Wheat-Free and Other Dietary Philosophies - dummies

Wheat-Free and Other Dietary Philosophies

By Rusty Gregory, Alan Chasen

The following philosophies and diets aren’t followed as widely as the plain wheat-free diet. However, you may already follow one of the plans listed here, so they are included to give you an idea of how a wheat/grain-free lifestyle can work with these specific diets.

Many of these programs have some validity because they reduce or eliminate the sugar and refined carbohydrates that are responsible for weight gain and a major player in chronic illnesses. However, some of these philosophies and diets need a major facelift to meet the high expectations of a wheat/grain-free, low-carb, no-vegetable-oil diet.

Here is a brief description of each practice and noted whether it’s conducive to maintaining good health and weight loss as part of your wheat/grain-free lifestyle:

  • Gluten-free: Eliminating gluten from your diet means one of two things: You’re eating a naturally gluten-free diet of meats, fruits, and vegetables or you’re eating commercial gluten-free foods that have had the gluten removed and starch added.

    The added starch in the latter causes the pancreas to secrete insulin, which escorts the glucose (starch) to fat cells to be stored for later use. Therefore, naturally restricting gluten by eliminating wheat and grains is the way to go.

  • Hormone- and antibiotic-free: Many manufacturers pump animals full of hormones and antibiotics to help beef up the animals (pun intended) before they’re slaughtered and to treat the illnesses they pick up in their poor living conditions.

    Eating products from such animals means you’re consuming larger amounts of omega-6 fatty acids. That’s why following this dietary restriction as part of your wheat/grain-free lifestyle is a good idea.

    Taking a stand against consuming hormone- and antibiotic-treated products also supports humane animal treatment. Cows and chickens are much happier and healthier when raised in their natural surroundings — grazing in a pasture with space to move about and ingesting grass, not corn feed.

  • Anti-inflammatory: Inflammation can strike anywhere in the body, from joints and muscles to various tissues. Research shows that what you eat influences the level of inflammation in your body, with wheat, sugar, and many plant and seed oils being the biggest culprits.

    Eliminating these items greatly reduces inflammation and helps restore the body — and matches very closely to wheat/grain-free recommendations — so incorporating anti-inflammatory principles into your new lifestyle is a good idea.

  • Kosher: Kosher foods are those that meet the strict guidelines of the Jewish dietary law. A kosher diet places restrictions on what kinds of meat, seafood, and dairy you can eat and on eating meat and dairy together. But plenty of foods exist that allow you to maintain a wheat/grain-free kosher diet, so this philosophy is a viable way of living wheat/grain-free.

  • Organic: Foods that are raised organically don’t use pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation, sewage sludge, growth hormones, or antibiotics. This approach ensures healthier living conditions throughout the plant or animal’s life.

    Eating organic is a great way of bettering your health. You can do so with little bearing on your wheat/grain-free diet (you just have to be more watchful of whether your meat, produce, and so on is organic).

  • Sugar-free: Eliminating carbohydrates that are the easiest to digest, such as table sugar, pasta, potatoes, and bread, are at the heart of a sugar-free diet. After this, the debate begins. Your level of sugar sensitivity to fruit, sweet potatoes, dairy products, and any other carbohydrate-rich food dictates the degree to which you can eat these items.

    Part of going wheat/grain-free is eliminating added sugars from your diet, so this philosophy definitely fits with a wheat/grain-free lifestyle.

  • Supplement or the latest food trend: You’ve probably known someone who raved about going on the cabbage soup diet, the grapefruit diet, or some other similar weight-loss plan. The idea that a single supplement or food is the panacea of good health is short-sighted, to say the least.

    No one item leads to optimal health; in fact, hanging your hat on one food to meet all your nutritional needs can be extremely dangerous. Not only does doing so deny your body important nutrients, but it also creates a situation where you never learn how to eat intelligently. Therefore, this philosophy is just no good period; it has no place in a wheat/grain-free lifestyle.