- Reduces Those Splitting Headaches
- Boosts Your Bone Health: Strong Skeleton FTW!
- Clears Up Your Stressed Skin
- Alleviates Those Annoyingly Achy Joints
- Say Bye to Bloat! ...And Other Unpleasant Symptoms
- Elevates Energy Levels
- Eases Your Mind: It’s Not All In Your Head!
- Lessen Frustrating Hair Loss
- Lowers the Risk of More Autoimmune Troubles
- Top 2 Debut: GF Benefits For Those Without Celiac
- Life-Changing Tips You Need to Stick to a GF Diet
- 20 Go-To GF Recipes to Keep in Your Back Pocket
Get Down With the GF Get-Down: What Is It?
A GF diet exclusively avoids gluten and its derivatives. Since gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye, you have to avoid foods like bread, cereal, pasta, and beer.
Why the wheat would anyone want to remove some of the most delicious foods on the planet?
It’s funny– 7 years ago, anyone would’ve looked at that “GF” symbol on the menu and questioned its existence.
Now, the diet has picked up enough traction in the trend world for people to start trying it, as nearly 3.1 million Americans are GF!
But back to the original question:
Some of the population realized they had severe reactions to consuming gluten, so they started creating GF products. Eventually, everyone else picked up on going GF (whether they had gluten problems or not), and the diet was born.
Here are symptoms you might be experiencing if you have gluten troubles:
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Skin rashes and itching
- Joint pain and inflammation
- Digestive issues, like bloating, constipation, and stomach pain
- Anxiety or depression
The Real Q: Why Does Gluten Affect Some People?
Even though there’s lots of debate over whether removing gluten is healthy for everyone, there’s one thing we all know.
If you have gluten problems, a GF diet is non-negotiable.
From celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and gluten ataxia to wheat allergies, all of these disorders contribute to issues like digestive upset and fatigue.
But once you cut gluten out of your system, the results can be pretty incredible.
However, there’s also growing research that people with other autoimmune disorders can benefit from a GF diet.
For instance, if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), fibromyalgia, arthritis, or an autoimmune thyroid disease, you could see the perks of cutting out gluten, too!
Now, if you’re curious as to whether or not gluten is affecting you, there are a couple of routes to take.
Talk to your doctor about gluten-sensitivity testing, or you can try cutting it out all-together then seeing how you feel.
Gluten Conditions Edition: 9 Health Benefits of a GF Diet
To the main event!
Like said above, if you have a disease like celiac, you can definitely benefit from cutting out the source:
Here are some of the many benefits of going GF (if you already have gluten issues).
Everyone reacts differently to lifestyle changes, which means it’s likely not all of the benefits will apply to you.
1. Reduces Those Splitting Headaches
Cool fact of the day:
Your gut and brain are super connected.
This is why some people experience a lot of headaches or migraines when they have a gluten intolerance. So, when you remove gluten, studies show it could reduce the number of headaches you experience.
2. Boosts Your Bone Health: Strong Skeleton FTW!
One of the dangers of having an undiagnosed disease like celiac is malnutrition. Unfortunately, your small intestine becomes extremely damaged and prevents nutrients from entering your bloodstream.
After a while, this causes vitamin deficiencies like calcium and iron, which is where other consequences like poor bone health and anemia come in.
However, studies show if you struggle with gluten and go GF, it’s likely your bone health will improve.
3. Clears Up Your Stressed Skin
Skin rashes like eczema and plaque psoriasis, as well as acne, can be results of gluten issues.
Your gut and skin are linked, too!
And there’s some evidence that following a gluten-free diet can help improve your skin.
So if you’re wrestling a skin battle and think you have a gluten problem, consider cutting it out and seeing if your skin improves!
4. Alleviates Those Annoyingly Achy Joints
Common symptoms of celiac disease include pain in your wrists, knees, and back. This is because celiac promotes an abnormal immune system response, which hikes up inflammation levels.
So, a gluten-free diet might help to ease inflammation and pain in your joints.
5. Say Bye to Bloat! ...And Other Unpleasant Symptoms
If you have a gluten problem, you know...the digestive stress can be intense. Symptoms like bloating, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, and miserable stomach pain can easily ruin your day.
However, avoiding gluten can help you reduce those symptoms.
If you stop eating gluten and you still have digestive symptoms, you might have another food intolerance to test for!
6. Elevates Energy Levels
An extra result of nutrient deficiency or anemia?
Makes sense, right?
Your body feels incredibly weak from a lack of vitamins and minerals that contribute to your energy levels. But many people with celiac find their energy levels higher than ever before on a GF diet.
7. Eases Your Mind: It’s Not All In Your Head!
A recent scientific review connected mood disorders with gluten.
Yep, it’s not all in your head!
It’s totally possible to deal with depression, anxiety, or mood swings if you’re eating gluten and don’t know you’re intolerant to it.
Again, the only way to find out if they’re connected is to go gluten-free!
8. Lessens Frustrating Hair Loss
Hair loss is commonly seen in those with major nutrient deficiencies like iron. And remember how if you have celiac you’re at a higher risk of anemia?
Your gluten-ridden diet could be contributing to hair loss. But when you avoid gluten? Your small intestine starts to heal, which means you’re able to absorb more nutrients.
Oh, hello again hair!
9. Lowers the Risk of More Autoimmune Troubles
Did you know that a lot of autoimmune diseases go hand in hand? Once you have one, like celiac, the damage often causes a snowball effect of other autoimmune diseases.
Let me explain.
Gluten can cause so much inflammation in your small intestines where it can create a phenomenon called leaky gut. Essentially, your small intestine is now permeable, and toxins, protein, and gluten can cross over into your bloodstream.
As you would expect, this causes a lot of inflammation, often resulting in other autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s Syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis.
But you’re in luck!
Because by removing gluten, you have a smaller chance of developing other autoimmune conditions.
Top 2 Debut: GF Benefits For Those Without Celiac
Alright, we’ve loaded up the gluten-free benefits for those who have celiac and other gluten-related conditions.
They can really benefit from removing gluten from their diet!
But what about pros for those who don’t have one of those conditions?
Well, you get some perks, too.
1. More Control of Whole Foods
Here’s the thing.
When you’re gluten-free, you’re usually a more health-conscious person, which then helps you choose more nutritious foods in general.
A gluten-free diet is also more limited when it comes to processed foods, like bread and cake. As a result, it’s more whole foods-oriented, which are usually much higher in nutrients.
2. *May* Help Lose LBs
The beauty of more nutrient-dense whole foods?
They promote healthy weight loss.
Keep in mind, going gluten-free isn’t directly correlated to weight loss. However, doctors speculate some lose excess pounds without gluten since whole foods tend to have fewer calories than their high-cal, packaged counterparts.
Life-Changing Tips You Need to Stick to a GF Diet
Now that you know all the benefits of a GF diet, how do you stick to it?
Let’s be real.
Just like any other time you remove food from your lifestyle, there will be a couple of struggles to look out for.
But no worries!
Here are the BEST tips to stick to a GF diet.
Eye-Up Food Labels
As you get used to a gluten-free diet, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with foods you can eat. At first, it might seem overwhelming– there are a lot of common foods with gluten after all!
Keep a lookout for trigger ingredients like wheat, triticale, rye, barley, malt, brewer’s yeast, durum, semolina, spelt, and farina.
If it helps, you can just stick to certified gluten-free foods, or use an app on your phone like The Gluten-Free Scanner to detect foods with gluten.
Remember! Gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean healthy. There are plenty of gluten-free products out there with a crazy amount of processed sugar, oils, and preservatives. Homemade foods are always best, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Plan, Then Plan Some More
When you’re eating out, make sure to plan ahead by calling to ask for gluten-free options on the menu or using an app like Find Me Gluten-Free to search for restaurants nearby who have gluten-free capabilities.
Avoid Starvation & Own Up: Bring Food
Heading to a potluck? Party?
Better safe than sorry!
Bring your own food, so you don’t end up in starvation mode.
You can also read up on these 42 Gluten-Free Potluck Recipes for ideas.
Pro-tip for road trips:
Make sure to bring a fair share of gluten-free snacks for the ride. You can’t guarantee GF options will be available at your destination! And if there aren’t any, plan on eating lots of whole, single-ingredient foods like vegetables, fruits, and lean meats.
Kitchen Cookin’? Separate the Plates & Utensils
If you’re the only gluten-free gal in the family, you’ll need to plan out the new cooking process.
To avoid cross-contamination, use separate cooking utensils or solely make naturally gluten-free recipes.
Here are a few!
- Creamy Cauliflower Soup
- Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl
- Sweet Baked Ham
- Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
- Honey Lemon Chicken
Save Time & Make It Fun! Buy a GF Cookbook
How can you make GF cooking more fun?
Use a cookbook!
It’s a lot easier than filing through hundreds of online recipes that don’t give much direction on the gluten-free diet overall.
Most GF authors go into things like GF substitutes, must-have pantry items, and more.
Check out this list of 21 gluten-free & vegan cookbooks!
Avoid Frustration With Communication
If your family and friends know you’re following a gluten-free diet, they’ll be more likely to pick restaurants that can accommodate you.
Maybe they’ll want to join, and you’ll have an accountability buddy to swap recipes and ideas with!
Don’t Break Your GF Bank
I’ll be honest.
A gluten-free diet isn’t the most budget-friendly lifestyle since the production process for gluten-free foods is a lot more thorough.
But it’s still possible to eat cheap while GF!
For instance, when you shop primarily around the perimeter of the store, you’ll find cheaper (and fresher) naturally gluten-free foods. You can also try buying in bulk, couponing, and sticking with mainstream GF products instead of more expensive, luxury products.
For more info (and cheap GF recipes), read Save Your Health & Wealth: 19 Cheap Gluten-Free Meals to Try ASAP.
They Still Matter! Stock Up On Nutrients
Many people mainly get their B vitamins from fortified bread, and since you probably won’t be eating regular bread on a GF diet, it’s important to keep up with your nutrient intake.
Make sure to load up on leafy greens, legumes, and whole grains.
And don’t forget fiber! You can get fiber from oatmeal, raspberries, nuts, beans, avocado, sweet potato, and seeds.
As always, when making any dietary changes, talk to your doctor about any worries, possible meal plan ideas, and testing for nutrient deficiencies.
20 Go-To GF Recipes to Keep in Your Back Pocket
Recipes on recipes!
Having go-to recipes when you’re in a gluten-free pinch can make a world of difference, especially if you’re craving those typical bready foods like pancakes!
From breakfasts, lunch, snacks, and dinners, here’s a great list of GF meals for any time of day:
- Easy Gluten-Free Apple Muffins
- Fluffy Gluten-Free Blueberry Pancakes
- Tex Mex Breakfast Bowls
- Gluten-Free Waffles
- Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls
- Gluten-Free Chicken Fried Rice
- Gluten-Free Baked Chicken Nuggets
- Turkey and Dill Gluten-Free Pinwheels
- Creamy Gluten-Free Italian Pasta Salad
- Farmer’s Market Quinoa Salad
- No-Bake Cookie Energy Bites
- Healthy Green Smoothie
- Crisp Sweet Potato Fries
- Easy Gluten-Free Zucchini Bread
- Gluten-Free Pizza Bites
- Easy Gluten-Free Taco Bowl Recipe
- Gluten-Free Lasagna
- Easy Pad Thai
- Super Creamy Gluten-Free Mac n’ Cheese
- Coconut Chicken Curry
Dessert-lover? Check out these 40 Healthy Gluten-Free Desserts to *Shamelessly* Devour!
Remember– “Healthy” Looks Different for Everyone
It’s easy to assume what’s healthy for one person is healthy for you. But unfortunately, that’s not how it works.
Everyone has a varied set of genes, gut bacteria, and environmental factors that make up who you are. This means we all react differently to diets, including gluten-free!
The only way to see if it works for you is to try it!
If you reap the benefits, great! If not, it’s time to try something else.
Either way, going gluten-free is a great place to start your health journey, especially if you suspect gluten foul play!
Ready to start shopping for gluten-free goodies? Download our (FREE) printable GF grocery list!
Want to learn more about gluten-free living first? Check out more blog posts here!