Gluten Free – what’s the deal?

In a day and age of diet fads, it’s all too easy to dismiss those who go ‘gluten free’ as simply those on a health kick. And whilst that’s perhaps true of the majority of the 8.5million people in the UK who are now gluten free, this diet is not a choice, but a real necessity for 1% of the population who suffer with coeliac disease.

Coeliacs suffer when their immune systems react to gluten, affecting the lining of the gut and causing horrible symptoms from bloating to diarrhoea and nausea.

So what is gluten? It’s a protein, naturally occurring in rye, barley and wheat which lends itself to giving foods a chewy texture and aides in the baking process.

The Gluten Free way…

The good news is that a gluten free diet is far from a diet of doom and gloom. For a start, our award winning, RSPCA Assured, responsibly farmed bacon can happily be consumed – hurrah! But there are also many naturally gluten-free foods such as organic meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, rice, potatoes and lentils to cook with. Equally, us lucky consumers are able to benefit from an ever-growing set of ‘free from’ foods in supermarkets.

Lots of people attempting to go gluten free do so as a way of trying to combat general bloating or lethargy, and there’s no doubt that a gluten free diet can be a way to lose weight healthily without starving yourself. However, if not restricted to a gluten free diet because of Coeliacs disease, gluten remains an important part of anyone’s diet. There are health benefits to keeping small and regular amounts of gluten in your daily diet. Whole grains in particular are known to be highly beneficial for the health of your heart. Equally a total avoidance of gluten is known to significantly increase the risk of diabetes, by as much as 13%.

Is it ‘Caveman’?

There tends to be a confusion between a Paleo diet and that of a gluten free diet also. Whilst going ‘gluten free’ is a necessity for some, the idea behind the Paleo diet is that one eats food true to our origins as hunter-gatherer folk (hence the nickname the ‘Caveman’ diet). Food groups excluded therefore include the likes of dairy (no cheese! Cor…) grains, legumes or any type of processed food. This leaves the Paleo follower with an extremely high protein, low carb diet involving a moderately high omega 3 & 6 fat intake. In order to keep it ‘Caveman’, foods should be organic, meats outdoor bred/reared (spoiltpig!) and not contain unnatural chemicals (did we mention spoiltpig yet?).

A diet regime?

Where Paleo often gets confused with gluten free is because of the affect it can have on the health of your guts. As a diet, Paleo is a great way to repair any damage you may have in your gut (IBS, bloating etc) and introduces more healthy bacteria back into your gut to help your body process the good stuff and keep all the bad bacteria, fats etc flowing out of your system. So it’s great for healthy guts, as well as weight management and general feelings of wellbeing/energy levels.

However, whilst Paleo can kick start your weight loss regime, in the longer term it’s not so great. The natural calorie content of such a diet is high. If anything, it can become easier to gain weight in the longer term as you find yourself snacking heavily on cashew nuts and the like as a way of curbing chocolate cravings. But mainly, the issue with the Paleo diet is that it’s really, really tricky to maintain long term. If you enjoy a healthy social life and a real variety at mealtimes then this probably isn’t for you. Of course, everyone is individual and what works for one person might not be the answer for the next, BUT what’s important is that Paleo and Gluten Free are two wholly separate ‘diets’. One a necessity and the other more a change of lifestyle.

Hopefully that’s cleared up some myths/confusions around these diets. Whether you’re someone conforming to a gluten free diet for medical reasons or someone simply trying to cut down on gluten intake, look no further! Our recipe pages are full of inspiration for those on a gluten free diet. Sweet or savoury, breakfast, lunch or dinner, we have choices aplenty. Yay! Yummy bacon for tea it shall be!

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