Gluten-Free Diet: Do you really need to be on it?

The pros and cons of a Gluten-Free Diet (and also a breakdown on what going gluten-free is).

Gluten-free. You might have heard the term before (of course, I am using this expression lightly) used among your peers or in magazines and cooking shows. Unfortunately, people who follow a gluten-free diet in Singapore may not all be fully aware why their body may need (or not, in most cases) a gluten-free diet.

Here’s the breakdown: Gluten-free food simply means food that contains no gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye and barely that helps make bread or pasta dough elastic to a certain extent and lends baked goods their chewiness. It’s a naturally occurring bacterium and is not added into any food items by scheming food manufacturers who want the food to last longer. Gluten-free diets or gluten free foods are generally mean for people who are gluten intolerant. In other words, their bodies act abnormally when they consume gluten, so they have to stay away from it. Although the most common form of gluten intolerance is known as celiac disease.

When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, the protein damages their intestines, making the body unable to absorb vital nutrients for bodily functions. Celiac is hereditary and can occur at any stage in ones life. While non-celiac gluten intolerance and celiac disease are two of the main causes of gluten intolerance, celiac disease is highly uncommon among Singaporeans, or in the general Asian region. A gluten-free diet is therefore not a way of life simply, but of necessity for the individuals who need it. Here’s a list of foods that contain gluten  that people can avoid, if they have the need to.

No need for a Gluten-Free Diet

There are a number of things that can happen to you if you decide to jump on a silly trend and decide to stay gluten-free or reduce gluten in your diet when your don’t medically have to. Firstly (and according to some, most importantly), you will stop losing weight. Gluten-free does not translate to fat or calorie free. In fact, most foods that are gluten-free contain just a tad more of everything else, including sugar, to give the food item that extra flavour or push. Instead of simply going gluten-free and eating the same foods without gluten, start adding more meat and protein to your diet. Also, avoiding gluten is also not as wallet friendly as consuming whole wheat or junk foods. Be prepared for a hike in your grocery bills, too.

Where to find Gluten-Free food in Singapore

If you are gluten intolerant or have a friend or family member who suffers from this condition, you can be more aware of going gluten-free when you cook or bake, or even when you dine out. If you’re on the hunt for a gluten-free café or restaurant, head over to honeycombers where you can find a comprehensive list of gluten-free eateries in Singapore. If you’re looking for a support group for gluten-free individuals in Singapore, there’s a Facebook page that you can be a part of, too. You can prepare delicious gluten-free food at home too, just head on over to the gluten-free market to buy your ingredients. They’re online as well, which makes life a lot easier.

So there you have it, a detailed 101 on gluten-free foods and how necessarily you need to go gluten-free in your life. Even if this is completely irrelevant to you and you’re a self-professed bread and sambal freak like me, you’re now all the wiser when it comes to going gluten-free. Feel free to educate your friends who are into this diet. Do you have any questions about going gluten-free in Singapore? Write-in! I’ll do the research so you won’t have to.

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