8 Gluten-Free Things That Won’t Help You Lose Weight Like Miley Cyrus

Yesterday, TheGloss posted about Miley Cyrus‘ dubious announcement that she has a gluten allergy—which she says explains her recent weight loss (not an eating disorder or crash diet, like some people-with-too-much-time-on-their-hands have been speculating). Whether she’s jumping on a diet trend for weight loss or health, we can’t be sure—but Miley’s tweets about gluten were less than illuminating for people who are confused about why so many people are suddenly going gluten-free. So here’s a crash course on the topic, and the trendy foods to avoid—whether you want to lose weight or improve your health.

First, it’s important to understand the main problems people have with wheat and gluten:

  1. Gluten Sensitivity—can range from mild to extreme reaction to gluten, but won’t show up on blood tests for Celiac Disease (this is also often referred to as a gluten allergy).
  2. Celiac Disease—an autoimmune disorder by which eating gluten causes an immune reaction that destroys the lining of the lower intestine, causing an inability to absorb certain nutrients and, in worst cases, can cause deficiencies that severely damage the nervous system and vital organs.

“Gluten intolerance” is a vague term that indicates a wide spectrum of reactions to gluten, including gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.

According to recent research, gluten sensitivity and celiac have both increased dramatically in recent years. Gluten allergies in particular have increased exponentially—some believe as many as 5 to 10% of Americans suffer some form of it—while it’s less clear whether celiac has grown as rapidly. One study last year indicated that it’s five times more common than it was in the 1950′s, but researcher’s aren’t sure if that’s because of increased awareness and diagnosis, or an actual change in our immune systems.

And explanations abound: While some researchers claim that the increase in celiac is because we have become “too clean,” causing a weakening of our immune systems, many doctors claim the rise in gluten sensitivity is due to the genetic modification of wheat in recent years (like many plants, wheat has been altered for higher crop yields, and different taste and texture to suit modern tastes and food product needs).

But whatever the statistics and explanations, many don’t believe the hype; in fact, a study published earlier this year basically called bullshit on anyone claiming gluten sensitivity who doesn’t test positive for celiac disease.

The skepticism, at least in part part, is probably due to the simultaneous boom in “gluten-free” foods on the market. A New York Times article published last fall cited statistics claiming the volume of products sold went up 37% in 2011, making the gluten-free market a $6.3 billion industry and growing. With that kind of market opportunity, it’s not just niche health food companies who are jumping on the bandwagon; corporations like General Mills are also looking for a way to get in on what seem to be recession-proof profits.

But many of the doctors urging patients to ditch gluten for improved health don’t want you to take part in those products at all; common sense says that replacing empty calories like white bread, crackers, and pastries with lean protein, vegetables, and whole grains will help most people lose weight and feel better. But swapping out processed junk for gluten-free processed junk isn’t likely to improve your health or change your body much (although those products do help people suffering celiac disease get their fix of cookies now and then).

If you’re considering jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon for health or weight loss, try to avoid foods like these:

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    • Paula

      Have we learned nothing from the Ashley Judd brouhaha? Can we stop using judgmental words like “emaciated” to describe women’s appearances?

      • Briana Rognlin

        Hi Paula–the post doesn’t actually place judgement on Miley Cyrus’ looks at all, it’s more about whether gluten-free is really a good health trend and/or weight loss method. The message you’re referring to was put on our Facebook page by mistake, and has since been taken down, as it didn’t reflect the values of our site or the content of this post. All apologies for the mistake.

        Thanks,
        Briana

    • Lauren

      Thanks for this article! I had a roommate in college who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease our senior year. She had a pretty bad case and we had to scrub down the kitchen anytime someone made toast… But that year she actually gained weight on her gluten free diet because she was still eating processed food, just more expensive processed food.

    • haley

      I completely agree that these are not healthy alternatives, but speaking as someone who has Celiac’s Disease, these foods can make transitioning to a gluten (and often, dairy) free lifestyle much easier. Because it’s an entire lifestyle change, it can be an extremely daunting commitment. Not having these options would have made it a little harder for me to commit and cut gluten cold-turkey.

      It didn’t take me long, however, to figure out my reactions to cross contamination that can wind up in anything pre-packaged, so now I cook everything at home, from scratch.

      But I am in an excellent position to do this. I am not a parent, I work from home – I had the ability to really commit to this lifestyle change. My best friend is a mother of three with a 9-month-old, works full-time and goes to school. She needs these products to fall back on to maintain a 100% gluten free diet.

      Another interesting thing to note, however, is going Gluten Free can lead to weight loss if you have a severe intolerance to it, or Celiac’s Disease. It can also lead to weight gain.

      I cut gluten, substituted it with all of those unhealthy alternatives, and lost 8 lbs. in two weeks. NOT because I was necessarily eating healthier or less (I really wasn’t) but because, like many with Celiac, my disease had lead me to Hypothyroidism. Cutting gluten immediately began relieving that. I am by NO MEANS encouraging people to cut gluten solely to lose weight, simply stating a little known fact.

      I was just tested again, 8 months after going gluten free, and my thyroid levels are almost normal!! :)

      But in another people, it leads to HypERthyroidism, and a lot of people gain weight after cutting gluten because gluten causes malabsorption and malnutrition in Celiac’s Disease.

      The bottom line is going gluten free should never be approached from a desire to lose weight. It should be approached from a desire to be healthy. And if that’s where you’re coming from, it won’t be long before you figure out those over processed gluten-free foods aren’t really helping much :)

    • Vince Black

      This is not a way for me to promote my site, but very clearly, your site, ABC news and Huffington Post are spreading information that the other party negates. If you visit Gluten-sensitive.com, you can see all the evidence there. Yesterday, Huff Post clearly attacks Miley Cyrus’s use of the term gluten allergy claiming no such allergy exists. Hours later, ABC news goes your route and uses the same term that she did, “gluten allergy”. Here we are day two. You easily could have stepped back and done some research, but you didn’t. You published the same term today in this article that was attacked by Huff Post.

      The above is A. B. This propaganda campaign against gluten-free living, more than likely funded by entities that are backed by big pharmaceutical companies is sad. Sorry, but you’ve been making money off OTC stomach medicine for 100+ years. Days of suppression are coming to an end.

      #vinceblack ~ gluten-sensitive dot com

      • Briana Rognlin

        Hi Vince, Did you read my article? A) I use the term ‘gluten sensitivity.” B) I clearly explain what that means, and why a lot of people believe that it has become so much more common in recent years. C) I present both sides of the argument for and against going gluten-free. D) My main point is that whether you’re going on a gluten-free diet for health OR weight loss reasons, eating a bunch of processed junk is not going to further your goals.

        No one here is selling stomach acid medicine.

    • Danielle

      This is a great article, but at the same time I feel that you are bashing all of the people who do have a gluten allergy, I have been sick for the past three months, very tired weak, and not acting like my normal self. I got tested for multiple things and one of them was for a gluten allergy.
      I have now cut out gluten and I have started to notice more energy and thinking clearly. Readers here are not looking to follow after Miley Cyrus, my own persona opinion is that the majority of the readers on blisstree are healthy, active people who are constantly striving to live a clean, healthy lifestyle, if cutting out gluten is the way to achieve that, then let it be so. please do not batch or make people think that going “gluten free” is just the latest trend, it may be in mainstream America, but research the demographic of your readers here on blisstree.com…we are not ones to follow the lastest fad.

    • Kate

      I didn’t cut gluten to lose weight. I cut it to test whether or not I would keep throwing up after every meal, after six weeks of trying everything else. I kept it up because of the novelty of being happy for more than a half an hour at a time and being able to respond to people in a socially appropriate manner, which had been very difficult up until then.

      So, yeah, if I want, I am going to eat some gluten cakes.

      • Briana Rognlin

        “But swapping out processed junk for gluten-free processed junk isn’t likely to improve your health or change your body much (although those products do help people suffering celiac disease get their fix of cookies now and then).”

        I’m not saying that no one should eat this stuff when they feel like it, or that it shouldn’t exist. I’m saying people shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking that it’s “health food” or “diet food,” when it’s not.

    • Lisa