Chef Jason Roberts

Going Gluten-Free My Way

Chef Jason

G’day all,

As many of you know, I adopted a gluten-free lifestyle. It was part of a personal decision I made to lose weight and regain my health. For me personally, eating gluten caused bloating, puffiness, inflammation in my large intestine, I generally just felt sluggish, tired and unbalanced. While not a true Celiac, I do feel the negative effects when I eat gluten and noticed the difference immediately when I cut it out of my diet. It was then I started to dig deeper and realized what a phenomenon the gluten-free fad had become.

There seems to be some confusion and downright controversy starting to surround what a gluten-free lifestyle actually is and how many folks are applying it to their own lives. The debate surfaced in light of claims being made that going gluten-free can be used as a weight loss method. As with most "new" concepts, folks with a desire to get healthy and change their eating and lifestyle habits have jumped on the bandwagon and reached out to the gluten-free market. There are some cases where unscrupulous companies have fueled the misnomer about gluten-free and weight loss, seeing the potential for huge profits from a public that is often gullible and will try anything to lose weight.

It's my opinion when it comes to weight loss, that the food going in should equal the energy going out, so it doesn’t matter what food you use as fuel it will create some sort of energy and know that some foods are a better sources of fuel than others. Gluten clumps enzymes within your system and slows the flow of oxygen, which inhibits the transmitting of signals for memory and recovery (that’s my 2 cents anyway). I really feel the difference by omitting the stodgy white meals of pizza, pasta, breads and pastries.

Now, while gluten-free may be healthier in certain aspects, any time you eliminate consuming the so called "white foods," the starches and breads and such, you will immediately feel the benefits. You may still crave them and be tempted to satisfy that craving by eating sugar, but being gluten-free is not like going on a diet. In some cases gluten-free products have as much fat and calories as their gluten included counterparts. So for the record, I am not a believer in gluten-free if you’re simply looking to it to lose weight. I am, however, a believer in gluten-free because for me personally, it is healthier. I feel amazing! I think I look the best I have in a long time, my eyes are clear and I’m not puffy all the time. For the true Celiac, being gluten-free is not a fad, or trying out the latest "diet" craze (I really dislike that word diet), but a very means of survival.

For the true Celiac, mere food is just the beginning. Did you know that little things we take for granted like ingredients of over-the-counter or prescription medications and vitamins, cosmetics such as lipstick, lip balms, and lip gloss may contain gluten and need to be investigated before use? It can be a real nightmare. While there are no typical signs and symptoms of Celiac disease, most people with the disease have general complaints, such as the most common effects of gluten: diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating. However as the research is being done, there are many other less obvious symptoms that may be associated with the disease. These can include:

  • Irritability or depression
  • Anemia
  • Stomach upset
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Skin rash
  • Mouth sores
  • Dental and bone disorders (such as osteoporosis)
  • Tingling in the legs and feet (neuropathy)

According to the Mayo Clinic: “Dermatitis herpetiformis is an itchy, blistering skin disease that also stems from gluten intolerance. The rash usually occurs on the torso, scalp and buttocks. It can also cause changes to the lining of the small intestine similar to that of Celiac disease. However, it may not produce noticeable digestive symptoms. This disease is treated with a gluten-free diet, in addition to medication to control the rash.”

My point here is this: gluten-free is a personal decision that should be explored with your doctor. And there is no reason to not include it as an option if you, like me, have decided to get healthy and get fit. My belief is that while going gluten-free for the non-Celiac sufferer may not be crucial to their health, most will see a marked difference in the way they feel, all to the better.

Lastly, as I say all the time, “Living gluten-free does not mean you have to live taste-free.” Right now I’m working on a new gluten-free cookbook that should be out soon with lots of delicious dishes that are good for you, gluten-free and easy to make. But you don’t have to wait for the book, check out the gluten-free section of the Recipes page for great dishes you can make for your family.

Cheers and Good Eating,