Approximately 3 million US citizens suffer from celiac disease– an autoimmune illness in which a person's body responds to a particular mixture of rye, barley, and wheat. Interestingly the absence of gluten not only is key to the proper treatment of celiac patients, but it has also been linked to weight loss and healthy living.

Elements

A gluten-free diet is one completely absent of wheat, rye, and barley. More specifically cakes, cookies, bread, pasta, pizza, and most cereals are generally made with traditional wheat or white flour and are completely off-limits. Aside of the more common sources, this substance has a way of finding itself in other commonly used products. Soups, salad dressing, pre-made processed frozen meals, and some pasta sauces are also food products that contain gluten and should be avoided.

Importance

The interest in gluten-free product by far surpasses the 1% of Americans diagnosed with celiac disease. At one point, such a diet meant having to give up your favorite foods like beer, cookies, and pizza. Interestingly enough between 2003 and 2008 the number of gluten-free products jumped nearly eight-fold. And if history is any indicator of things to come, you can expect a continuous rise in the use of this product.

Benefits

Although significant, inexplicable weight loss is a common symptom of celiac disease. Most patients intolerant of gluten tend to suffer from bloating, weight gain, and stomach distension. Patients generally see a decrease in these types of symptoms after switching over and end up losing massive amounts of weight. A diet free of gluten is one free of refined simple sugars and flour and one that serves to benefit you in a number of ways. Many people experience weight loss and higher energy levels as a result of switching to a gluten-free diet.

Myths

Some people who switch over to a gluten-free diet seek out specially made crackers and baked goods to replace the ones containing gluten. Although a solid choice in moderation, these types of food generally contain lots of calories. As a matter of fact, some gluten-free products contain more calories than their counterparts because of the added sugars which act as a substitute from flours and starches. Word to the wise, a label claiming to be gluten-free does not need to mean that it is low in calories of even healthy.

Meal Plans

Gluten-free meals can be incorporated in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some of the most common breakfast options include scrambled eggs or quinoa prepared like oatmeal with fresh fruit, milk, and your favorite nuts. For lunch consider a green salad, shrimp, chicken or beef, beans, and cut up eggs. To top off your day, brown rice served with grilled fish and fresh vegetables is an excellent option for dinner. To break the monotony and add some variety to you daily diet, snacking on some low-fat cheese, gluten-free yogurt, or fresh fruit will really satisfy your urge for something unique.

Plan

If by doctor's order, you have been authorized to live a gluten-free lifestyle it is important that you stick to it. For those following a gluten-free diet for weight loss purposes you must still incorporate sound nutritional practices into your diet. Substituting unhealthy refined grains, sugary snacks, and fatty meats with gluten-free whole grains like quinoa and brown rice, fresh produce, and lean meats will definitely help you to lose weight. Additionally, as with any diet, portion sizes should still remain a focus of yours. Remember that many of gluten-free products contain sugar substitutes for gluten and are quite high in calories.