According to the 20/20 program from ABC News, over 100 million people a year are on a diet. $20 billion is spent on programs, books, and drugs. The cost of Bariatric surgeries, all 220,000 of them, are also included in that number. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention report that in 2007-2008, over 34% of adults age 20 years or older were overweight and an additional 33% were obese. The numbers for children ages 6-19 show an obesity rate of over 18%.
These stats show that the problem of weight control is a serious and important one. I am one of those numbers above. Over the years, I had floated at various points on the “obese” scale. I have tried all sorts of diets; Atkins, South Beach, Protein Power, to name a few. I would get some results, and then, like clockwork, lose my motivation and go right back to 245 pounds. I am now just over 200, which puts me right in the middle of the overweight category. 40 down, 25 to go and I will actually be at a healthy weight (for the first time in over 25 years.)
Making the decision to eat gluten free was what started me on this weight loss journey. The 15 months I have been without gluten has certainly helped me lose the weight and keep it off. But it is not the sole reason for it. Eliminating gluten is not a magic bullet. The key has been something much more and it is something that anyone can use, regardless of whether they are forced to remove gluten from their diet for medical reasons. I just started eating “real food“.
Another thing I should point out is that I actually gained weight when I “transitioned” over to GF packaged foods. While premade gluten free foods are light years ahead of their cardboard tasting predecessors, they are still full of unhealthy fats and loads of sugar. Many also lack needed vitamins, minerals and fiber. If you can’t eat gluten and there isn’t fresh food available, or you are still making the transition, by all means eat the GF packaged foods. But keep working towards eating real food. Once I switched off of packaged food and sugar, the weight came off.
There is a lot of consternation in the “gluten free community” about people, especially celebrities, that declare they are eating gluten free to lose weight. “Oh, no,” we groan, “not another one.” Our quite serious medical conditions, like celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, are reduced to the equivalent of whatever wacky cookie/juice/”17 small meals a day” diets are the latest fad. I have been one of those criticising these bandwagonesque “Miley come latelys” along with the others online.
But when I think about all that I have learned in the last year or so; about how the body works, the intricate chemical reactions that occur when we eat and the ubiquity of processed foods (even among gluten free people); I can’t help but have a change of heart. Someone, famous or not, does some reading and decides that gluten might not be good for them. Does it matter if they are just trying to lose weight? Losing weight means getting to healthy. What if your weight is fine, but you think gluten is not good for you? Then don’t eat it. These kind of decisions are made all the time by people who eat meat, are vegans or only eat raw food.
There is some thinking that regardless of whether you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance/sensitivity, the quantity of gluten we eat isn’t healthy. Others dispute this. Kim and I have made a choice not to eat gluten. And, you know, if I found out tomorrow that my sensitivity was caused by something reversible and I could eat gluten again, I wouldn’t do it. As much as I dream about a “real pizza”, I simply feel better now. Why would I want to screw that up?
If you are new to gluten free, please check out our post with great resources for gluten free newcomers.
Note: I really wanted to call this entry “Leave Miley Alone!” but (wisely) decided not to.