When fad diets become complicated

Fad diets have come and gone, each with the promise of shedding the weight and gaining a healthier lifestyle for those who embark on them. The majority of these well known diets have since been dismissed and forgotten. Yet, something new has been brought to the attention of the masses, which has celebrities swearing by it.

Maybe you’ve heard about the latest craze by drooling over Miley Cyrus’s six-pack which she attributes her strict gluten-free diet. Although some people take on this challenge of not eating anything that contains gluten by choice, there are many people whose bodies simply cannot tolerate it. With the hope of losing those holiday pounds is it safe to test out this diet if you don’t need to be on it? This was a question for Laurier’s registered dietician, Caroline Valerite, who summed up what gluten is and where we can find it in our foods.

“[Gluten] is the protein structure for wheat, it gives bread its structure” she explained. This includes wheat, rye and barley and can be found in foods that contain flour such as pasta, pizza, pastries and even beverages such as beer.

“I would never recommend it for someone to lose weight” Valerite cautioned. Students consume most of these foods on a daily basis, so cutting them out may be challenging.

The difficulty that comes with adhering to this diet could easily be avoided for someone who does not posses a wheat allergy. This process is difficult enough for someone with a wheat allergy as it poses a challenge for preparing foods that do not contain any gluten at all. All foods must not have been in contact with any wheat, whether it be from the counter, or prepared with the same utensils used to prepare the foods with gluten on it. Most gluten-free groceries are expensive and some grocery stores may not supply them.

With all these challenges you may be wondering why this trend in dieting has exploded in the way it has. This can easily be attributed to the fact that most fatty foods contain gluten and wheat products. Favorites like pizza, cheeseburgers and donuts are strictly avoided, which leads to the weight loss factor.

(Graphic by Jessica Mitra).
(Graphic by Jessica Mitra).

“Often, many people experience weight loss when exploring this diet because much of these types of foods are being avoided.” Valerite described. Although avoiding junk food is not necessarily a bad thing, all foods should be consumed in moderation. Cutting out one section of the food group is not necessary when seeking weight loss.

Valertie recommends watching portion sizes rather than cutting out wheat altogether. Practicing moderation ensures more balance between all the food groups while getting all the necessary vitamins and nutrients. While most of us have the luxury of going gluten free as a choice, some have no other option.

Rachel Pearson, a third-year student at Laurier, suffers from a wheat allergy, forcing her to avoid all wheat-related products. When asked if she finds it difficult to maintain her gluten free diet on campus Pearson responded “Many quick or cheap meals for university students contain gluten so I have to make sure to put the effort in to cook all of my meals.”

As far as grabbing something on campus, Pearson finds it difficult to grab a quick meal. However those who do suffer from wheat allergies should not be discouraged from all food services offered on campus.

“I recently went to Wilf’s and was happily surprised to find a whole gluten free menu, they had gluten free pasta and other options which was nice for a change,” said Pearson.

Changing your diet to gluten free is a difficult challenge, and for all the extra prep time and expenses that come along with it, it is a difficult diet to follow if you have the choice. With many high-calorie treats containing gluten, it may be an easier decision to just consume your favourite foods in moderation.

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