Is Going Gluten-Free the New Anorexia?

Say What!? 13

gluten-freeThere has been a recent boom in the gluten-free market, and much of it has to do with an increase in gluten sensitivity and diagnoses of celiac disease. And it's great that stores are offering more of a selection of foods for people with those conditions.

But recently, doctors have been noticing a rise in the number of people going gluten-free as a lifestyle choice -- namely, to lose weight, much like the reasons some decide to stop eating carbs.

Medically, it’s not really a huge deal because gluten isn't something our bodies need to thrive. I equate it to becoming a vegetarian, because we don't need animal flesh, either -- just the protein it provides. The issue lies within the reasoning behind the gluten-free lifestyle; people are going gluten-free to get thin.

This may not sound very serious at first. Back in the '80s and early '90s, there were a whole lot of people who chose to go vegetarian for the very same reason. And then later in the '90s, there was a boom in people jumping on the carb-free bandwagon. I was a vegetarian for 10 years between 1987 and 1998. I was also a bulimarexic during that same time frame.

I didn't become a vegetarian to lose weight, but it was a convenient excuse to use to hide my bulimarexia. Being a vegetarian didn't cause me to become a bulimarexic, but it was a good gateway drug to full-on food restriction.

People are worried that there may be a correlation between making the choice to go gluten-free when not medically necessary and eating disorders. From my personal experience, I’d say that one doesn't cause the other but voluntarily practicing a restricting lifestyle with no ethical or moral basis should be a red flag.

For anyone who has ever seriously limited what they eat, you know it's a runaway train. It is almost an addiction in and of itself. There is a satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have the willpower and the power over your body to change yourself by simply making the choice to restrict. It’s a rush.

We've all been on diets where we've had to watch what we ate. Eat more of this. Eat none of that. This has to be eaten before 6 p.m. That can’t be eaten at all. Run around the block three times and call me Sally. Diets are ridiculous and dangerous. If you want to lose weight the healthy way, there has to be a complete lifestyle change, more activity, fewer foods that are bad for you, and everything allowed in moderation.

If you don't need to give up a food for health reasons, I say don’t do it. Because once you start down that restricting road, it quickly becomes a slippery slope, and before you know it, you are living on a glass of water and half an apple and, in your mind, that is too much food to be eating in one sitting.

I know gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are on the rise. But I also believe that people will do just about anything to look and feel beautiful in a society that values physical beauty above all else. And that is where the problem lies.

Would you go gluten-free to lose weight?


Image via Whatsername/Flickr

weight loss, diets, eating disorders


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Histo... HistoryMamaX3

I had to pick myself up from the floor... I laughed so hard.

Now, to the "serious" question at hand- ANY extreme change in eating habits could be a bad thing.

I am gluten-free for health reasons, and once I figured out how to eat healthy for my body and my needs- it was/is no big deal. I went through a phase where I tried to 'replace' all the things I was told I couldn't have, and actually gained weight. However, once I learned to eat right and let go of the desire to have what wasn't good for me I have been fine.

Now, going gluten free does not mean you are going to lose weight. In fact, most of what is used to substitute wheat flour is rice and corn- neither are overly good for you and can pack on the pounds. Also, many bean based flours are unpleasant and require more sugars to make them taste better. They are not a health food.


People that don't understand the need or understand what they are putting into their bodies, are asking for trouble. And articles such as this do nothing to help bring awareness to the problems/benefits and bring education to the forefront of the issue. It will probably just sell a few more lost souls into thinking they could lose weight by jumpin' on the breadless bandwagon.

SuzyB... SuzyBarno

Why are you laughing historymamax3? I actually have seen a correlation between restrictive diets and eating disorders. I was once an anorexic and my friend was an exercise bulimic. Now that we are 10 years down the road and are not "sick" anymore, I beg to differ when it comes to my friend. She will all of a sudden jump on the vegan bandwagon so that she can refuse food at restaurants and other public places. I see right thru her, but she gets some satisfaction because she thinks she fooled all of us and that "she will just wait till she gets

Home to eat". Ya, right!

sweet... sweetcherry_59

I know that I laughed at this :

Eat more of this. Eat none of that. This has to be eaten before 6 p.m. That can’t be eaten at all. Run around the block three times and call me Sally.


Histo... HistoryMamaX3

Suzy- The article here is laudable because there is plenty of actual RESEARCH that shows that a gluten-free lifestyle does not cause a person to lose weight. None of that was offered here... just some personal opinion. Going gluten free is far more complex than giving up carbs or abstaining from bread. The Stir writers do not often think about the consequences of their actions here... instead of actually dispelling the myth that she is discussing- she provides a plan for those that might be looking for it. If you are looking for a diet that will help you lose weight, or suffer from an eating illness- you are going to naturally dismiss the warnings (you hear warnings every day!) all you get from this article is that people are doing it and PRESTO you get a whole new member to the gluten-free diet craziness.

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

Here's some actual fact that should have been added- People who lose weight while going gluten-free do so in 3 typical ways: 1. Their stomachs are swollen and bloated due to the ill effects of gluten to their systems and this subsides when their stomach heal up. Minimal weight loss. (More often, people with these issues are actually underweight because of the illness and their body's inability to pull vitamins and minerals from the food they eat, thus when they become healthy- they GAIN weight.) 2. People don't know how to eat, so they stop eating... dangerous. No matter who you are, that pretty much sucks and you need help. 3. The person begins to feel healthy and is able to absorb necessary vitamins and minerals their body so desperately needed, thus they can start being more active! Exercise and a healthy diet = weight loss.

butte... butterflyfreak

Not to mention the fact that there are far more health reasons than losing weight or controlling your celiac disease to the gluten-free thing. People who suffer from MS, diabetes, heart problems, fibromyalgia, exzema (and the list goes on and on) have found relief from, and even a reversal of, their symptoms when they adopt a gluten-free lifestyle. You laugh, but Google Terry Wahl and you'll fid a Dr, who was in a wheelchair from MS and now is up and mobile and rides her bike everywhere. That's just ONE person, but you'll find many other stories out there, especially if you google Primal or Paleo diet, which is a diet based primarily on vegetables and meat, with fruit and nuts in moderation and very little or no dairy and absolutely NO grains of any kind.

cleig... cleigh717

Remember that the stir writers r bloggers. This is an opinion piece. Most of them r saturated with personal opinion. If you want information or something more informative go to a different site. Obviously the writer feels eating disorder awareness is more pressing than gluten free awareness @ the moment for whatever reason. The title did give the piece away. Don't read it if u don't like it.

SuzyB... SuzyBarno

I think the point the blogger is trying to make in the article is that a lot of times people with eating disorders have a mask for their disorder. Some people become "gluten free", some people are "vegan", some "vegetarian". It's easy to disguise a disorder by saying these things.

adrin... adriness666

I totally agree because during my restrictive years I would lie and say that I was lactose intolerant just to cover up the reason for which I wouldn't eat certain foods. Those with an eating disorder or who have had a past of it know that these diets such as vegetarian, gluten free, etc don't promise weight loss. However they know that by using one of these diets as an excuse will allow people to back off a little. Therefore they can continue their ways.

Karla Stamps

I tried eating gluten-free after years of chronic digestive problems and it helped in many, many ways. I can make many dishes like macaroni & cheese & spaghetti & pancakes, that are gluten-free, but hardly "diet" food.

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