Gluten free. It’s big business these days. Due to the rise of coeliac disease, together with other gluten and wheat related ‘sensitivity’ and ‘intolerances’, gluten-free products are being offered in restaurants, cafes and supermarkets all around the world. In my home town, Sydney, if you don’t offer at least one gluten-free option, you are definitely behind the curve ball.
Leading a vegan diet has also increased in popularity. In Notting Hill where I live in London, there are at least three high-end restaurants offering exclusively vegan food. To my surprise, when I recently visited Vienna, alongside traditional Viennese specials like schnitzel, in restaurants there were parts of the menu devoted to vegan options. For a meat-hungry country I was impressed.
However, let us delve a little deeper behind some of these health crazes and we shall find a different story.
Take gluten-free products for example. They are often stuffed with sugar, fats and other fillers and additives to make up for the lack of gluten, (which acts as a natural bind or ‘glue’ in food, ‘i.e. ‘GLUten’), together with low levels of dietary fibre, protein and other nutrients. Hardly a healthy option I must say.
The “vegan” brand also comes unstuck when we delve a little deeper into some of these animal substitute products. If you choose not to eat butter, you may be offered margarine as a substitute. Margarine is full of hydrogenated fats, and in short is not very good for you at all.
Hydrogenation creates trans fats, which is the worse kind of all, contributing to inflammation, high LDL cholesterol and heart disease. It may also include palm oil, a crop that is associated with rainforest destruction.
It gets worse with many of the vegan meat substitutes, containing a form of soy (i.e. soy protein isolate) which is heavily processed, affecting the quality of the food, and stripping it of much of its nutrients.
The point then is simple: by adopting an alternative dietary lifestyle or avoiding certain food groups altogether, our mind plays a trick on ourselves thinking we are being healthy or eating more consciously. What in fact we are doing is the exact opposite. Think about it.
There is a better way. Why not avoid that food altogether? We don’t need to create substitutes for everything we eat. There are plenty of wonderful natural products that allow us to stick to our ways of living.
If you are coeliac, choose brands like Artisan Bread Organic, which doesn’t use any gums, fillers or other additives in its gluten free breads.
If you aren’t coeliac but think you have a problem with wheat or gluten, try avoiding commercially produced bread. You’d be surprised how different your body will react to bread that is produced commercially compared to bread that is produced locally – I don’t touch any bread which is produced by all the big sausage sandwich brands. I know it’s a waste of time.
If you are a vegan, then there a whole range of natural and delicious food options that aren’t processed. All from Mother Nature.
We don’t have to be a slave to the analytical mind which thinks it can solve any diet related problem. Just let things be, accept what is and find real alternatives. Naturally.