Is Gluten Free the Way for Me?
More and more belly dancers are tempted by fad diets that promise them amazing results. Every year we seem to dance our way through a magnitude of diets guaranteeing not to be a fad, but rather a nutritional lifestyle. From the Atkins diet to the Cabbage Soup diet, we have heard them all.
Now ‘gluten’ is being labelled as the demon ingredient in our meals, and the pressure is on to eliminate it from our food regime. The basic philosophy is that the body finds gluten difficult to digest. Without gluten, you retain less water and undigested food is emptied out of the body faster. Therefore, you have a satisfying ‘light’ feeling.
The diet was originally created for the large number of people who suffer from Celiac disease or have wheat allergies. With Celiac disease sufferers, the gluten damages the small intestines and consequently weakens its capability to absorb nutrients. Gluten must be completely ruled out to allow for the intestines to recuperate.
The gluten free diet rules out a number of foods, all containing wheat, rye, barley and usually oats. This may not sound like much, but these are found in bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, pretzels, muffins, cereals, muesli, pizza, pancakes, couscous, semolina, scones, malt drinks and even barley water beverages.
But for the benefit of a belly dancer’s body, the gluten free diet has its limits. Nutritional balance has to be the main priority for your body to perform at its best. Cancelling out a range of foods is not a balanced approach to dieting.
Of course many of taboo foods above are carbohydrates, which people associate with "making you fat". The reason why this diet has proved to be effective for dieters is because they have had to consciously cut down on processed foods and eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. When it comes to carbohydrates, having some in your meal plan is essential for energy. As a dancer you need that energy to perform.
It is no secret that many belly dancers are self conscious about their often “fuller’’ figures. While some are comfortable with their curves, others will try these fad diets in an effort to lose weight. Fad diets are easily recognized by the unrealistic results they promise by limiting the foods you can eat. The gluten free diet somewhat fits into this category.
The key to a healthy weight is not ruling out foods, but just eating them in moderation. In a healthy diet you need whole grains, vegetables and lean meat. Whole grains are in foods such as bread and cereals. The gluten free diet rules these out, despite the fact they contain the goodness that is necessary for a healthy body.
Throughout history women have been celebrated for their luscious curves, particularly in the Middle East where oriental dance originated. Belly dancers show the feminine, healthy and properly proportioned body of dancers. Ballet dancers, on the other hand, are often linked to a magnitude of eating disorders.
Unless you are unfortunate enough to suffer from an illness that forces you to follow a gluten free diet, enjoy eating the wide variety of foods you are lucky enough to have at your fingertips. Everything is good in moderation.