March 02, 2015 11:51 AM

Jeff Coolidge/Getty; Courtesy Hungry Girl

Lisa Lillien is the author of the popular Hungry Girl website and email newsletter, featuring smart, funny advice on guilt-free eating. She is also the author of nine books, six of which debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Read her PEOPLE.com blog every Monday for slimmed-down celebrity recipes and more.

It seems like everyone’s on a gluten-free diet these days… Got questions? I’ve got answers.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a naturally occurring protein composite that pops up in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. It helps give bread its chewy texture.

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Why has “gluten” become such a buzzword?

Some people have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, IBS, or related gluten sensitivities. Others just feel better when they avoid gluten. So companies are serving up more and more food options without any gluten. And good news: As of last year, official regulations dictating gluten-free standards are in effect. So if you see gluten-free labeling, you can take it at face value.

So if it’s gluten-free, it’s healthy and diet-friendly… Right?

Not across the board. There’s been no research that supports cutting out gluten as an aid to weight loss or management. But get this: Surveys have shown that many people choose gluten-free products for weight loss or because they think those items are healthier! Remember, a product labeled “gluten-free” isn’t necessarily “nutritious” or “low calorie.”

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So what are some healthy gluten-free foods that are good for weight loss or management?

Glad you asked! Van’s has a fantastic lineup of gluten-free products, from waffles to pasta. Many of Chex’s cereals also qualify. Mediterranean Snacks makes a line of Baked Lentil Chips that are crazy delicious — try the Cucumber Dill flavor! And here’s the gluten-free find of the century: Amy’s Gluten Free Brownies! (HG Tip: Immediately portion out the pan into single servings, because it’s easy to go overboard.) Click here for other great Amy’s products sans gluten.

‘Til next time… Chew the right thing!

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