3 Surprising Expenses That Made Me Regret My Year Of Being Gluten-Free

At first, going gluten-free was great. After watching my mom go gluten-free because of a three-month experience on a meal plan, I wanted to try it too. It helped her lose twenty pounds, so I assumed that I would lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle if I planned my meals on my own. At the end of the summer of 2015, I stopped eating gluten products. Around the same time the next year, I quit. My experience living gluten-free wasn’t as beneficial as I thought it would be, and instead, I was paying unreasonable prices for minimal results. Gluten-free living was supposed to change me for the better, but instead, it just dipped into my wallet. I ended up spending money on three major expenses and constantly re-accommodated my budget to maintain my new lifestyle.

1. Gluten-free food.

Living a gluten-free life began with changing the types of carbs that I consumed on a daily bases. Once I changed my diet, I often shopped at Whole Foods for alternatives. I would purchase gluten-free pastas, breads and deserts in order to fill the carb gap. I ended up buying boxes and boxes of pasta because I love to cook Italian dishes, but after a few months, I realized I was wasting a lot of money. The pasta didn’t taste that great to begin with, and went bad within two to three days of being cooked. I would try and cook often, but I found myself throwing out more gluten-free pasta than I could eat.

When it came to buying bread products, I noticed I was paying double the normal price. For a single pack of five frozen gluten-free bagels I would pay $7.99! Desserts were expensive too. Instead of paying $2.50 for a chocolate muffin, I paid double, and it hardly tasted as good as the regular old gluten-y ones. One time on my way to the city, I found a little shop that had a few gluten-free items. I grabbed the first gluten-free brownie I saw, made my purchase and tried it out. I still regret paying for it, to this day. It tasted bitter, and I missed real brownies so much that when my birthday rolled around, I gave myself a week’s worth of “cheat day” moments.

2. Gluten-free makeup and hair products.

Finding quality makeup products to fit my combination skin had always been a challenge for me, but going gluten-free limited everything from the types of lipstick I could wear to the concealer I used. Everything had to change. Often, I wouldn’t know what to buy, and ended up going without makeup at all. It then turned out that my shampoo and conditioner each had gluten in them, so I switched over to products without it. Searching for the right products was a hassle, as well as expensive. I did find a few new products that I still use today, but again, they were costly.

3. Lots of supplements and vitamins.

I never needed to have vitamins in my diet before I went gluten-free. But once I cut out certain foods,  I was receiving even less Vitamin B and Iron. I have a low iron count in general, so with this change, I had to turn to vitamins and supplements in order to fill the gap in my nutrition. This was another monthly expense that I wasn’t necessarily expecting to come with my gluten-free lifestyle.


I did see a few improvements with going gluten-free. I lost a noticeable amount of weight, my skin cleared up, and I was aware of the products that I used on a daily bases. After a while, though, everything plateaued; I wasn’t losing any more weight, and my skin remained the same. But this was because I had to cut out most desserts, and the majority of my carb content. I lost weight because I was cutting out high-calorie foods, not specifically because I went gluten free. The only thing that was still changing after a few months was my funds! Going gluten-free practically broke the bank. The extra expense for groceries, the change in products, and the purchase of supplements were three expenses that weren’t worth the trouble.

Instead, I decided to change my lifestyle again. This time, I would focus on eating healthy in general, and cutting out sweets instead of being gluten-free. (I missed real bread, anyway.) I now focus my diet on eating lean proteins, low carbs, and fresh vegetables instead. I enjoy the occasional dessert, too, but mainly I focus on having a well-rounded diet that doesn’t break the bank. My year going gluten-free did instill in me a deep sympathy for people with Celiac disease and autoimmune issues that cause them to remove gluten from their lifestyles out of necessity. Because if I could go back and do it again, I wouldn’t. The expenses aren’t worth it, and it’s something to consider if you are thinking about going gluten-free.

Sara Cheesewright is an avid reader, writer and blogger. She loves to travel, take photos, and sit around sipping coffee while swapping stories with her friends. 

Image via Unsplash

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  • Tara

    Okay…this is everything that’s wrong with fad dieting. Gluten-free is a medical issue, not a weight loss regime. What’s the point of cutting out gluten if it’s not medically necessary just to replace it all with carb substitutes? If you actually wanted to live a healthier life without gluten, shouldn’t you have cut out all those carby things and not replaced them with gluten-free versions, but rather eat more vegetables/fruits, rice cakes, etc? Everything about this makes no sense, including your decision to spend a lot of money on substitutes that you did not need.

    Also, it’s Celiac Disease, not Celiac’s.

  • Nila B

    I think it should have been sign when all the big name brands jumped on to the “gluten-free” wagon that we all needed to take a second look. Just like when the “fat-free!” craze happened (still happening?) and fats were replaced with piles of sugar. Eating healthy is simpler than a lot of people think. There isn’t a catch, just be more conscious of what you are putting in your body. But simple doesn’t always mean easy.

    • Summer

      this. so annoying to see a carton of orange juice or something that OBVIOUSLY wouldn’t contain gluten in the first place boast a “gluten-free!” label.

      • crazygemini12

        I think part of the reason that happens with things like OJ is that gluten-like HCFS-is often lurking in places many who do have allergies may not think they’d be. That’s what’s scary about seeing “gluten-free!” on sour cream or whatever: they’re putting it on the label because somewhere some company IS using it in a product that probably shouldn’t have it (typically as a binder).

  • Mrs. Stamper

    If your goal was to lead a healthier life and possibly lose weight, why on earth did you have to find new gluten-free shampoo and cosmetics?? That is only necessary if you have an actual gluten sensitivity or allergy. Those products aren’t necessarily better and do not contribute to a “healthier lifestyle,” they just meant you were buying products you didn’t need!

  • marg647

    Going gluten-free isn’t automatically healthy in and of itself and you definitely didn’t go about it right. I’ve been gluten-free for six years because I had wretched acid reflux and looked eight months preggo all the time so it has helped me immensely in feeling better and while when I’m dining out its a pain that its $3 more for a bowl of pasta but day to day it did not impact my finances. A lot of products don’t actually have gluten and if you’re savvy about it you won’t pay more.

    To your first point: you don’t need to be replacing bread and pasta with direct substitutes or you’ll pay a crazy prices and you won’t lose weight. Things that are gluten free and don’t cost a ton: rice, rice pasta, rice cakes, corn chips, corn tortillas, soba noodles, sweet potatoes, potatoes, lentils. These are also CHEAP carbs.

    To your second point: most cosmetics don’t have gluten to my knowledge. you were paying a price to have the packaging scream GLUTEN FREE

    To your third point: supplements aren’t that expensive I spend maybe 150$ on them per year and I take iron, B6+12, magnesium and a D vitamin. I am both gluten free and vegan. But where you really get your iron and B12 is actually animal products not gluten products.

    • Tara

      Maybe you should write a rebuttal that actually explains the costs/benefits/detractions of being seriously gluten-free! Seems like you know a lot.

      • Ros

        Benefits: IF you have an issue with gluten, being gluten-free will make you feel better. (I had incredibly annoying and continual eczema that completely disappears based on my diet, for example. Not itching and having my skin peel off = worth the inconvenience.)

        But unless you have clear symptoms that you can relate back to your diet, wheat is healthier (for most people) than most GF replacement foods, so vague “for health!” reasons are… eye-rolling fad diet.

    • Ros

      Yes to everything about “cheap” gluten-free carbs! And frankly – fake foods (gluten-free bagels, say) mostly taste like utter crap and are 3 times the price. NOT worth it. Give me a breakfast quesadilla on a corn tortilla and we’re talking.

  • Gab

    There’s nothing wrong with trying a gluten free diet, as someone with the disease I can say I am not the least bit offended and some of you need to slow your role. The writer was simply trying to find different ways to loose weight and yes being gluten free is a trend but it’s beinficial for us people with Celiac Disease. The more people aware and the more people trying to maintain this sort of life style, even though they have a choice are able to help companies create more gluten free items. For instinct the brownies she had, I have never had a gluten brownie and bringing that to the attention of corporations that their food does not taste similar enough to the real one can help them bring it closer to the taste. People who have been diagnosed since they were young don’t get the option of trying it with and without so it’s up to the people who don’t have the issue with eating both to help improve our products. Not everything in meant to be taken in negative terms and I gaurentee this writer did not mean it that way. She simply stated what she though could help others and all of you need to take a second and calm down

    • marg647

      There’s nothing wrong with trying a GF diet and I very much think it can be beneficial even for people without a medically diagnosed gluten intolerance and/or who don’t experience severe symptoms when they eat gluten and I’m sure the author didn’t mean it in an offensive way but this is an incredibly uneducated view point of the dietary choice to go GF and I’m surprised the TFD editorial team didn’t look it over more. No offense but thinking switching bagels for gluten free bagels will help you lose 5lbs can easily be refuted with a simple google search.

      This on trend version of GF is the exact reason people don’t take Celiac’s disease and actual gluten intolerance seriously and why I get told multiple times per year that my dietary choice is “just a fad.”