Can “Gluten-Free” Make you Skinny?


This caption caught my attention as I was skimming through a recent issue of Redbook Magazine. I was skeptical to read the article at first, as the two other health features on the same page are titled “Another Reason to Have a Drink” and “Yes, Your Undies Can Be Bad for You.” However, I kept reading and am glad that I did.

I was happy to see this article in a mainstream women’s publication for the following reasons:

  • Gluten is defined, in plain English, as a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. This is a good thing, as I wrote last month about the general public’s lack of understanding of what gluten actually is.
  • It alludes to the fact that gluten is often hidden in “non-obvious” foods, such as soups, salad dressings, and sausages.
  • The two medical reasons to be on a gluten-free diet, celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, are discussed.
  • Although the gluten-free diet is referred to as “the world’s biggest diet trend,” there is not a laundry list of celebs who are gluten free. This is good, because if one more person mentions to me that they’ve heard that Lady Gaga is on a gluten-free diet, I think I am going to rip all of the hairs out of my head!

My criticisms of the article are as follows:

  • As usual, celiac disease is described as an autoimmune disease affecting only the gut, despite the fact that it is associated with so many other problems, including infertility, anemia, osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and fatigue.
  • There is no mention of the huge number of those with gluten sensitivity (up to 8% of the U.S. population).
  • The concept of the importance of cutting out both gluten-containing and gluten-free processed foods is totally ignored. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, as for many, being “gluten-free” means to continue to follow the carbohydrate-heavy, overly processed, standard American diet, i.e. substituting GF bagels for regular bagels and GF frozen dinners for regular frozen dinners.

It is very important for overall health and bodily healing that those of us who have Celiac Disease start on a predominantly whole foods diet. We need to focus on buying, preparing, and eating fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, lean meats, etc. (instead of GF cookies, muffins, waffles, etc.) While I am grateful that so many GF products exist, and I do indulge occasionally, I am thankful that my diagnosis has forced me to change the entire nutritional landscape of my family. I can assure you that I have not missed being able to eat Cheezits, Lucky Charms, Doritos, or Weight Watchers frozen entrees for a moment.

In summary, while this is not the best article out there about the gluten-free diet, it is an easy and quick read. And it does increase awareness that eating gluten-free is not a magic bullet for weight loss.

Next up, I need to keep reading to find out if my underwear is bad for me!

4 thoughts on “Can “Gluten-Free” Make you Skinny?

  1. G-Free Laura

    Good synopsis! There are so many things people still don’t understand about the gluten-free diet.

    Also, hope the undie investigation goes well!

  2. Jess Post author

    Hi Laura,
    Thank you for stopping by and for your support! I hope that as more of us talk about and post about being gluten free that we can increase awareness and promote understanding of gluten-related disorders. I look forward to checking out your page too!

  3. stephanie

    I am wondering if the gf trend for weight loss is working for some individuals because they actually have a undiagnosed gluten problem. My daughter and I are celiac and overweight. Part of the reason the Dr didn’t believe we could have celiac. But when I get accidental Gluten my weight goes up 6-8 pds. When I went gf I dropped 20 pds quickly. Seems our bodies all react differently to the attack. My face swells terrible along with my stomach and all the wonderful other reactions that go along with it.
    I don’t eat gf products. My motto is KISS 😉 whole foods, fruit and vegies its just easier for me.
    I’m so frustrated with how uneducated health care professionals are about celiac. So glad I found this page.

    1. Jess Post author

      Hi Stephanie, I am glad that you have found my page too!
      Yes, I agree that there are probably many who do lose weight when they go gluten free due to having a true gluten sensitivity. The best estimates are that 6-8% of Americans are gluten sensitive and would benefit from being on a gluten free diet.
      The very first patient who I met with celiac disease during my medical training was undiagnosed for years because she was of above average weight (and thus her doctors did not think that she could have celiac).
      I think the best thing that we can do is all work together to educate patients, doctors, friends, neighbors, family, etc. about this disease. Just this morning I was at an appointment and a nurse asked me if my celiac disease developed as a result of having a stressful job! She had no idea that it is a genetic disease. She did not even know what foods gluten can be found in. I tried my best to educate her in a small amount of time.
      I agree that a whole foods diet is the way to go for us. I definitely feel my best when I exclude all processed foods, even GF ones.
      Happy New Year to you and your family! I hope that you and your daughter continue to feel well.

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