Gluten snack gluttony

There is almost nothing I like doing more than exposing the food industry for what it really is. An industry based on profits just like any other. With absolutely NO consideration to how what they’re churning out actually impacts our health. And today, I’ve got a great mind-opening example.

First, let me continue with the gluten-free discussion from yesterday. Because the gluten-free craze is turning into a gluttonous mess.

The U.S. gluten-free market is ballooning right now. As you would have seen if you attended the recent “Natural Foods Expo” in Baltimore, MD, a few weeks back. First of all, the amount of processed and packaged foods that crammed the aisles there was evidence that even the “natural” industry is selling out.

Manufacturers both small and large are battling for space and profits in this increasingly lucrative market. Which means the gluten-free category is quickly following in the footsteps of the “low-fat,” “low-carb,” and countless other trendy categories before it. It’s all about selling more junk food, packaged in another way.

Snack titan Frito-Lay, for instance, has launched a gluten-free recipe section on its website featuring its own products. And even Amy’s Organics has added gluten-free cookies and cakes to its product line. But guess what? NONE of these are healthy!

I always counsel my patients who need to or want to follow a gluten-free lifestyle to do so by eating foods that are naturally gluten free–not a disguised chip, cookie, or bun.

According to a recent industry report, a registered dietician (that should be a tip-off right there that nothing intelligent about food will be said) and principle nutrition scientist at Frito-Lay North America, said: “We’re offering fans a variety of gluten-free recipes and letting them know many of their favorite Frito-Lay snacks can still be a part of a gluten-free lifestyle.” REALLY???

Let me put this into perspective:

  • The U.S. gluten-free market has grown threefold over the past five years alone
  • Sales of gluten-free chips, pretzels, and other snacks soared from $225 million in 2009 to $388 million in 2011
  • Gluten-free bread and baked goods more than doubled between 2009 and 2011
  • Gluten-free cold cereal sales outsold traditional cereals and pulled in $178 million in 2011, up $47 million from 2009

These numbers are hard to resist for a manufacturer. But hopefully you can resist. See it for what it is…Big business, selling junk food, as a new “good for you” food.

Stick with whole, fresh foods and my New Hamptons Health Miracle. And don’t buy into the hype. You can do it, as thousands of my patients have.