It’s in your bread, your pancakes and your pasta. It’s even in your crackers. That’s right, I’m talking about the protein gluten, found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Not only is it weaved throughout your breads, but it can also be found in other foods ranging from salad dressing to ketchup to soup mixes. People with celiac disease have avoided gluten due to its harsh effect on the intestines, but why has this way of life become such a big trend among those of us who just want to try out a new diet? Take a bite out of these facts and see if the gluten-free trend is the way for you.

According to the Daily Beast, multiple celebrities are hopping on the gluten-free bandwagon. Hollywood is going against gluten – Zooey Deschanel has food allergies, Gwyneth Paltrow blames it for the extra “holiday” pounds gained around the holidays. Jenny McCarthy thinks that it has affected her son’s autism. Elisabeth Hasselbeck says it has caused her years of pain. These celebrities live gluten-free, and they love it. Gluten-free companies such as Udi’s Gluten Free are catching on to the celebrity trend while keeping their foods available to the common consumer.

While this not-so-new diet remains popular among the masses, some consumers are not yet sold on the idea. According to TIME, America is cutting gluten out of its diet in a grand way. With 29% of Americans avoiding gluten, the gluten-free diet was #2 on its top 10 list of food trends for 2012, with many consumers staying away from gluten mostly because it’s a trendy thing to do. However, this new fad is not cheap – producing gluten-free items, especially baked goods, tends to be more expensive because the manufacturers have to find alternatives that will give the finished product the same appearance and texture than that of the same gluten-filled product. Last year, the gluten-free market was $4.2 billion, with predictions growing up to $6.6 billion by 2017.

Just because people have benefitted from the diet doesn’t mean it always works. According to Dr. Oz, 81% of people with celiac disease on a gluten-free diet actually gained weight. This is because many processed gluten-free foods actually contain almost twice as many calories as their traditional counterparts. Not only do they pack on the calories, but the processed gluten-free foods also contain less fiber, making you full for a much shorter amount of time. On the Huffington Post, Missy Chase Lapine explained her struggle with this issue. Going gluten-free with her daughter who has food allergies, she experienced weight gain and eventually quit the diet. Finding that gluten-free processed foods are lower in fiber and nutrients and higher in starchy calories, sugar, and fat, she realized that these products were just as fatty as their gluten-free counterparts. To continue the diet for her daughter, Lapine explains that she now focuses on foods like beans, fruits, veggies, brown rice, and grains like quinoa and buckwheat.

Whether you are beginning to follow in the footsteps of your favorite celebrity, thinking you might have an intolerance to gluten, or just wishing to try out a new diet trend, you can find many outlets to help you keep your diet healthy. Missy Chase Lapine has authored “The Sneaky Chef” cookbook, a helpful tool to hiding healthy foods in dishes for kids. Magazines such as Simply Gluten Free and Gluten Free Living contain helpful recipes and gluten-free living tips to help you adjust to the new diet. In addition, you can check out, a blog with gluten free recipes, recommendations, videos and links. There are even iPhone apps that will help you find gluten free grocery brands or gluten free restaurants. Whether you’re looking to find a better diet option for food allergies or simply wishing to follow the ways of your favorite celebrity, feel free to find out whether gluten-free is the trend for you.

Featured image courtesy of JMacPherson