Eating Natural vs. Eating Gluten Free

I always feel like there are mixed views and opinions when it comes to this topic. Sometimes I feel like people get angry if they are told to limit even gluten-free labeled foods as much as they can. One thing that I do know is that everyone's body is different and that no one body is the same. What may work for you may be sickening and terrible for someone else. For me it's been about trying to find a balance in what I eat on my diet to make me feel best. Hopefully I can express how I feel on this topic but also give you a better idea on what may be better for your health as well.

Eating Gluten Free:
For most of us, eating gluten-free was not a choice. We have to eat gluten-free because of celiac disease or a gluten intolerance which I will admit is not easy. You have to give up burgers, pizza, pasta, just tons of foods that we are all used to eating. For most people eating gluten-free really is all they need to make themselves feel normal and healthy again. It can be the cure to almost all your problems by justbeliminating gluten from your diet. But for others this may not be the complete solution to the problem. Some people don't get 100% better and still do feel somewhat sick each day. If you still find yourself having low energy or GI issues even after you went gluten-free, then that most likely means something is still wrong.

One thing a lot of people argue is that eating the gluten-free products makes them feel like they are eating somewhat "normal" again. I completely agree that I couldn't be more grateful for all the new gluten-free products we have now. But to say that I am glad we have these so I can eat them every day is something I would never do. As much as I love all these products, I can't stand how they are 3 or even 4 times more expensive than the originals. I went through a period of time where honestly all I ate were gluten-free alternatives to the crap I was eating before..and I was not getting better. It was more expensive, less healthier for me, and still made me feel like crap at the end of the day. From personal experience, I found that eating only gluten-free alternatives to products is not a good way to help you recover from Celiac Disease. I obviously think being gluten-free is great for those that do have Celiac Disease and I do think these products are fine every once in a while! But I don't think having them all the time is the right path to fully recovering from Celiac Disease in the end.

Eating Natural:
I personally feel like eating natural is a much better option for most people that are gluten-free for many reasons. I feel like if we go back to what people used to eat before all this processed crap, then we can truly appreciate real food and flavors for what they are! Once you start eating natural, you really learn how to cook gluten-free and explore the many new foods out there. I also have found that since you aren't buying as much of the gluten-free products that are 3 to 4 times more expensive than the originals, you actually save money! Everyone always says how eating gluten-free is so expensive when really it can be made much cheaper if done the right way. Lastly one of my most favorite benefits is that you never have to worry about shared facilities or cross contamination like with a lot of the gluten-free products. Getting accidentally glutened is honestly the only way I find my self getting sick now. Overall I didn't feel well when I ate tons of gluten-free labeled products. I also found myself getting glutened a lot more frequently than I do now. Ever since trying to eat natural foods as often as I can, I have found that getting sick or getting glutened is something I have to worry about much less.

Like all diets or eating habits, people will always find some downsides to things. Although it may seem like eating natural is the easiest and best thing for you to do, it may not be. At first it really does make you miss the gluten-free brownies, cakes, breads and such much more. That all fades away in time but I will admit it's extremely hard. Also, deciding to cut such a large amount of carbohydrates and grains out of your diet could be dangerous. You could actually be making yourself worse by depriving yourself of key vitamins which can eventually cause you to have less energy and serious problems. Before trying to remove gluten-free grains from your diet as much as you can, it is very important you do your research first. I personally found that taking magnesium and B12 supplements can help since these are some of the vitamins grains are very high in. One thing I want to express with eating natural is that it shouldn't be something you dread. It should be something you enjoy! I definitely don't think that eating natural should mean you can never eat a gluten-free cookie or anything like that again. It just takes finding a balance between eating natural and gluten-free foods to make you feel best.

Finding a balance:
Finding a balance between eating both natural and gluten-free foods is most important if you want to try and feel better. Not only do I think it's important from a health stand point, but from an emotional stand point too. To me it seems like that people have become too emotionally attached to their food. Food really is involved in almost every social situation if you think about it. I think that's why so many of us struggle to go gluten-free in the first place since it is such a dramatic lifestyle change, not just with your diet. Finding a balance to make you feel best, mentally and physically, is not an easy thing to do. It can be great to take advice from others and hear their opinions! But trying to follow someone else's diet to make you feel better is something you should not do at all. Like many people say, my celiac is not your celiac, and I really couldn't stress this enough. Earlier this year I tried to follow the Paleo diet and what many others did to make them feel best. I learned the hard way that what worked for someone else definitely did not work for me. I ended up getting extremely sick and actually almost ended up in the hospital. It's important to just do your research first and play with your diet to see what makes you feel best in the end.

The one thing I will recommend though is something I've been doing for a while called the 80/20 non diet. I say "non" because it's really not like a diet at all! It's been very helpful to me and has made me very happy in multiple ways. Essentially all you do is make 80% of your diet throughout the day natural, and 20% of your diet to be left for whatever else you crave! I honestly don't miss gluten-free sweets as much anymore...but every once in a while we all need something to fill our cravings. That's why I think it's nice to be able to adjust my diet to where I feel good each day, but also fulfill my cravings to where I feel happy too. Like I said though, only try what you think would make you happiest and what would work best for you. I'm happy with what I eat and I personally feel great each day! If you think the 80/20 non diet would help you then go for it! But if you're expecting the same results as me and notice your health to go down hill, then it's obviously not for you.

Final thoughts:
The last thing I want to do with this post is tell you what can and can't eat on the gluten-free diet. I know you don't want to cut out more from your diet than you already have. So that's why I'll say if you really don't feel like you have to remove anything else, then don't! If what you eat now works for you and makes you feel healthy each day, then great! But if you still feel like crap and don't feel like you're getting significantly better, then why not try and do something to change that? My goal with this post was to share some advice on the matter and give my opinion on what I think could be helpful to most people. I do think eating natural is a much better way to go than being just gluten-free. But that doesn't mean I think we can't enjoy eating those gluten-free products that makes us feel "normal" every once in a while. I feel like you should always do what's best for you. Just listen to your body and do what makes you feel happy in the end!

What type of balance do you have for your diet that makes you feel best? 
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  1. Like you I have other issues besides my gluten intolerance to deal with. Mine is related to my stomach not emptying properly which forces me to have to either drink liquids like broths on my bad days or pureed foods on my better ones. I've tried to look for organic options (baby foods in pouches pack for lunches really well) as well as using my crock pot to cook the meat my husband eats while I get to have the broth. I don't find myself wishing for the sweets like cakes any more and it takes me a long time to get through a loaf of gf bread because I don't crave it.

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  3. Taylor - great post!

    I'm grateful too, for gluten free products, but I absolutely feel better eating more fruits & veggies and "whole" foods. That's true for anybody! I think that everybody has low energy & stomach problems if they eat too much junk food! :)

    I found out I was celiac this year & I went gluten free this April and most of my symptoms went away after 2 months. I replaced everything in my kitchen with gluten free versions! I was eating so much junk food though & I started having really low energy again and just different stomach problems.

    I just eat healthier now & my gluten free foods are like "dessert" to me - something you are supposed to have once in a while! a treat! :)

    - Megan

  4. I love it and I live it! Great post! :)