Just when I was getting used to “organic,” the nation went and grabbed itself a new health fad.
I rarely have a day where I don’t see or hear the terms, “gluten-free,” “probiotic” “lactose-free,” “Paleo,” etc. And there seems to be new ones constantly.
Not only are these terms well advertised on the front of many products in the store, but there are also aisles dedicated to them.
Restaurants have an entire side of the menu highlighting “gluten-free,” and I’ve gotten to the point where inviting people over for dinner also includes asking them what specialty diet they are on.
After getting together with some girlfriends and for 45 minutes hearing nothing but everyone’s gluten, dairy or yeast intolerances – my head was spinning. It was like when all your friends are raving about a new album and you have no idea who the singer even is.
My mom and I joked that explaining what diet you’re on is like ordering your special Starbucks drink with all those fancy terms. “I’ll take that gluten and dairy free with a shot of organic sugar and probiotics, minus the yeast.”
I am all for people finding healthier ways to eat and completely understand that some foods will make some bodies not feel so hot. Our bodies are a gift from God, and we should treat them that way.
Like your mom always told you, don’t jump just because it is what everyone else is doing. Just because your neighbor, teacher and best friend have intolerances, doesn’t mean you do.
“We shouldn’t be swayed by what other families are doing or what the popular media tells us,” says Master Nutrition Therapist and Staff Nutritionist at the Y, Aimee Darling.
Before labeling that you or your child has an allergy or intolerance, Darling recommends looking out for struggles with mood, sleep and/or physical issues such as rashes, dark circles around the eyes, hives, etc. Then, take some foods out of your diet and carefully watch what happens.
These are serious diets that take research, paying attention to your body and prayer.
God created all foods for us to enjoy and to nourish our bodies. The key is that we use theses gifts in moderation.
Here is a quick 101 on these hot health terms:
Gluten-Free: Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye). This diet is used to treat celiac disease – an inflammation in the small intestines. While only a small percentage of people have celiac, many use the diet to manage their bread and pasta intake or help with stomach bloat.
Foods not allowed unless labeled “Gluten-Free”: Beer, bread, cake, many seasonings, soups, pasta, salad dressing, etc. Foods allowed: Beans, eggs, most dairy products, fruits and vegetables.
Lactose or Dairy-Free: Lactose intolerance means that you are not able to properly digest the milk sugar (lactose) in dairy products. Lactose intolerance is usually caused by low levels of the enzyme lactase in your small intestine that lead to signs and symptoms such as diarrhea, gas and bloating.
Vegan/vegetarian: Vegetarianism concentrates solely on not eating meat (red meat, seafood, poultry, etc.); Vegan is a form of this diet that also excludes eggs and dairy products.
Paleo (Paleolithic Diet): There is a reason why this is referred to as the “Caveman Diet.” Paleo focuses on eating fresh meats, fish, nuts, and fruits and vegetables. The diet excludes whole grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, potatoes, refined salt, refined sugar, processed oils and alcohol.
Probiotics: These are a type of “good” bacteria that are considered to help with protection from harmful bacteria. Probiotics are found in foods such as yogurt, but recently we’ve seen a rise in the use of probiotics as a dietary supplement. While it isn’t certain that probiotics will make you healthier, there's encouraging evidence that probiotics may help with digestion, eczema and colds/flu.
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" 1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV.
Sources: Mayo Clinic; Church Health Center (www.churchhealthcenter.org).