When I was writing the article on Gluten-Free Cruising, I was reminded about some of the myths surrounding a gluten-free diet that restricts, for example, the buffets on the ship to create a larger gluten-free section. These are my Top 3 Myths about Gluten-Free Foods.
MYTH 1: Gluten-Free foods are healthier
Here’s a good analogy for this myth. There are people who say they are vegetarian because they want to eat healthier. Well, technically, french fries is vegetarian. Is that healthy? Umm, that’s a big NO.
With Gluten-Free foods, all you’re cutting out are grains and carbs from wheat, barley, and rye. I’m still eating grains, just not those specific ones.
I have a bread maker where I can make my own gluten-free breads with gluten-free flour mixes that usually include a mixture of several other types of grains.
Just this past weekend, at a restaurant up in Whistler, Canada, for a weekend trip, I was able to pick up a vegan and gluten-free banana and pecan muffin. It was delicious and I’m sure not all the healthiest as it was nice and sweet.
So, if you really want to eat healthier, cut out added sugar, which includes all sodas, sweets, and many processed foods. Gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthier.
MYTH 2: Gluten-Free foods help you lose weight
This particular myth is one that I’ve personally experienced a few times since I went gluten-free and I even wrote an article on this one as well. Gluten-free is not a weight-loss diet.
I didn’t go gluten-free to lose weight. I went gluten-free because I’m intolerant to it and it causes me pain.
I didn’t lose weight just because I ate only gluten-free foods. I lost weight because I got healthier by getting rid of the one item that was hurting me.
I always felt lethargic, had pain in the joints, and was always bloated before I went gluten-free. After I went gluten-free, I had energy to exercise more and get healthier overall thus resulting in my weight loss.
MYTH 3: Gluten-Free foods taste bad
Let’s start off with what gluten is and I’ll keep this very simple. Gluten is a protein from wheat, barley, and rye. That’s it, end of the story. These grains really don’t have much taste to it themselves so why is it used in so many things?
If you want to thicken up a soup, you add flour, right? And it’s usually bleached wheat flour (white flour). The flour doesn’t necessarily change the taste, it just thickens up the soup to change the texture.
Have you seen sauces and dressings on the shelf at the store where the ingredients have separated? For example, the oil is up top while the other ingredients are at the bottom? Wheat is added with the gluten acting as a “binder” or “stabilizer” to keep things mixed up properly. Without it, certain ingredients will separate so they’ll suggest shaking before using.
Gluten, I guess you can say, is a food glue. Aside from bread, flour is added to change the texture or keep things together, but never as a flavoring since it has no flavor of its own. It’s not a spice, people. Removing gluten from a dish does not make it taste any different.
Regular soy sauce and gluten-free soy sauce are both just as soy salty. You really can’t tell the difference between the two.
Here’s another question for all of you. Does a nice juicy steak taste horrible to you? Surely not and it’s naturally gluten-free. How about scrambled eggs with ketchup? That’s also naturally gluten-free and there’s no gluten in ketchup. There’s no gluten in mustard as well. So where did this myth come from???
How These Myths Affect Reality
Referencing back to the buffets on the cruise ship, Royal Caribbean cruises usually have a small dedicated Gluten-Free section in the Windjammer buffets. I noticed that many of the other dishes in the other sections of the buffet should also be naturally gluten-free and the chefs did confirm that.
However, the chef also said that if they labeled a large section as gluten-free, there’ll be too much left over because people tend to avoid them if they’re not on a gluten-free diet or they think it won’t taste good.
Almost all food dishes out there, if made from scratch, are naturally gluten-free. Store-bought sauce mixes usually have wheat added in to stabilize the mix, but not as a flavoring. If you need to thicken up a dish, you can use other types of flour, you don’t necessarily have to use wheat-based flours. But, it’s the most common type of flour that all restaurants will have, unfortunately.
In regards to the myth that gluten-free is just a diet for losing weight, this is the very reason that many restaurants and chefs don’t treat our orders with the proper care to prevent cross-contamination. This is the reason why I still get sick even though I’ve ordered a gluten-free dish and made it clear that I’m allergic to it.