Gluten-Free is NOT a Trendy Fad!

by theresa on August 3, 2011

Not a week goes by that I don’t see some article about how a gluten-free diet is fashionable. Seriously? When has anything THIS hard been fashionable? I’m assuming the people who make these statements do so out of ignorance, but maybe I’m wrong. I personally haven’t met anyone who is on a gluten-free diet by choice. I’m sure they exist, but some of the articles I’ve read make it sound like it’s becoming an epidemic.

In an article from last year, “experts” stated that following a gluten-free diet without a medical need could be harmful. I never thought sourdough bread was essential to my well being, or a plateful of whole wheat pasta. No one needs gluten to be healthy. Instead, the article talked about people who want to cut out gluten to lose weight. I’m sure that cutting out all gluten-containing grains and not replacing them with gluten-free versions will likely help your waistline, but if you’re going to go that far, why not just cut all grains?

But then it goes on to say that many foods that are gluten-free are high in sugar. Seriously? Where on earth are they buying their gluten-free foods? A quick look in my pantry finds that one box of gluten-free cereal has only 9 grams of sugar per serving. The exact same amount as the gluten-filled box sitting next to it. The only difference is that the gluten-free cereal is frosted corn flakes and the other one is a non-sweetened cereal. I can only imagine how much sugar the sweetened one would have. And the side panel of my gluten-free crackers shows 0 grams of sugar. I have no idea what gluten-free products they’re talking about, but after looking further through my cabinets, I’m not finding high sugar.

Additionally, the article touts the iron fortification of grains as beneficial to your health. Gluten-free versions are just as fortified. And, if one is going gluten-free for health reasons, likely they understand the importance of a well-balanced diet. A diet rich in colorful vegetation has plenty enough iron and fiber for most people. However, one benefit that is often overlooked is that most gluten-free foods are made with natural ingredients. You’ll be hard-pressed to find something marketed as gluten-free containing high-fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated vegetable oils. I’m not saying there aren’t some preservatives, but by and large, most of the  major manufacturers steer clear of unnatural additives.

Another more recent article calls gluten-free dining “fashionable.” Again, where are these people? In the five years since our first diagnosis, I have yet to meet a single person who eats gluten free for fashion or because it’s hip. It’s HARD. Really, really hard to eat gluten free. You won’t catch someone with celiac sneaking a cookie when no one’s looking. Because as anyone with celiac can tell you, it’s not just an upset stomach that will follow, but likely days of payback, not the least of which is the initial upset stomach.

Now, I’m not saying that people who don’t have celiac, gluten intolerance, or other medical conditions that benefit from a gluten-free diet don’t go gluten free. I’m just saying, I have yet to meet one. And since four out of five of us in my family suffer from celiac, most people we know, know we’re gluten free. You’d think someone would mention in passing that they are too, but do it for the fun and merriment of it all, or because it makes the feel super hip and trendy.

Even though I haven’t met one of these trendy types, I do meet on a very regular basis, people who assume WE are doing it for all the wrong reasons.  I get looks, I get comments, I have acquaintances, who shall remain nameless, who don’t seem to care about our dietary needs if it’s going to inconvenience THEM in any way. I even had someone recently say to me, after my children paid for a lunch in which pizza was a part of it, but that they couldn’t eat, because they wanted the rest of the lunch, say “Oh, so you’re going to let them eat pizza today?”

So let me set the record straight. I don’t prohibit my children from eating foods like pizza, cookies, and bread. They can’t eat it. Period. It’s not a lifestyle choice, it’s a medical condition. It’s not a food allergy. It’s an autoimmune disease.

Just for fun, here is a list of my favorite foods that I will never, ever in my life be able to eat again. And it doesn’t make me feel hip or trendy, or fashionable or empowered. It just makes me feel sad. Very sad.

Boudin’s Sourdough Bread

Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Mrs. Field’s Cookies

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

Bakklava

Anything tempura at my favorite sushi restaurant

Light and flaky buttermilk biscuits from any good home-style restaurant

Apple fritters

Anything from the county fair that has been fried

Microbrewed beers (this one hurts the most)

Apple pancakes, German pancakes or waffles from the Original Pancake House

 

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Toby August 4, 2011 at 12:38 am

I truly feel for you. I have several good friends that are celiac, and dining out for them has become a thing of pain. I’ve worked up several recipes for them to ease the diminishing food roll, but as you know, it just doesn’t cover everything. There are several micro breweries here in GA that make gluten free beers, and a couple that are nation wide.

I know it isn’t much consolation, but I’ve come up with several recipes for several of the things on your list. Alas, it just isn’t the same as going to your favorite restaurant and eating it there.

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theresa August 4, 2011 at 3:57 am

Thanks, Toby. I actually JUST discovered a gluten-free beer from the U.K. It’s a little pricey, but a six-pack still costs less than a draft beer at a national sporting event, so it’s all relative. Even my husband, the only one in our family without celiac said, “Now that’s a good beer. Not just a good gluten-free beer, but a GOOD beer, beer.” Still, not the same as going to a local microbrew and getting a draft on a nitrous pour, but it’s better than nothing.

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jas @ the gluten free scallywag August 28, 2011 at 7:30 am

a-freaking-men! I’m totally with you on this – where are all these people who are gluten free because of the ‘fad’ and just fyi waiter who just turned your now up at me, this is an auto-immune disease, I don’t have a choice, yes, yes I’d much prefer to have the simple pasta on your menu but it’s ok I’ll have the steak and mash with no sauce – thanks!

There are a few gluten free beers available here in Australia, some imported some local. The MCG in Melbourne now sells gluten free beers and pies at their massive sporting events – which is VERY exciting. I love when people take it seriously. Funnily enough, I’ve no problems with any friends or colleagues and I’ve only had one mildly bad experience with waitstaff, otherwise everyone is very helpful!

Here’s to not having a choice, and even feeling better for it!

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theresa August 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Oh man, tell them to export that beer this way! You Aussies know how to make beer! And to everyone who thinks we’re gluten free for the fun and merriment of it all, you’re welcome to come sit with me in the bathroom for hours on end after I’ve accidentally ingested gluten. After just five minutes, you’ll realize this is a very real thing.

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TexasBirdGirl September 3, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Articles like this are SO MISLEADING!!!
After years of feeling like garbage, having continual bloat, stomach aches, fatigue, headaches, irritability, mouth sores, a geographic tongue, and a myriad of other health issues, I decided, to stop eating Gluten. It was not on a whim, but after three weeks of staying with my mom , (who does not eat gluten for medical reasons), I finally started feeling like a human again!!! When I came home, I had some bread, and felt sick almost immediately. The next day, I tried it again…not a good idea. My husband who has had IBS for years, decided to support me, and go GF…guess what? IBS—-GONE! I honestly do not feel sad, about food, I loved, except now that you mentioned baklava!! Anyway, I am learning to cook and bake all over again, but that is okay, because I love cooking and baking. We do not need gluten, we have ruined wheat by increasing the gluten content, and harmed our bodies, by eating ridiculous amounts of something that was meant to be eaten in very small quantities. I pray one day, my 18 year old high functioning autistic son, will leave the gluten behind as well…if being a “fad”, gets us more food on the market, let’s make it a revolution!

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theresa September 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm

That’s been my feeling all along! If someone else’s fad means I can get gluten-free groceries less than 3 miles from my house, I say bring on the fadders!

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angela September 18, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I agree…AMEN! I work in the health care field an EVEN my professional co-workers don’t undersyand why I won’t “just have a little piece of cake”!!!!! Then there are the people who say “oh, so you JUST have a gluten allergy”…like it’s as simple as being allergic to strawberries and eliminating them from my diet.
It’s very frustrating that people don’t understand Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder….which damaged my small intestine, wreaked havoc on my digestive system and left me so tired it was hard to function!…..not just “something you do for attention”…as one of my suggested to me.
Oh my, thanks for letting me vent! Good luck and good health to all!

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