Are you following a gluten-free diet because you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance? If so, you should know that following such a restrictive diet may cause depression, eating disorders, or impaired quality of life. A new report examines the toll of a gluten-free diet.

The study, led by researchers at Penn State, Drexel, and Syracuse, was recently published in the journalChronic Illness.It looked at surveys from women suffering from celiac disease who were following a diet free from gluten and wheat products. The researchers found that women who followed the strictest gluten-free diets reported higher degrees of depression, stress, and body image concerns compared with women who were not on a gluten-free diet.

Study co-author Josh Smyth of Penn State notes that celiac disease not only requires those diagnosed to follow a gluten-free diet, it also increases ‘psychological distress,’ particularly in social situations involving eating. “Going out to eat with friends or to a holiday potluck is a much different experience for these people because they have to be vigilant and monitor their diets,’’ he said, explaining “They may feel that they are a burden on a host or hostess.”

The results of this study could have implications for those with other food allergies and other health conditions requiring a restricted diet.

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