Gluten-Free Is the Way to Go for Some Dieters - NBC Southern California

Gluten-Free Is the Way to Go for Some Dieters



    For some, avoiding gluten is a medical necessity born from an allergy to the protein found mostly in wheat. But for a growing group of others, gluten-free is a healthy lifestyle choice.

    Leslie Atkins, of Burbank, does not have a gluten allergy, but a few years, she decided to go gluten-free.

    Atkins and her husband Darren now schedule their date nights for Henry's Farmers Market in Burbank to accommodate their new dietary lifestyle.

    "Let's face it -- cutting out yummy breads and snack foods, it's not the most fun thing, so you might as well have fun with it," said Leslie Atkins. "I just started having more energy and it just felt so much better, so I just decided to stick with it."

    The gluten-free way of life is exploding beyond farmers markets. Restaurants and supermarkets are adding gluten-free items. The market totals several billions of dollars, up nearly 17 percent from 2007.

    Zengo, a restaurant in Santa Monica, has a separate gluten-free menu, which comprises 20 percent of all the food they offer.
    "It's what people wanted, so we give them what they are asking for," said chef Radames Febles.

    "I think I decided I wanted to be in a body that I felt comfortable in, and it just seemed that gluten foods prevented that, and I'm very committed to health and well-being," said Lynn Griffith, a local woman who is now gluten-free.

    The biggest folly of a gluten-free diet, say the experts, if weight loss is your goal be very, very careful -- it can backfire.
    "I have clients all the time, 'Oh, I found the gluten-free section,' and they go crazy on gluten-free," said Dr. Hacer Bozkurt.

    Bozkurt says that in some case, the missing gluten is replaced with high levels of fat, sugar and carbohydrates.

    "If they're only seeking out gluten-free products, and they're not paying attention to what they're eating in terms of calories, and fats and sugars and so forth, they could end up eating a lot of calories without really realizing it," said registered dietician Susan Bowerman.

    Leslie and Darren Atkins say they are careful about reading label.
    "The first time, it's a pain in the butt, but once you get used to it, then you know what you like, what you want, what you can eat," said Darren Atkins.

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