The Gluten Free Diet
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The Gluten Free Diet
Normally, gluten-free eating is associated with people who have coeliac disease - but could a GF lifestyle help you to slim down too?
Note: Coeliac disease is an auto-immune condition caused by an intolerance to gluten - but if you think you may have it, DON'T go gluten free until your doctor tells you to, as this will hinder diagnosis of the disease.
How it works
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, so going gluten-free means cutting out foods that contain these grains.
That means no bread, pasta, cereals, or, sadly cakes and biscuits...
Norma McGough, Head of Diet and Health at Coeliac UK, says there's no research to prove that a GF diet can be used for anything other than treating coeliac disease, but she explains that avoiding gluten may result in weight loss as a lot of foods containing it are high in carbs and sugar - and in calories.
Asked about the reason for the popularity of the diet among slimmers, she suggests, "Maybe because it offers people a new way of controlling their food intake?"
But gluten-free foods aren't necessarily slimming. "There are GF varieties of foods now available," warns Norma, "So the reduction in carbohydrate foods which may result on a GF diet and may cause weight loss is not a foolproof way to lose weight."
Replacing regular sugary snacks with gluten-free sugary snacks, for instance, won't do you much good!
A typical day
Going completely gluten-free is more complicated than you might think. It's easy to steer clear of the obvious - bread, cakes, cereal - but gluten can also be found in fish fingers, sausages, gravies, even soy sauce! To avoid gluten altogether, you have to check labels religiously.
So what can you eat? Meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, fruit, vegetables, rice, nuts, potatoes... There's still a lot to choose from, and notice that most of these foods are naturally healthy. You can also look for special 'Free From' foods in the supermarket, or check out directories of gluten-free products online.
Fans of the diet as a weight loss regime say it results in thinner thighs, a flatter belly, and increased energy. But as going gluten-free is usually a medical treatment, not a slimming plan, it's impossible to say how much weight you could lose - or if you'll lose any at all.
Essentially, the more calories you cut out, the quicker you'll lose weight, and avoiding gluten-heavy products may help you to lower your calorie intake.
You can still eat fresh, balanced meals and shouldn't get hungry. It's not a two-week fad diet; it's a change you can stick to.
Avoiding gluten can be limiting, especially when you go out or travel abroad. And remember: if you suspect you have coeliac disease, don't cut gluten from your diet until your doctor agrees to it.
Miley Cyrus recently posted on Twitter that her weight loss was due to going gluten-free. Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rachel Weisz have also been linked to GF diets.
Find out more
You can find out more about living with coeliac disease and gluten-free eating from Coeliac UK, or from books such as Elisabeth Hasselbeck's The G-Free Diet.
Check out a huge selection of diet plans in our comprehensive Diet A-Z list.
Article Plan The Gluten Free Diet