Does gluten free mean it’s healthy?

Food…such a complicated and emotion-filled topic. Talk about food and people will get very animated. Food is not just fuel to us. Food is cultural, reward-based and even guilt-producing. I had to make a significant shift in my own thoughts about food when I was trying to get healthier. I did that through reading about how it works with our bodies and what various foods did for us. Along the way, I ran into lots and lots of catchphrases in regard to nutrition. Here are some words we need to ditch in my opinion. We need to forget about the words clean and gluten-free…to me, these phrases are meaningless.

Does gluten-free mean it’s healthy?

Let me give you an example. Gluten-free, a huge phrase thrown around. If you are saying an apple is gluten-free, you are correct. You can also say that a highly processed and sugar-laden cookie is gluten-free. Is a gluten FREE cookie healthier than a cookie made with gluten? Nope, they are BOTH cookies and by their definition a sugary snack, gluten or no gluten.

Eating clean…what does this mean exactly? Clean carb? WHAT is a clean carb? It’s confusing and doesn’t really describe anything. It’s just another way to say hey, I am trying to eat healthily.

What I am trying to say is let’s forget all the hip definitions and focus on the actual food!

Want to be healthy and get down to a more optimal body weight? Here is the answer. Ready?

Organic and grass-fed matter.

Eat natural (preferably organic) whole foods. Eat tons of vegetables in a large variety. Eat a moderate amount of organic fruit. Eat grass-fed (when possible) proteins and eat them in a variety. Eat healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, olives and items of this nature. Eat Kerry Gold butter but overall, keep your dairy to a minimum as many people are reactive to the inflammatory compounds in dairy. Last, limit the eating of legumes as they also can be inflammatory. Soy…soy sucks, enough said about soy.

There it is folks. Simple.

Let’s not complicate the situation.

Now, certain people want something more complicated. They want percentages and ratios. They want volumes and caloric counts. This isn’t sustainable eating in my opinion.

If you are not of an optimal bodyweight, then you would benefit from the way I discussed above. Forget all this other stuff. You first need to understand the basics of how to eat healthily. You need to retrain your palate and your brain. This happens through the removal of all processed sugars and grain products (grains turn into sugar in your body) for at least 30 to 60 days.

Are you eating to compete or to be healthy?

Athletes can absolutely benefit from carb cycling, carb backloading, cutting and bulking phases of eating. This is their livelihood and they are using food as a tool to achieve a specific and measurable goal. If you are working out one hour 3-5 times a week…I’m sorry to burst your bubble but you are not an athlete. You are a recreational exerciser, and this is awesome! Just understand the difference between your needs and the needs of someone who is working out hard 3-5 hours a day with specific training protocols in place.

My husband used to professionally compete in The CrossFit Games®.  Charlie used to go in and out of heavy training periods. When Charlie was working out one hour a day six days a week, he just tried to eat healthily and when he desired a less healthy, yet yummy fun food, he ate it. He ate it knowing it wasn’t healthy and that on this occasion he made a conscious choice to have it.

When Charlie was lifting heavy trying to gain muscle, he ate a high-calorie heavy in fats and carbs diet and this caused him to gain weight. This was recovery fat that aided him in making muscle gains.

When he was getting ready to compete and needed to lean out then he went into carb backloading phase. He spent nine days eating high fat, moderate protein, and low carb and then he would backload with a high carb intake on the evening of the ninth day. He did this in cycles until he got down to his optimal performance weight and along with all of this, he changed his training goals accordingly.

Your nutrition shouldn’t be a pain in the ass.

Doesn’t this sound like a pain in the ass? Are you really going to go through all of this? Probably not and so I think I’ve made my case for just learning how to eat healthily in a sustainable fashion.

The internet is loaded with resources. Tons of delicious vegetable recipes and ways to make them taste fantastic. Turn it into a challenge for yourself. What is the worst that happens? You throw out four bucks worth of gross okra…okra is gross in my opinion btw!

Every day is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and the trajectory of our lives through conscious choices. Changing the major components of our lives like our nutrition takes time and patience with ourselves. Enjoy the journey of changing your nutrition. Never diet. Dieting = deprivation. Deprivation = misery. Misery is not a sustainable state of existence.



The information shared by Tracey L. Cassara RNC is for educational purposes and is intended to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. You should always consult with your physician before starting a fitness regimen, adding supplements to your diet regimen, or any other changes that can affect your medications or treatment plan. This information is not to be used to diagnose or treat any condition. Tracey L. Cassara, RNC is not liable for how you use and implement the information you receive.