What is Gluten?
Recently, the phrase “gluten-free” has become as common on restaurant menus as it has in comedy punch lines. But, what is gluten and why don’t some people want any part of it?
Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It acts as a glue that holds food together. Most breads, pastas and other wheat products contain gluten, but there are some unexpected foods that contain gluten. Soy sauce and teriyaki sauce can have gluten among their ingredients, as well.
Understanding Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that prevents your body from properly digesting gluten. About 1% of people around the world suffer from Celiac disease—many without even realizing it. The symptoms of Celiac disease can vary greatly. Some people can handle cross-contamination on kitchen counters whereas others can’t eat gluten-free foods that were even made in the same factory as foods with gluten without suffering intense symptoms like bloating, gas, intestinal discomfort, vomiting or diarrhea.
Should I Be Gluten-Free?
Somewhere along the way, the messaging behind Celiac disease and gluten-free diets got a little confused.
It’s important to understand that not everyone needs to avoid gluten.
Dietitians marketed gluten-free products as leading to weight loss, increased energy and improved overall health—for everyone. However, there is no scientific evidence that cutting gluten out of the diet of someone who does not have Celiac disease automatically makes them healthier (just like because someone is a vegetarian does not make them healthier than an omnivore).
There are many reasons why people might feel different after starting a gluten-free diet. Removing bread and other grains from your meals can alter your overall intake of fiber, vitamins and other nutrients that have nothing to do with gluten, specifically. Swapping out footlong hoagies for lunch with a meal of chicken, broccoli, and rice will help your digestive health for many reasons. Being conscious of the foods you’re consuming, and even just carefully checking labels for gluten, can make a huge difference in your diet.
Living a Healthy Gluten-Free Lifestyle
There are many different reasons to be gluten-free and, fortunately, it has never been easier. Registered dietician and founder of Celiac Space, Erin Heidenreich says 10 years ago, “it was almost impossible to find anything to snack on that was gluten-free.” We are doing our best here at Dare to Be Different to continue to make it easier for anyone who lives gluten-free to have plenty of options for meals and snacks.
There are two major difficulties with maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle. First, it can be difficult to find healthy, gluten-free pre-made foods. Well, every single one of our products, from broccoli crusts to cauliflower gnocchi, is gluten-free. So feel free to shop without limits. Second, it can be easy to feel left out of popular meal options like pizza and or the modern snackcuterie boards. We want to make the same delicious and beloved flavors available to everyone, regardless of their dietary needs. Whether you’re just starting on your gluten-free journey or have been on your way for decades, Dare to Be Different is here for you.
Bring Dare to Be Different Home
Looking for a simple, yet delicious gluten-free meal for your whole family? Visit our online store to stock up on plant-based crusts and pastas. Or, take a spin through a few of Robin’s favorite recipes on our blog for easy weeknight inspiration!