Celiac Disease / Uncategorized

So This is Why Gluten-Free Makes You Fat

Hint: It’s My Fault

Aside from celebrities, most people who have to go on the gluten-free diet actually gain weight. I say most people, because if you’re one of those who give up gluten and also give up gluten substitutes (see: Cyrus, Miley), you’re probably going to drop a few pounds. That, my friends, is called the Atkins Diet. But if you’re like me, and the only thing you can think about when told you can no longer eat delicious gluten is “I need CAKE,” then you’re probably going to reach for another grain to create that cake. And if you want a delicious substitute, you’re probably looking at rice and corn flours and starches galore.

As with all things in life, delicious = bad for you. But who are we kidding? Wheat flour is super bad for you if you’re Celiac or intolerant, and rice flour is better. But in the weight gain, calorie-counting world, it’s actually worse. I try to avoid that world, but it has an annoying way of sneaking up and biting you in your jiggly ass. The Sneaky Chef lady laid it all out for us with her slide show so you can see how your gluten-free hamburger bun, pasta, and even English muffin are packing way more calories and fat than the wheat versions. Warning: This slide show may make you cry.

Gluten-free processed flours are way more calorie and fat laden than wheat. So maybe don’t eat that unless you want to bulk up. However. When you’re told that you have to eliminate something from your diet, your first reaction usually isn’t, “Great! So what else can I cut out?” I, for one, am continually in search of how to most closely mimic that gluten that I used to enjoy so much. Do you see that picture of gluten-free chicken fingers and mac and cheese? Are you holding yourself back from the Velveeta just thinking about this? Did I just give away much too much of my inner fantasy life? The sad fact is, you’re not going to get that super yum taste by using a low-fat soy flour to make your cookies.

Listen, I know that I can’t eat gluten-free desserts and fried food every day and expect to maintain that super skinny gluten-eating body that also, incidentally, made me think I was dying of cancer. I know that whole foods that are naturally gluten-free are the healthiest things to eat — probably for those gluten lovers as well.

Until then, I’m just going to have to pretend I don’t hear people talking about how they’re in such great shape since going gluten-free. And resist the urge to shove a gluten-free muffin in that yapper.

Did you give up all carbs when you gave up gluten? So, you’re skinny now, right?

21 thoughts on “So This is Why Gluten-Free Makes You Fat

  1. I sorta did. I was diagnosed back in 2000 before the boom of all these gluten free products galore, but I didn’t live anywhere near a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. (I don’t think TJ’s even was in my state at the time). We had a little mom and pop health food store that sold soy flour and other weird gluten free stuff that would possibly be contaminated.

    So I ate white rice (terrible, I know, but I was young and naive and didn’t know that brown rice was good for me) and baked chicken breast. And I think bananas. For months. I lost 30 pounds like that.

    Then I got a job in a candy store and discovered that all of our chocolate was gluten free and gained about 50 pounds over the course of 3 years.

    I’ve yo-yo’ed back and forth for the past 12 years. The biggest issue was when I started my blog and GF companies would send me goodies and wanted me to review their products. That did not help and only led me to get an even bigger sweet/carb tooth.

  2. I ended up giving up many processed carbs except dark chocolate bars. and yes, I have lost 30 lbs or so in total over the last 4 years. I don’t know if it will stay that way and with chemo coming up, I am told that I may just have to eat whatever I can hold down… rice noodles it is!

  3. As I’ve been kvetching about for 6 months: I had to give up gluten, nobody said sugar and fat. I replace all gluten-type of foods with things like cakes (didn’t eat before) and deluxe raw mixed nuts (did eat before but not 30oz a week–srsly and that’s cos the TIN only holds 30oz).

    So, yeah. Oh! And when you have multiple autoimmune diseases, you start having to limit citrus, nightshades (read: EVERYTHING WORTH EATING), raw veg…Find what you can eat and FRY IT. Mmm. Tasty. I’m slowly but surely working off that layer of blubber that I added in my first couple of months, alone.

    I’m also finding as I go that OTHER starches (tapioca? SAY IT AIN’T SO-CA, amaranth, etc. f me up). I still find that (ahem) when cc’d, gluten-free rice chex and raw almonds are about my only friend (and boiled eggs). If I only ate those things, I’d probably cut some more fat, too.

    I’ve been reintroducing raw veg and upon promising results, overdid it. I’m hurtin for certain this week due to: cauliflower. Oh, it’s like a cottony-flower? IT’S VICIOUS (if you have multiple autoimmune issues and aren’t playing the celebrity, “look at my new thing” game). I had carrots today. We’ll see.

  4. I love this post. I’ve struggled with my weight since I had surgery on my left leg in 2000. I was a size 0-1 and ballooned up to 16. Now, I’m a size 10 at 144 lbs. I was 160. Going gluten free totally made me gain weight for the reasons you listed above. I’m debating whether or not to give up dairy…my heart aches because I love milk, cheese, sour cream and cereal. I’m also looking into giving up some or all carbs. I just have to get rid of this weight and I have to get healthier. It’s a very difficult choice to make, it shouldn’t be, but it is. It took forever to get used to Gluten Free….well, maybe I should just quit whining and go for it. LOL I’ll lose my jiggly ass and my boobs but it’ll be worth it!

  5. My problem is more than just rice flour is worse than whole wheat flour. I used to be amazing at portion control – I could totally have one cookie and put the package away. Now it’s like ‘COOOKIES!!! MUST EAT THEM ALL BECAUSE I CAN’T HAVE COOKIES!!!!!’ I found some random vitamin shop in Lakewood that sold Kinnickinnick donuts, and told my boyfriend I had to buy them because they would not carry them anymore if I didn’t buy them. I NEVER would have done that before. I think I might actually eat more cakes/cookies/pastry things now than I did pre-Celiac diagnosis because I buy everything I see like I won’t ever see them again. Basically, I’ve turned into Cookie Monster with a gluten-free hoarding problem.

    • Erin. That’s TOTALLY what happens to me too. I literally will see something that’s gluten-free and eat it. Because it’s gluten-free. Surely this crazy will pass.

      But yeah, I guess in the meantime I should focus on replacing gluten-free donuts with broccoli. Hahahahahahaha. I crack myself up.

  6. I have been eating pretty clean lately and I find that I miss carbs/processed foods a lot less. I still have some carbs.. mainly GF oats {which don’t bother me} and I have gf bread and pasta mayyyybe once a week each. Since I’ve been eating clean, I’ve been losing weight which is REALLY hard for me due to my autoimmune disease. I’ve lost about 7 lbs in the last 2 weeks which is unheard of for me!

  7. You just have to eat foods with a low glycemic index. Eating completely low-carb isn’t a bad idea either, there’s tons of evidence out there to support the notion that we as a country just eat way too much carbs in general. No need to replace them just because we have an incessant craving for them, eating less carbs, eating more satisfactory meals with higher protein and fat content can keep you going for a whole day.

    There’s a good explanation here as to why we should eat less refined carbs anyway. I made a quick transition by simply avoiding all unnatural forms of sugar. I no longer had that afternoon lull I’d get after lunchtime because I eat hardboiled eggs and vegetables for lunch. The only sweets I eat now are fruits, and even then I eat them sparingly.

    So while it can be hard to lower the carbs, everything else we want in life is just going to be hard too, like losing weight or getting a promotion at work. But the benefits and the satisfaction of the accomplishment make it more worthwhile! šŸ™‚

  8. Ok, so my gastroenterologist put it like this.

    After giving up Gluten : Fat people lose weight because they eat heaps less carbs (which is why they were fat in the first place), skinny people put on weight because now their bodies absorb the nutrients.


    So there, the scientific answer. His words people, not mine!

  9. For whatever reason, my body gains weight like crazy on gluten, and loses it when I’m gluten free (although I had to drop all grains, so I’m sure that helps). It doesn’t seem to have much to do with my activity level or anything either. Very strange, but it’s been a really welcome change!

    I lost about 50 pounds in 6 months after I went gluten free. But any time I’ve gotten gluten contamination, I balloon. I’ll gain like 10 pounds in the course of a week. It doesn’t seem to be water, because it take a few weeks to go away and I’m not bloated. Just crazy weight gain with this stuff.

    But when I don’t get glutened, eating a lot of meat and a lot of fats, I still seem to stay pretty skinny. I’m hoping that continues and doesn’t change the longer I stay gluten free! I had to work really hard before not to gain weight to much, I figure I’d like at least one good thing to come out this diet, right? šŸ˜‰

  10. I love this!!! I appreciate you pointing to that awesome slide show on Huff Post as well!

    After I was diagnosed I had to start watching what I was eating. I gained about ~30 pounds but I needed to gain 30 pds. I was 5 ’10 and weighed about 115 pounds when I was finally diagnosed. READ: I was a skeleton.

    What we really need is a shift in the gluten free industry to focus on higher quality grains like the new breads Udi’s recently introduced that have 5-7g of fiber in them. Using Flax, Millet and other grains are the key.

    Its been daunting during my pregnancy to get the right things into my body. I was a good eater before – now I am excellent. I have had to return to how I ate when I was first diagnosed and there were little gluten free pre-packaged foods available.

    • If I had to go gluten-free during pregnancy I honestly don’t know what I would do. I’m lucky I was diagnosed after both of my babies were all done baking. And yeah, I lost too much weight too so some weight gain is a-okay. But phhhhhhhhhpt.

  11. About 6 months after being diagnosed with my food allergies (which don’t specifically include gluten, but do include wheat, corn, oats, barley, nightshades, mold and yeast, anything in the ragweed family – like chamomile and iceberg lettuce, carrots, celery, cucumber, shrimp and walnuts), we went Paleo. It’s supposed to mimic a pre-agricultural diet, and excludes all grains, dairy and legumes. We both lost weight, but more importantly lost inches around our waists. Since our impoverishment, we’ve had to become somewhat lenient about the rules – legumes provide filling protein for pennies on the dollar compared with meat. That said, the diet is essentially common sense: 1/2 plate of leafy stuff, 1/4 plate starchy stuff, 1/4 plate lean protein.

  12. I have managed to lose a bit of weight since going gluten free. I have given up most grains, which means you also give up all the substitutes along the way. Occasionally I may have gf mac and cheese, or I will make a grain free bread or cookies, but that is usually more work that I’m willing to do. I have become a meat and veggie eater for the most part.

  13. I lost about 20lbs during the first 3 months of going Gluten Free. I guess it all depends on what you replace the gluten with. For me, GF Pasta and Cornflakes we’re the main alternatives.

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