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4 Mistakes that halt gluten-free diet success

Atlanta-based Gigi Stewart is a science-backed Southern Belle with B.S. and M.A. degrees, including a degree in Behavioral Neuroscience with specialties in chronic inflammatory pain and natural products research.

Gigi’s unique fact-based...

The truth is, many gluten-free products on the market today are less healthy than their gluten-full counterparts.

Whether you have celiac disease or another gluten-related health issue that makes a gluten-free diet a necessity, or you simply want to give the diet a whirl to see if you reap the much-touted digestive and weight loss benefits of bidding gluten farewell, there are a few pitfalls that can stand in the way of your success. To make the most of your gluten-free diet and to give yourself the best opportunity for success, check out these four mistakes that can stop you in your gluten-free tracks.

woman with icecream

Photo credit: Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images

Mistake #1: Confusing "gluten-free" with "healthy"

According to current market research, one in four consumers believe a gluten-free diet is better for them than a traditional diet containing gluten. This belief is no doubt fueled by anti-gluten books like Wheat Belly and Grain Brain, not to mention media and celebrity hype about health benefits and weight loss effects of going gluten-free.

While a diet consisting of naturally gluten-free foods can certainly be healthy, the truth is many gluten-free products on the market today are less healthy than their gluten-full counterparts.

That’s because food manufacturers tend to add more sugar and fat to gluten-free foods in an effort to make up for the missing gluten and create palatable products consumers will buy again.

Remember, just because the label says "gluten-free" doesn’t mean it is a sound choice from a nutritional perspective. Read the label and ingredients list. If the first few ingredients are sugar and starches like rice flour, tapioca and potato starch you may want to rethink your choice.

Mistake #2: Thinking inside the (gluten-free) box

Supermarket shelves are exploding with gluten-free goods these days, with more flooding the market all the time. This makes it is easy for consumers to grab boxed foods like cookies and crackers, or pre-packaged mixes for gluten-free cakes and brownies.

In some cases, people who adopt a gluten-free lifestyle end up eating more processed foods than before going gluten-free due to the growing number of convenience items available.

While it is fun to try new gluten-free foods if you're on a restricted diet, it is not fun to increase your weight because you over-consume sugary processed foods.

Keep the processed foods to a minimum and have treats occasionally and in moderation.

Mistake #3: Substituting every regular gluten-containing food you used to eat with its gluten-free counterpart

If you are accustomed to a sandwich for lunch every day, and you are suddenly faced with a diagnosis of celiac disease, the immediate "fix" is to buy a loaf of gluten-free bread and carry on per usual. However, substituting every single food with a gluten-free alternative may have negative effects on your health and your weight.

If you're having a gluten-free muffin for breakfast, a sandwich on gluten-free bread at lunch and pre-packaged gluten-free snacks during the day, then more bread with dinner and a few of those gluten-free cookies for dessert, your sugar and calorie load will pile up quickly.

Instead of making a direct substitution with processed foods, try a gluten-free whole grain breakfast cereal with fruit for breakfast, a hearty salad with lean protein like grilled chicken and healthy fat like avocado for lunch and snack on fresh berries or nut/seed butters. For dinner, enjoy roasted vegetables, a protein and keep dessert to a reasonable portion. Your body will benefit, inside and out.

Mistake #4: Overlooking sources of hidden gluten in common foods

Gluten is sneaky and it can be found in products like soy sauce, some canned soups, certain salad dressings and even in some deli meats.

Ferreting out hidden sources of gluten is essential to success on your gluten-free diet, especially if you have celiac disease, since even a miniscule amount of gluten causes damage to the body. Careful label reading is key to ensure gluten is not getting in.

By avoiding these mistakes, you can easily achieve success on your gluten-free diet. For more tips and strategies on how to live your best life, gluten-free, be sure to visit GlutenFreeGigi.com for free resources, recipes and more.

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