The gluten free fad

I hear 29 percent of Americans are trying to cut gluten out of their diets. It’s an interesting trend considering most of these individuals don’t have celiac disease. For celiacs, gluten is truly a menace. A proper diagnosis of this condition is essential and consuming gluten creates a dangerous situation.

But, then we have those who treat gluten like the latest fad diet. From an interesting article on Jezebel by celiac sufferer Elissa Strauss:

You see, when something that is medically necessary for some of us becomes something cool and trendy for the rest of the world, shit gets messed up. Waiters, thinking I am just another ankle-boot wearing Gwyneth wannabe, no longer take me seriously. It is actually harder for me to eat out now than it was a few years ago because a little dusting of flour on a piece of flounder equals a few days in bed for me.

And those red velvet cupcakes? They are now often stuffed alongside their gluten-containing counterparts in bakery displays. Considering even a few splashes of soy sauce, in which wheat is a minor ingredient, can trigger my celiac, a few crumbs of something not gluten-free is just not an option for me. Now I am nostalgic for the days when we were a fringe movement instead of a Miley Cyrus-endorsed lifestyle.

Though here I am, going on and on explaining why you should stop eating gluten-free food just to protect people like me, when you should really stop eating it to protect yourself.

The author has a very valid point. It also gets better:

As I mentioned already, gluten-free is not the answer to your dieting needs. Remember when we all went gaga for fat-free diets in the late 90s and guiltlessly swallowed entire packages of Snackwells devils food cookies and then couldn’t figure out why we weren’t losing weight? Exactly. I have met many a celiac over the years, and I promise we wouldn’t all pass your supermarket tabloids “bikini body” test. Considering that many gluten-free goods are higher in fat to substitute for the missing gluten — which literally holds baked goods together — a gluten-free diet can actually leave us worse off, weight-wise.

Yes, I remember the “fat free” days of yore. I recall people eating fat free candy, fat free cookies, fat free junk, wondering why they didn’t lose weight, then blamed the carbs, not the excess calories. Jeepers.

For those of you who swear off gluten not because you want to lose weight, but just because you think it will make you healthier: please stick with the whole wheat. Fiber is one of the most important things you can eat for health’s sake and it is extremely difficult (and pricey, see below) to get your hands on when you are strictly gluten-free. Also, for people with no sensitivity to gluten, a slice of whole wheat bread is by no means worse for you than a slice of teff, garbanzo bean and brown rice fiber bread. And the whole wheat bread will be, at least, one million times more delicious.

Yes! Fiber. Barely any calories, keeps things moving along in the bowel… it’s a wonderful substance.

Then we have the cost differences between gluten free and standard baked goods.

Also, this life is expensive! Literally, on average, 242% more expensive, according to researchers from the Dalhousie Medical School in Canada. Let me break this down for you: pretzels can run $5-$6 a bag, individual sized pizzas around $15-$20 at restaurants and even $11 for crappy tasting ones from the market, and cupcakes and muffins are in the $4 range. I just spent $12 on a whole-grain gluten-free loaf the other day and didn’t think twice about it, because this is just my life. But it doesn’t have to be yours.

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  • Jenn

    I was totally relating to this until I got to the end, and…wait, who’s the author? Who are these words of wisdom coming from? And how do you relate to them?

    Just curious, it’d add a lot of context to the post…

    • Jenn

      Okay, I just saw the Link link…I guess it would have been a bit more interesting if you referred us directly to the article or spoke about why you were quoting such large parts. Have I been in grad school too long?

      • Hey Jenn,

        Thanks for your comment. You have a very valid point. I’ve edited the post to reflect your suggestion. Thanks much for your eagle eye and thanks for dropping by. — Beth 🙂