Perhaps you’ve seen the gluten-free craze sweeping the country. Restaurants proudly display their alternate gluten-free menu and snack packages boast “gluten-free.” But what exactly is “gluten-free?” And is it even worthwhile?
Seaver junior and food committee member, Phil Riola, says the gluten-free diet is quickly making its way to Pepperdine.
“In the last year we have placed a big emphasis on gluten-free dining,” Riola said. “It has become a very pressing health matter at Pepperdine and we have worked with dieticians to fully understand its importance.”
Like many, I was a skeptic of the “gluten-free” philosophy. Giving up all wheat products did not seem appealing or even healthy to me. However, I finally decided to give it a try and hop on the “gluten-free” bandwagon. Six months later, I am completely gluten-free and a huge proponent of the diet. Plus, thanks to Pepperdine’s wide variety of dining options, I have had no problem living the gluten-free life.
Not convinced? No worries! Here are some answers to the most common questions about going gluten-free:
What exactly is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat products. It helps to maintain the elasticity in foods during the fermentation phase and is commonly found in cereals, grains and most bread.
Why try to avoid gluten?
For a small percentage of people with gluten-intolerance, going gluten-free is necessary. Gluten-free diets are also the only medically acceptable treatment for celiac disease. For the rest of us, the benefits of a gluten-free diet are numerous. Benefits include improved cholesterol levels, digestive health and increased energy.
Brynn Henderson, a Seaver sophomore and cross-country runner, said going gluten free was one of the best decisions of her life.
“I have now been gluten-free for six years,” Henderson said. “I grew nearly 11 inches within a few years of eliminating gluten from my diet.”
Why should you avoid gluten?
Gluten is commonly found in over-processed foods. By only eating gluten-free foods, you are also eliminating a large amount of unhealthy oils from your diet. It also eliminates unnecessary carbohydrates including donuts, muffins or pastries. According to Bistromd.com, eliminating gluten can also decrease a persons risk of cancer, heart disease and other health related conditions. Lastly, it can also help your body fight viruses and germs due to the high amount of antioxidants found in gluten-free foods.
How do you go “gluten-free?”
A gluten-free diet is actually much easier than you think! The main foods to avoid are bread, pasta, cereals, crackers, cookies and cakes. When in doubt, check the ingredients listed on the packaging to see if the item contains wheat. Your diet should largely consist of fruits and vegetables, meats, fish and dairy products. Potatoes and gluten-free flours such as rice, soy and corn are also allowed.
Is a gluten-free diet possible at Pepperdine?
Yes! Luckily for you, Pepperdine has a variety of gluten-free options.
“The Waves Café has introduced gluten-free options into the veggie station, home style station and international station,” Riola said. “Those in conjunction with the salad bar and new gluten-free pantry give students a very impressive selection of healthy and diet friendly options.”
Nature’s Edge and the HAWC offer a variety of gluten-free snacks as well.
“Students with gluten-free diets are always encouraged to ask a dining services member for details or ingredients,” Riola said. “In addition, Sodexo has made all of its recipes available online for students to verify.”
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