Three cheers for the millions of people who follow a gluten-free diet, proving that gluten-free is more than just a fad, but a way of life for celiacs and anyone suffering from digestive distress or chronic pain caused by this controversial protein called, “gluten.”
Sales of gluten-free foods has experienced explosive growth, with sales at $973 million at the end of 2014. Experts project that sales of gluten-free foods will exceed $2 billion in 2019 – doubling in size in just five short years!! (Source: Packaged Facts)
With all eyes on what’s next for the gluten-free industry, we have to wonder if the gluten-free dieters and consumers are winners or losers in this bustling industry. Let’s discuss.
WHY GLUTEN-FREE CONSUMERS ARE WINNERS:
Alternatives Galore! Some might consider us winners because there are a lot of gluten-free alternatives to our favorite foods. We can get gluten-free breads, gluten-free pastas, gluten-free pretzels, gluten-free cookies – you name it, there is a gluten-free packaged food for it. Many restaurants cater to the gluten-free community, so gluten-free dieters can go out to dinner, grab a snack on the go, and enjoy many of their favorite foods again! The industry has come a long way and it’s easier than ever (albeit still very challenging) to be a gluten-free consumer.
Quality Ingredients: Furthermore, there are many boutique gluten-free brands that use quality ingredients and wouldn’t be caught dead using artificial dyes and preservatives in their foods. Many of the “natural” and “organic” brands have stepped up their gluten-free offerings, giving consumers items with less crap and more quality. When you’re gluten-free, you’re introduced to a world of exciting nutrient-dense flours (like almond flour* and quinoa flour*) and alternative gluten-free pastas. You can find baking mixes that use tons of whole grains, ancient grains, flax seeds and more – like Whole Note Baking Mixes* and Simple Mills Baking Mixes* using almond flour.
Immense Willpower: You might also consider gluten-free dieters winners because we have immense willpower to pass on eating bread. I broke up with gluten-free bread because it’s nutritionally void and not all that great (although, in full disclosure, on occasion I’ll eat a slice or two). When we avoid all those bread and gluten-filled products, we naturally eat better. Instead of dipping bread in hummus, I’ll dip carrot sticks. We are forced to crowd out the bad stuff and insert good foods into our bodies.
Healthy Lifestyle: Lastly, gluten-free dieters are winners because we are no longer ingesting that hard-to-digest protein (gluten) and making our bodies work in overtime. Many of us report more energy, less fatigue, less chronic pain, less inflammation, better skin, and overall better digestion.
WHY GLUTEN-FREE CONSUMERS ARE LOSERS:
Same Crappy Food, GF Label: With supermarkets flooded with gluten-free packaged foods, we are now being fed the same modified crap we were fed before. Many of the products are still loaded with sugar, processed ingredients, GMOs, preservatives, refined flours and artificial nonsense. I’ve heard that many gluten-free products have more sugar than their gluten-full counterparts in order to compensate for poor taste. Aren’t we lucky, we can now eat gluten-free Lucky Charms so we maintain an overweight body and artificial dye-filled gut. Give me a break!
Butt of Jokes: Others might consider us GFers losers because our diet is so misunderstood and often the butt of jokes. People just don’t get the gluten-free diet and instead of learning and understanding, they poke fun at it. Anyone who does that is a downright bully. Jimmy Kimmel is one who enjoys regularly poking fun at gluten-free dieters. He pulled an offensive stunt at the Grammy’s where he called those following a gluten-free diet, “annoying,” prompting many of us to feel ashamed for something we cannot control.
Hard to Find Food on the Go: Oftentimes a healthy gluten-free meal is hard to come by. I’m traveling on El Al airlines next week and its “gluten-free meal” is not safe for celiacs. I struggled to get the food system down on my Royal Caribbean cruise. And when I visited the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando last month, the only thing gluten-free I could find were bananas and potato chips (the potato chips were sitting on a display case labeled, “gluten-free” – I rolled my eyes at the idiot who thought to label them). Everything else at the Kennedy Space Center was a gluten-filled food-like substance that disappointed my entire family immensely.
Extreme Costs: Gluten-free folks also lose out because gluten-free products cost more. It’s frustrating but true. Restaurants like PF Chang’s charge more for gluten-free items (a move that is landing the restaurant in a battle over the legalities of charging people with “disabilities” more money). A recent study found that all commercially available products labeled “gluten-free” were more expensive than comparable products. The study found that the mean unit price for gluten-free products was $1.71 compared with $0.61 for comparable products. On average, researchers found that gluten-free products were 242% more expensive than regular products!! (Source: Gluten-Free and Regular Foods: A Cost Comparison) My grocery bills can attest to this. Gluten-free and healthy foods costs more. Ho hum.
There you have it, a list of why gluten-free dieters win some and lose some. What do you think? Are you a gluten-free winner or loser?
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