McGrody: Going gluten-free isn’t for the fad dieter

Columnist Brianna McGrody debunks the trend of gluten-free fad diets.

Brianna McGrody

Brianna McGrodyI’m not quite sure why I follow Miley Cyrus or Brad Goreski on Twitter. Or why they insist on posting daily tweets about their food followed by hash tags that emphasize their healthy eating habits.

Cyrus took to Twitter to insist it was a gluten-free diet that made her super fit. She even suggested that everyone should try going gluten-free. And Goreski is no different, posting pictures of gluten-free treats and commenting on the lifestyle.

Is a gluten-free diet an actual healthy diet that will get you Cyrus’ killer abs? Or, is it just another Hollywood trend that will quickly fade away?

It is important to understand exactly what gluten is in order to determine whether the diet is worth trying. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and grain products. It is what allows carbs to have soft, chewy doughy texture. If you take out gluten, you take away its elasticity, making the product stiff. Consuming gluten offers a fair amount of protein and is also low in saturated fat and sodium. If gluten isn’t so bad for you then why is gluten-free such a sudden trend?

Lori Clements, Temple’s registered dietitian, thinks that the trend has developed due to misconceptions.

“I think people think of carbs,” Clements said.

Since gluten is found in wheat products, many celebrities that pick up the trend tend to cut out carbs completely. They do not necessarily go gluten-free. But even cutting out carbs completely won’t necessarily affect your weight in a positive way.

“No carbs can lead to binge eating and wouldn’t affect weight loss,” Clements said.

Taylor Sherlock, a freshman kinesiology major, is uncertain about the gluten-free trend.

“I’m not sure why gluten-free is such a trend, but it could maybe be because it could be healthier,” Sherlock said.

A gluten-free diet can be hard to manage in a healthy way. Clements said a gluten-free diet is low in B vitamins and requires supplements in order to get what your body needs. For instance, if you are going to cut out gluten in bread products, make sure to get your vitamin supplements in other carbs, like rice or potatoes.

Another reason why the trend is big right now is the increase of people with celiac disease and gluten intolerants. Celiac disease is a disease in the small intestine that does not allow certain foods to be absorbed. The disease is caused by eating gluten. Gluten intolerance and gluten allergies can cause different reactions, depending on the person, when gluten is consumed. It’s undetermined why so many people suddenly have the disease but these are the people who should be focused on a gluten-free diet, not those who are attempting to lose weight.

“I would never advise it unless you were diagnosed,” Clements said.

If you are gluten-intolerant or want to test out the trend for yourself, it is easy to find gluten-free food just about anywhere.

Grocery stores like The Fresh Grocer will either have specific aisles set up for gluten-free foods or have them dispersed and labeled throughout.

Many restaurants now offer gluten-free menus and are taking up gluten-free initiatives. If you eat on campus, you can check out the sections in the Johnson & Hardwick cafeteria set up for gluten-free students. There are definitely a ton of options when it comes to eating gluten-free.

If you think you may have a gluten-intolerance, see a doctor. If you want to test the trend yourself, make sure to speak to a dietitian to get the proper education first so you do it in a healthy manner.

Brianna McGrody can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. No, it’s not easy to find gluten-free foods and eat a gluten-free diet. It requires a huge shift in eating habits and eating out becomes nearly impossible. Its one of the stupidest and most misinformed dietary trends I have ever heard about. Using Miley Cyrus as a touchstone for nutritional advice makes about as much sense as her appeal.

    And what’s the point of including this: “I’m not sure why gluten-free is such a trend, but it could maybe be because it could be healthier,” Sherlock said’? It adds nothing to the article at all and seems like lazy reporting. I read it and all I could think was “No shit, Sherlock”.

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