What are the drawbacks of a gluten-free diet?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
Lack of fiber is the biggest drawback of a gluten-free diet. Wheat is probably the biggest source of fiber in the average American diet. There are other sources of fiber available that are gluten free. Beans, corn, brown rice all contain fiber. Just because a product says it is gluten-free does not mean it is low in sugar, fats, or calories. Read labels and be an ingredient detective.
Rachel Begun
Nutrition & Dietetics
For people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, following a gluten-free diet is the only course of treatment to relieve symptoms and prevent long-term health consequences. (We don't know yet if there are long-term consequences to continuing to eat gluten with gluten sensitivity.)

Gluten-free diets that focus on highly processed gluten-free packaged foods can be low in certain nutrients, including fiber, iron, and B vitamins. That's because many gluten-free packaged foods are devoid of these nutrients. To avoid these nutrient gaps, focus the majority of the diet on naturally gluten-free foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, gluten-free whole grains, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, lean cuts of meat and poultry, fish and low-fat dairy.

Another reason to avoid highly processed gluten-free packaged foods is that they can be more expensive than their counterparts.
You might want to visit health-food stores more often, since these carry many gluten-free foods. In a regular grocery store, safe foods for people who cannot digest gluten tend to be located along the perimeter: fresh fruits and vegetables, unprocessed meats, fresh seafood, milk, eggs, yogurt, butter and unprocessed cheese. Other safe foods include clear soups, packaged fruits and vegetables, plain nuts, unflavored potato chips, popcorn and sugar. All grains aren't forbidden, by the way. You can enjoy those that are naturally gluten-free, such as corn, quinoa, rice, soy and potato flour. When dining out, be prepared to talk to the wait staff or someone from the kitchen about which ingredients are OK and where substitutions are needed. But take heart: An increasing number of restaurants cater solely to people with celiac disease.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.