As I was walking through Whole Foods the other day (which you all know about because I posted a tweet asking how to get rid of petroleum wax on my food), I noticed there were an awful lot of new products on the market talking about being gluten-free, vegan, no salt, no sugar, no fat, etc. The thing that came into my mind was a curiosity to know how many of these products were getting into the hands of people who don't really understand them.
What I mean is, and I'm not trying to be a jerk at all, are people buying these products thinking that they are going to eat something that will help with their diet; you know, will it help them to lose weight. Funny thing is, this came into my mind because that's what I was doing. I was buying things that said gluten-free or vegan BECAUSE they were gluten-free or vegan. I thought they were “healthier” and therefore would help me lose weight - or at the very least maintain my weight.
As someone who has struggled her whole life with weight issues, I'm always looking for something to help me lose weight. That's why I started eating raw food, and probably why this question popped into my head. I wondered if other people were doing what I was doing: buying things I would never normally buy because it exaggerated and implied benefits that didn't exist in a product based on their posted claims.
I believe that the influx of desserts, cupcakes, muffins, scones, pizzas, cookies, and ice creams that are being touted as being “healthier” in one way or another are confusing us into believing that because they're healthier, they will help us to lose weight or help us GAIN health. I found myself getting a lot of gluten-free products - products I would never normally have eaten before - simply because they were gluten-free, and to me that meant they should be healthier and thereby add to my health and/or make me skinnier.
This is definitely not necessarily the case. Once I realized what I was doing I cut out most of these excess products, and in fact it was then that I lost the weight.
So I thought we should break this down one fabulous healthy/skinny claim at a time:
Less Sugar or Sugar-free – Less sugar means that they most likely add more fat for taste. Or they add a chemical sugar substitute. Both, in my book, are not good.
Less Fat - Let's put the worst fat into a product! The type of fats in a low fat product are important. It's not that they have no fat, it’s that they take out the better unsaturated fats and leave in the saturated and trans fats. (Udo Erasmus' book, ‘Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill’ is helpful here if you need more explanation about fats.)
Gluten-free - Gluten-free just means that they may have the same sugar and fats as a regular product but they're not using wheat flour, which is deemed to have a higher amount of gluten now than ever before in history. What I mean by this is that the wheat flour has been hybridized and modified. During this modification process, the wheat has been altered so that the wheat that we are eating now is not the same wheat that they were eating, say, in the Bible. So instead of wheat, they're putting in potato flour, tapioca, rice, or almond flour. Gluten- free muffins, gluten-free scones, and gluten-free cakes and cookies are all still desserts - it's just that wheat has been traded out for those people who react negatively in some way to gluten. And I don't just mean those with Celiac Disease. My sinuses react terribly to gluten!
Anyway, these are just a few of the ways these “healthier” snack foods have tricked my mind into believing that now I can have a muffin or a cookie because it's a “healthier” option!
But whose fault is that? Nobody but mine! I wanted a cookie, I wanted a muffin, and I didn't want to think. Foolish me! But now I'm wiser and I just buy raw cookies and cakes! By telling you this, I hope I just blocked the opening to that pit I fell into by imparting a little education and a little marketing sense.
One More Thing: The other day the news was reporting about an article in the newspaper where the journalist was saying that she didn't lose weight on the gluten-free "diet." “Gluten-free Diet” is a misnomer – it's not a diet in the sense that you lose weight, it's a diet in the sense that you cut gluten out. Since just about everybody has some form of gluten allergy or another (I had sinus infections, my sister had hip pain, and my girlfriend Holly has Celiac Disease), the gluten-free diet is a diet cutting out gluten. But I could imagine you would gain a lot of weight on the gluten-free diet if you ate all the things that were gluten-free thinking that they would help you lose weight. There are scones, cookies, cakes, pizzas, and all kinds of delicious but fattening things that are gluten-free. Just because there's no gluten in them does not mean that they are not fattening.
One last thing, just my own note: if you're going to start a diet, if you're going to try and lose weight, please research the diet first to make sure that this diet will help you to achieve your goals. A gluten-free diet is for cutting down on inflammatory gluten. Raw is a health diet. It maintains a strong immune system. If you don't have a strong system it will bring one back, and in the process you will lose weight.
The vegan diet is just cutting out animal products like honey, meat, and dairy (which includes yogurt, butter, cream, milk, cheese, etc.) The raw vegan diet cuts out cooked food as well as animal products: this is really supposed to boost your immune system. There is controversy, however, over whether or not vegan is proper for people who have meat eaters in their history – in other words, if their ancestors ate meat.
So you can see why it is so important to study each of these diets to decide which one will help you to achieve your goals.