Gluten Free Does Not Equal Healthy

It is early January and with all the resolving to be healthier, a new diet may be on your mind. Before you jump on the GF bandwagon, read this.

I follow a gluten free diet, but not by choice. For years, I had been having GI symptoms, sometimes severe. I attributed it to stress, IBS and as Caroline Ingalls would say, “shhhh, women’s problems.” In 2014, I decided to give GF a try. I committed to two weeks, but within one week, I was feeling like a different person. Not only were my stomach issues gone, I had more energy and somehow felt lighter in my mood. It was clear to me I have a gluten intolerance.

It is fairly easy for an adult these days to be gluten free. GF choices are abundant, I cook most of my own food anyway, and I’m not invited to too many parties where they only serve pizza and cake. But, just because gluten free options are accessible does not make them healthy.

A few months ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a study about gluten free and kids. A researcher tested hundreds of gluten free foods and came to the conclusion 88% of GF foods for children are unhealthy. At first glance this seems appalling, but the sad truth is the vast majority of all foods marketed to children are unhealthy, so gluten free is no exception.

What about brands marketing GF alternatives for common foods like pasta and cookies? Very often these contain more sugar, carry a heavier carb load and are more caloric than the originals. Switching to a GF diet may make you feel better if it is a strictly healthy one, including lots of our naturally occurring GF products like fruits, vegetables, quinoa and lean proteins. Likely though, you are like 99% of the population, do not need to go gluten free for health reasons and are just enjoying the benefit of an overall healthier diet. Don’t be fooled by false health claims. Gluten free may seem like an easy diet to follow, but that does not make it necessary or healthy for you and will likely not result in weight loss. On top of that, I really do miss pizza and birthday cake!

Facebook Twitter Google Digg Reddit LinkedIn Pinterest StumbleUpon Email

Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


Sign up for our email newsletter