The $4.2 Billion Gluten Free Scam: You’re Paying Too Much for Gluten Free Food

Consumers spend $4.2 billion on gluten free products
There is a legitimate reason to eat gluten free. That reason is if you have Celiac disease, where eating gluten can be a life threatening endeavor. If you think you might be gluten intolerant in any way, it’s important to make an appointment with your doctor to find out. Your doctor can test you so you know for sure, and you can make the appropriate dietary changes needed. For those who truly do need to avoid gluten products, there are a number of ways to save money on them. For the other 99% of us, gluten free food is a marketing ploy to get you to spend extra money on something you think is healthier than it probably is. And we’re spending money on gluten free products to the tune of $4.2 billion a year as a nation.

There’s No Need

The vast majority of people don’t need to go gluten free. That’s not to say some people could benefit from reducing the amount of gluten in their diet (especially white flour). For the majority of us, however, having gluten in our diet is perfectly healthy, and shouldn’t be the cause of any concern.

“Gluten Free” Has Become a Marketing Ploy

Ten years ago it would have been difficult to tell which products were and weren’t gluten free without looking at the ingredient label. That’s no longer the case. “Gluten Free” is now plastered across products in big, bold letters so there’s no doubt. This is because it’s an effective marketing ploy. The vast majority of these products haven’t changed the way they’re made. The manufacturers simply know the gluten free trend will encourage people to buy their product if labeled as such, and in many cases, even pay more for it. Think of it as the “fat free” label of 5 years ago.

Gluten Free Doesn’t Mean Healthier

There seems to be a huge misconception about a gluten free diet being healthy. Eating less grains such as wheat, rye and barley (the grains which contain gluten) can be healthier if your diet consists of over-eating these, but that’s completely different than claiming gluten free equals “healthy”. All gluten free tells a consumer is there isn’t any gluten in the product (or an extremely small amount). In fact, a gluten free product can be just as unhealthy for you as those containing gluten. Pure sugar is gluten free, but that doesn’t mean you should only eat pure sugar. Below is a good video explaining what gluten is and why gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy:

Many people do feel better when they quit eating wheat, but this is often not because they have gone gluten free, but because in doing so, they stopped eating products which contain a lot of white flour. Eating fewer products which contain white flour, while keeping gluten in your diet, will also make you feel better. In fact, everyone should try to eliminate as much white flour and processed food from their diet as possible since doing so will be good for you. Doing this, however, doesn’t mean you have to stop eating gluten.

Gluten Free Doesn’t Mean Less Calories

Another misconception is gluten free products are healthier because they contain less calories. This is often not the case. In fact, they’ll usually contain a similar amount of calories because gluten substitutes like sorghum, corn and rice flour contain a similar number of calories as wheat flour.

As with most food consumption issues, it’s not a matter of elimination, but a matter of balance. If you believe you have a gluten intolerance, visit your doctor to confirm this, as it can be a serious food condition. If you don’t, be sure to consume gluten in moderation, but do your wallet a favor and don’t buy into the marketing campaigns which lead you to believe you shouldn’t consume any.

(Photo courtesy of Missy Ward)

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19 Responses to The $4.2 Billion Gluten Free Scam: You’re Paying Too Much for Gluten Free Food

  1. faith says:

    Everyone should eat gluten free. It’s so much healthier for you and it totally changed my life. This isn’t just a marketing ply from food manufacturers, it’s a healthy way of life. Don’t knock it until you tried it.

  2. Lauren says:

    There are many more medical reasons to give up gluten than just Celiac. For some, it’s Non Celiac Gluten Intolerance. For others, it’s migraines, or arthritis.

  3. RYan says:

    This is so ignorant, the same kind of ignorance that is perpetuated about GMO foods, about vaccines causing autism…you literally know nothing about the gluten free world and are making claims that it is better. My wife has celiacs, and she needs to be gluten free, and some of the benefits from it becoming a fad help her out a lot, the labeling, the availability of products, but it no way, shape, or form is simply eating gluten free food a healthy way of life. You are an idiot.

  4. Ghost says:

    I highly doubt that gluten…something we have been eating for hundreds of years, is suddenly causing random headaches and arthritis. I’m confident in saying that such claims are unfounded, and that a moderate diet appropriate to your personal dietary needs, including any possible allergies, should be planned and followed in order to obtain the best possible outcome.

  5. Don Yechwando says:

    Completely seulemente retrada.

  6. faith says:

    Gluten leads to candida, so you my friend are the idiot.

  7. Houstondav says:

    I’m sorry but we have not been eating this supposedly “wheat” for hundreds of years. The wheat plant your eating now was designed in the 70s and went world wide by the 80s. It is 2 feet tall verses 4 feet of the old and yeilds 10 times the crop which is why everyone went to it. It should not be called wheat and no testing was done on how this new plant might affect us. If it taste like and smells like it must be….wait it doesn’t taste like or smell like or feeling like the old wheat…so is it wheat? Now after a 30 experiment we now see how the world is becoming overweight.

  8. I’m a big fan of Gluten free products, especially cereals and oatmeals. For me, gluten free are healthy products and I’ve been eating it for almost a decade.

  9. Linda Davis says:

    The wheat that is available to us now is not anywhere near the wheat that was being harvested or milled 50 years ago. The product has changed. As have the nutrients in our food. We eat more but we are overweight because our bodies are never satisfied because our food is not as healthy as it once was. The soil is overworked and the root base of the plants is shallower and relies on fertilizer and pesticides to grow to maturity. It is not putting down the roots that it needs to add those micronutrients that we need in our food and for our bodies. Mother Earth girl, yes, I am but there is so much truth to it.
    Gluten free is not calorie free by any means. BUT if eating gluten makes you feel better, I see no reason not to do it. It does not matter what any “expert” says, if they have never suffered while digesting something that their body is not happy with. It is wonderful that some of the bigger manufacturers are now making gluten free products and bringing the costs down. It is a win-win for all. Everyone should have a choice.

  10. rob says:

    err, wheat wasn’t being harvested 50 million years ago! Homo sapiens sapiens weren’t around 50 million years ago to harvest it! Agriculture is around 10,000 years old….. The food grown today is more niutritious than that grown thousands of years ago. I agree everyone should have a choice though…..

  11. Claire says:

    Sorry, but you are wrong. I don’t want to be mean about it but you should read about candida from a reputable medical source such as Fewer refined foods? That’s healthier for you, not going GF, unless you medically need to.

  12. hannah says:

    If you reread her comment you will see she says 50 years, not 50 million years. She happens to be right and you are wrong.

  13. jen says:

    Gluten is a protein. Candida feeds off sugars. Try again.

  14. Chuck says:

    Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is probably non-existent.

  15. Starr says:

    Gluten free is the biggest scam in the food industry today. The percentage of people that have true gluten intolerance is less than .001%. It is a sexy, trendy term, for foolish Americans who don’t do research to waste their money on. Gluten is not poison, you sheep!

  16. frank says:

    Faith you ignorant dummy. I have diagnosed Celiac Disease. That’s right Had a tube down my throat with a biopsy confirming a severely, black, small intestine. It’s because of people like you I can never eat out again because when I try to go to a restaurant and order gluten free they don’t take me seriously even though I vomit, get diarrhea and the sweats every time I even get a trace of gluten. I’d like to thank the phonies for giving me more options to shop at the markets because of the popularity of GF foods but I can’t stand all the non Celiac’s playing the fad. Go to hell

  17. BARRIE says:

    ‘Don’t knock it until you tried it’ is a silly, specious argument. Empirical evidence is not the only kind. I don’t need to ‘try’ everything if there’s already no science to back it up.

  18. BARRIE says:

    Romantic, even dangerous, nonsense. The game is rather given away with the phrase ‘It does not matter what any ‘expert’ says.

  19. Rob Puentes says:

    A letter to Faith
    In my humble opinion the Gluten Free Hysteria is one of the greatest scams ever fed the American public. As a nutritional consultant, all “Gluten Free” means is a company charging more $ to a ignorant public. Its not the gluten, its the starchy carbs that make people fat and sick If you have celiac disease or are borderline sensitive (maybe 15% of the population AT THE MOST) dont ear gluten. The rest is total horseshit!!!! I dont know you but check the facts before you make a statement without really understanding the facts. BTW, the food industry is much more dishonest and full of crap then you know.

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