to our healthy lifestyle challenge lead by our program dietitian Vicki Bovee and her husband, Bill. Because we can always do better to live a healthier lifestyle Vicki and Bill decided to work on a weekly challenge together to provide support and accountability for each other and hopefully inspire you to make healthy changes. Follow along with them as they tackle a variety of challenges to eat better, eat more mindfully, and improve physical health and emotional well-being. Vicki and Bill invite you to participate and accept the challenges to improve your lifestyle too. Some of them may be difficult and please feel free to modify the challenges to accommodate your dietary needs and physical abilities.

Challenge #41 We’re gluten-free
There is no end to the marketing efforts to rope us into gluten-free eating whether we need to or not, or we think we need the diet restriction. Gluten-free is big money for the food manufacturers. Remember the fat-free craze? According to Food Navigator-USA, in 2014, gluten-free product sales reached $973 million and the projected sales for 2019 are $2.34 billion. So why the huge sales? Are that many people gluten-sensitive or have celiac disease? Those people really do need to eat gluten-free and this market glut is a boon for them. But only about 6% of the US population has celiac disease and another 18 million are non-celiac gluten sensitive.

That means a majority of the gluten-free products are purchased by people who perceive these foods to be healthier, help them manage or lose weight, are of a higher quality, and/or low carb. You would be wrong on all counts. We found plenty of gluten-free junk food on the shelves from cookies to salty snacks. The junky foods were just as high in calories, sugar, salt, and/or fat as the conventional food. That won’t help you manage your weight but it will help you shrink your food dollar since these foods generally cost more. We also found foods that never contained gluten and were labeled as such to push sales.

So what is gluten? It is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Anything with white or whole wheat flour contains gluten. Gluten helps improve the texture of some foods and it is added to many processed foods. So like fat and sugar, gluten can hide in foods you wouldn’t think of, like soy sauce, licorice and beer.Vicki’s observations:
• It’s nice to know that potato chips are gluten-free but that doesn’t give me a license to eat them. They’re the same chip Lay’s has always made.
• We had a late work day and picked up a Papa Murphy’s veggie delight on a gluten-free crust for dinner. The medium pizza cost more than the large thin crust. I took one bite and I couldn’t eat it. The crust was sweet. I don’t know about you but I don’t want my pizza crust to taste like a cookie. I ate the toppings and threw away the crust.
• I already had some Pamela’s gluten-free baking mix in the cupboard that my neighbor raved about. I made blueberry muffins for Sunday breakfast. They were OK but the ones I made the weekend before were lower in calories and higher in fiber.
• All in all this was easy for me. We already eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, all gluten-free. We eat fresh fish and chicken, both gluten-free. I think the only specific product I bought for myself was a small loaf of gluten-free bread. I’m not a big bread eater and I could have gone without.
• Physically I noticed no difference in how I felt. Clearly I am not gluten sensitive. There is no benefit to me for spending the extra money on these products.

Bill’s observations:
• I was hungry for sushi and I wanted California rolls. They are made with imitation crab and that contains gluten so I had to get something different. I didn’t enjoy it as much but the restaurant did have gluten-free soy sauce available.
• Like many people, I thought I might feel better eating gluten-free but I felt no difference at all.
• The gluten-free pizza at Papa Murphy’s was not good and I will never order that type of crust again. The thin crust veggie pizza is fantastic and the crust tastes much better.
• I like cereal in the morning a few times a week so I had to find gluten-free cereal for the challenge. I did find some good tasting cereal made by Nature’s Path and I think I will continue to buy them in the future.
• Overall it was an easy challenge but I don’t need to spend the money on more expensive products that don’t make me feel any better or are any healthier than the foods I already eat.

Maybe you don’t have celiac disease nor are you gluten-sensitive. You may have noticed other problems with gluten-containing foods and if eliminating gluten makes you feel better then do it. But I have to wonder about this. Is it the gluten or are you just eating healthier?

If you are eating gluten-free to lose weight or just because you think it’s healthier, you are not doing your body a favor. There are risks involved with eating gluten-free. Whole grain breads and cereals are a good source of fiber and eliminating these foods could lead to constipation unless you increase your intake of fiber from other foods. Some wheat products are fortified with vitamins and minerals and you could possibly not eat enough of these nutrients. You can also potentially cause a decrease in the good bacteria that live in your gut which can negatively affect your immune system. And did I mention the drain on your pocketbook?

Next week we do what we gotta do to take care of ourselves.

Eat Smarter…
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD

Want to catch up on what you’ve missed?

The road to success is always under construction
Challenge #1 Eat everything sitting down.
Challenge #2 Eliminate cheese as an ingredient.
Challenge #3 Walk sideways in your home.
Challenge #4 Include a fresh herb in your daily meal plan.
Challenge #5 If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand.
Challenge #6 Eat the MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables.
Challenge #7  Stand (and walk if possible) while talking on the phone.
Challenge # 8 Don’t eat out of the package. Put your food on a plate or in a bowl.
Challenge # 9 Keep a food record.
Challenge # 10 Power down while eating.
Challenge # 11 Eating to reduce inflammation.
Challenge # 12 Eating to help our environment.
Challenge # 13 Switch it up.
Challenge # 14 The road to success is still under construction.
Challenge # 15 Little bites.
Challenge # 16 Drink your water.
Challenge # 17 Count your chews.
Challenge # 18 The 100 Bite Diet.
Challenge # 19 Start your day right.
Challenge # 20 Holiday moves.
Challenge # 21 Limit TV time.
Challenge # 22 The Paleo Diet: Eat Like a Caveman.
Challenge # 23 Sweet dreams.
Challenge # 24 What color is your plate?
Challenge # 25 Six month reflections
Challenge # 26 Retro-walking.
Challenge # 27 Gimme a high fiber
Challenge # 28 The Half Plate Rule
Challenge #29 Feel Good Week
Challenge #30 Try one new healthy food a day
Challenge #31 It’s a stretch
Challenge #32 TLC for heart health
Challenge #33 The sounds of silence
Challenge #34 10,000 steps a day
Challenge #35  35/350
Challenge #36 Have a super week
Challenge #37 Stress busters
Challenge #38 Walking the tightrope
Challenge #39
The 7PM cut off
Challenge #40
Primary eating


Vicki Bovee is the Registered Dietitian for Western Bariatric Institute and leads the non-surgical weight loss program, “Health and Lifestyle Program.” Contact Vicki


WBI green