So continuing with our theme to CUT THE CRAP. This week we are talking about the Free From market.
When a friend of mine’s daughter tested positive for celiac disease, a year and a half later her mother had highlighted another problem, her poor digestive conditions. She was taken to a specialist clinic for an endoscopy and her diet was quickly changed. While the girl’s gluten-free diet was relatively easy to follow – at least when she was at home – and her condition improved significantly, one thing her mother hadn’t legislated for was the low nutrient content and the excessive levels of fat, sugar and salt in the Free From products she’d bought. This is a common problem many people can overlook.
Gluten is wheat or cereal protein, which can create skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal problems for those who are even mildly intolerant to it. One of these nasty little problems, Celiac disease, is an autoimmune condition which occurs as a result of eating gluten and often damages the small intestine. About 1% of the population are thought to have this complaint which happens to excite the food and drink industry very much. Why? Well because the global gluten-free market is thought to be worth around £2.3bn at the moment and 10% of all product launches worldwide have some Free From claim.
Of course, not all of the people shopping for these products are ‘sick’; even for non-celiacs, gluten-free offers many health benefits and more and more shoppers are choosing Free From items in an effort to bolster their own healthy lifestyles and those of their family. I suspect, however, that like my friend’s daughter, a large number of these shoppers are not fully aware of how unhealthy the other ingredients are in such products.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for finding ways to improve my diet but, seriously, just because a manufacturer slaps a free-this or a free-that label on the packet really doesn’t mean it’s ‘the best thing for us’. The real issue here is actually how the product tastes. If a manufacturer puts a gluten-free brand on the shelf that tastes of sawdust then it’s going to lose consumers by the lorry load. If something is taken out, then most companies resort to cramming something back in to ensure the thing is edible.
This is a minefield for people looking to make the right choices and hunting out healthy, good-tasting, gluten-free food has become something of a poison chalice. Here are four reasons why that is the case:
Some Tips for Success
I read somewhere that over 70% of people are now guided by someone with a food intolerance when eating out so it’s clear the Free From market is here to stay. BUT gluten free and healthy eating are not always comfortable bedfellows; a lot of gluten-free products are demonstrably less-healthy than their less-refined, gluten-filled counterparts.
I recommend these three tips for going gluten-free without unconsciously sabotaging your health:
Keep healthy my friends,
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