Gluten-free diet is all the rage now. Gwyneth Paltrow has been raving about it for the longest time. She even posts gluten-free recipes on her website, Goop.com. Chelsea Clinton ordered a gluten-free cake for her wedding. Jennifer Aniston and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham are on it too.
What is it about gluten-free diet? Why is it suddenly the “it” diet?
It used to be a special diet for people with celiac disease, as they are allergic to food with gluten, a protein usually found in wheat, barley, and rye. But that isn’t the case anymore. More and more people (who are celiac disease-free) are now jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon, even though gluten is so hard to avoid. It is present in breads and pastas, and is often used as a thickening agent in processed foods like ketchup and ice cream.
Proof of that is in the growing competition in gluten-free products. There are now a number of online direct sellers of gluten-free food, restaurants and bake shops that specialize in them, and even supermarkets are recognizing the potential of the market.
“When we went into Sainsbury’s we were the only gluten-free product on the shelves,” Chris Hook, founder of Nutrition Point, told The Telegraph. “Now our biggest challenge is getting shelf space. It’s the incredible growth of own-label gluten-free products. It’s getting harder and harder to get listings.”
That celebrities are endorsing it is definitely giving it a boost in popularity, but there is no concrete proof that it can lead to weight loss. There are claims though that going gluten-free can make you feel extra energetic.
“I feel better when I don’t do it. If I go out to a restaurant with friends and I have a beer and a plate of pasta I’m going to feel it the next day. No one wants a gluten hangover,” Silvana Nardone, former editor-in-chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine and author of “Cooking for Isaiah,” a cookbook of gluten and dairy-free recipes, told the Associated Press.
It may be that people who follow a gluten-free diet eat more organic and fresh produce, so they have a healthier diet in general, said Dee Sandquist of the American Dietetic Association.
“G-free” is a relatively new diet though, and at most, it can be considered a fad at this point. There are, however, diet and weight loss programs that have been tried and tested over the years, and have been proven to work. Here are a few diets that work, according to health experts consulted by Forbes.com.
With an emphasis on avoiding processed food, those containing trans-fat,and food with artificial flavors and sweeteners, this diet consists mainly of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Organic foods are free of pesticides,preservatives, sugar, and were prepared or cultivated humanely. It is easily one of the most popular diets around, as seen by the explosion of companies like Whole Foods in the U.S., which earns billions of dollars annually.
2. Raw food
Ever wonder how most Japanese keep a trim figure and live long? Because they eat a lot of sushi? Probably. Heating food over 41 degrees Celsius is believed to destroy food’s natural enzymes and nutrients. Examples of raw foods that are healthy to eat are sushi, of course, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seared fish and meat.
3. The Sonoma Diet
This diet focuses on ten “power foods” – almonds, bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, grapes, olive oil, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes and whole grains. It is inspired by the cuisine of the Sonoma wine country, which is a combination of Asian, Latin American, and Mediterranean cuisine. According to Connie Guttersen, author of the best- selling book The Sonoma Diet, it is all about enjoying food so it’s easy to stay motivated and stick with it.
4. Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers, the weight loss giant, has expanded to essentially become a support group for people who want to lose weight and get healthy. They offer two plans: a Flex plan lets a client eat whatever he wants but controls portions by employing a point system; a Core plan consists only of nutritious food but does not limit portions.
5. Glycemic Index
Also known as the GI Diet, it is a plan often preferred by diabetics because it promotes the consumption of low GI carbohydrates to keep blood sugar levels steady. The menu includes certain fruits and vegetables, oats, barley, bran, basmati rice, some pasta, chick peas, plain yogurt, and skim milk.
6. Macrobiotic Diet
Essentially a low-fat, high-fiber diet, it consists mainly of whole grains and vegetables – brown rice, soy bean products, beans, fruits and vegetables in season, seeds and nuts and fish taken in moderation. Its emphasis on physical and spiritual well-being makes it a popular choice.
7. The South Beach Diet
The plan starts with a combination of lean protein, a minimal amount of carbohydrates, and essential vegetables. After two weeks, more complex carbohydrates, such as bread and chocolates, is added to the diet. Its success, according to the author of the New York Times best seller, is due to the fact that if follows a very basic principle: “Eat good fats, nutrients and protein, and exercise.”