Healthy? Yes, so long as you approach it in the right way.
Some people believe that “going gluten free” is a fad diet, like going low-carb ala Atkins or the Zone diet. What those people may not realize is that the gluten-free diet is a medically prescribed diet for the treatment of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the consumption of gluten creates a reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Some people believe that because celiac disease and gluten intolerance don’t result in full-body anaphylactic reactions that it isn’t serious, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Celiacs who continue to consume gluten, either by choice or by accident, are at risk for intestinal cancers, infertility, malnutrition, and a host of other ailments.
There’s a growing group of people who haven’t been diagnosed with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, but who say they just “feel better” when they avoid gluten. I’ve run across several posts from people who believe too that the high rates of childhood obesity are tied to our “fast food” way of living, and that by electing for healthier whole foods, and avoiding white/refined rice and flours, they are having success with helping overweight children and adults lose weight.
Now, if your “normal” diet is fast food and cookies, and your gluten-free diet is whole foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, then yes, the gluten-free diet is healthier. But, just because a food is gluten free doesn’t mean that it is healthier than its gluten-full counterpart. Do you know how they get gluten-free cookies to taste good? They add copious amounts of sugar and fat. Gluten-free “sandwich” bread can have up to twice as many calories per slice as “regular” bread. Your gluten-free diet can be as healthful or as unhealthful as any gluten-full diet.
Though I advocate a gluten-free life for those with an allergy/sensitivity, I don’t advocate it as means to lose weight. I do however feel that eating gluten-free (and not simply replacing gluten-free products for the standard gluten laden staples) that you will inadvertently find yourself living a leaner, healthier lifestyle with more energy, and consequently, may lose weight, and/or ensure a healthier way of living that supports whole-foods, free of gluten and various other preservatives that are believed to be causing the explosion of diabetes and various other auto-immune disorders, as well as the high rates of overweight children in America.
So, the short answer is YES, I believe the gluten-free diet to be a healthier one. However, that is only the case if you avoid substituting gluten-free products for the standard gluten-full products of your past. If you follow a true gluten-free diet, and incorporate lean meats, fish, veggies and fruits into your diet in place of wheat, pasta, bread, and all other carbs, then you will most likely find yourself feeling lighter, having more energy, and many report a clearer mind as well.
In good health!