By Lily Firth
Social Media Editor
Over the past few years, many people have followed the gluten-free diet trend because they think it will lead to massive weight loss or an altogether healthier lifestyle. This is a misconstrued message that needs to be debunked because people without gluten allergies should not be taking this protein out of their diets.
Gluten is a protein that can be found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Foods that commonly have gluten in them are breads, cereals, pastas and many processed foods. According to Scientific American, whole grains that contain gluten also have necessary fiber, vitamins and minerals. Gluten-free foods are usually low in nutrients, and people with the allergy have to get them through other foods or supplements. Studies show gluten-free diets can be deficient in fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc.
Many people who have taken gluten out of their diet reported weight loss, but it’s not because of the lack of gluten. When people try to avoid gluten, they cut out many desserts, junk food and processed food, which leads to the weight loss and healthier feeling.
Another harmful result of removing gluten unnecessarily from your diet is the perpetuation of the diet’s negative connotations. Because so many people tried cutting out gluten to be “trendy” or “skinny,” people with real, severe allergies are not taken as seriously.
I have recently been diagnosed with a severe gluten allergy, and when I go to restaurants, I have to basically spell out that I have the allergy, not that I am just “gluten-free.”
I’ve seen this misunderstanding with other allergies as well. I’ve talked to a friend who is very lactose intolerant that has gone to a coffee shop and asked for almond milk — the barista did not take her seriously because she didn’t specify it was an allergy, and gave her dairy milk anyway.
On the other hand, many restaurants and grocery stores have made extreme accommodations for people with these needs, such as supplying separate menus and having whole aisles dedicated to allergy-free foods. Many companies have been making cleaner and less processed foods to try to combat the stigma around processed foods that contain a lot of these common allergens as well.
I would do anything to be able to eat bread and pasta without all of the hassle, so if you do not have a gluten allergy, stick to your whole grains and please eat a piece of bread for me.