SHOULD YOU BE GLUTEN-FREE?

If you're thinking about adopting a gluten-free diet, make sure you know if it's right for you.

If you’re thinking about adopting a gluten-free diet, make sure you know if it’s right for you.

One health craze that hasn’t seemed to go away is the gluten-free diet. Although it’s a necessity for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, many college-age students are going gluten-free in order to stay healthy or lose weight.

Gluten, which is found in wheat, rye and barley, is pretty much a staple in the typical American diet. Can you image not eating bread or French fries? It’s also found in foods you may not expect, like soup, salad dressing and roasted nuts. However, there’s an increasing number of gluten-free products being stocked on grocery store shelves. Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about going gluten-free:

1. Be cautious

If you don’t have celiac disease, you may want to rethink going gluten-free. Although it’s a trendy form of dieting, cutting gluten completely out of your diet without proper planning can result in a vitamin and mineral deficiency. Going gluten-free can also be expensive, and if you really want to commit, you’ll have to cut out more than bread. It’s a good idea to consult a dietician before making your decision.

2. Read carefully

If you’re going to commit to a gluten-free diet, it’s important to read food labels carefully. Although many manufacturers have begun labeling their products to indicate whether or not they contain gluten, this is not required by the Food and Drug Administration, so proceed with caution. You may also find gluten unlikely products, such as beer and soy sauce, so it’s a good idea to do some research before you make your grocery list.

3. Stick to fresh food

With so many gluten-free alternatives available, it may be tempting to stick to pre-packaged foods. However, some manufacturers add fat or sugar to improve the taste of those products, so if you’re going gluten-free to be healthy, it’s a good idea to fill your diet with fruits and vegetables instead.

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