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Gluten-free diets are another empty fad

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Contact CU Independent Opinion Staff Writer Mackenzie Brecker at mabr2440@colorado.edu.

Five years ago, if I heard the word “gluten,” I wouldn’t have had the slightest idea what someone was talking about. It’s become a more common term, with more and more people changing to a gluten-free lifestyle. However, going gluten-free could have more negative effects than positive.

For the most part, the gluten-free trend feels like an excuse to lose weight. Everyone is always looking for a new, quick way to lose weight and feel healthy, and for some reason, going gluten-free is the latest trick. However, there is no proof that going gluten-free is healthier for you.

Gluten-free foods usually have more calories and sugars to make up for the missing tastes gluten provides, and gluten from whole grains can help prevent heart disease, cancer and other health problems. In fact, going gluten-free may actually cause you to gain more weight because you are cutting nutrients from your diet.

Going gluten-free also causes you to spend more money on food, considering specialized diets are much more expensive. Not only are you hurting your body by not giving it all the nutrients it needs, but you are spending more money than you need to. You are basically paying more money to eat food that will make you unhealthy. College students are usually looking for the cheapest stuff, but when it comes to food, many seem to make an exception for gluten.

There’s also the possibility of becoming gluten-intolerant from completely cutting gluten out of your diet. Going gluten-free may seem like a healthy option, but are you willing to get a stomachache, headache and fatigue if you decide to have just one piece of pizza? Once you cut gluten out of your life for a long period of time, it’s hard to ever go back.

Another obvious negative is that the food just isn’t as good. When I go to restaurants that have only gluten-free options, I’m disappointed when I receive my meal because the bread that comes on my sandwich looks like a sad, dead piece of food. It doesn’t have the same fluffiness that regular bread contains, and it looks like someone pulled it out of a trashcan. As someone who loves her food, especially bread, presentation is important, and I want it to actually look edible. Of course I’m not just going to ignore a full plate of food, so I still eat it, but I don’t feel fully satisfied. 

However, this gluten-free trend would seem like someone with celiac disease’s dream. Celiac disease is characterized by having an immune reaction to eating gluten.

 Ten years ago, going out to eat and even eating certain foods at home must have been nearly impossible. Of course there are options like meat, fruits and vegetables, but it would be hard to go without pasta for almost your entire life. With all the new gluten-free creations such as pizza, spaghetti, cake and others, those who are celiac are afforded several more options than before. They are able to go out to restaurants and order items off of the menu that can be made gluten-free.

However, not all gluten-free items are actually gluten-free. Many companies are so eager to get on the gluten-free bandwagon that they’re labeling their products as gluten-free when they may actually have gluten. General Mills is involved in a lawsuit because they labeled millions of boxes of cereal as gluten-free when they weren’t. Although this may not seem like such a big deal, for someone with celiac disease, this could be a life or death situation. With all of the positives that have been brought for those who are gluten intolerant, the gluten-free trend contributes to negatives such as this one.

For the most part, if you don’t have celiac disease and you’re not gluten intolerant, then you shouldn’t go gluten-free. There are many other options for losing weight and becoming healthier, such as eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Exercising is also a way to lose weight and feel good from all those extra endorphins. Thirty years ago, society was able to function perfectly well without gluten-free options, so we can definitely do it now.

The gluten-free trend is too much of a risk, and is a fad that will surely die out in the future.

About Mackenzie Brecker

Mackenzie Brecker is a sophomore at CU Boulder studying journalism with an emphasis in creative writing.

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