Gluten Free as Fad Diet?

In the May 23rd issue of Time Magazine, there is an article titled “Bad-Mouthing Gluten: What’s behind the craze for gluten-free food.”  A copy of the article has been circulating around the building and soliciting varied responses from employees. Unfortunately, I can’t share the whole article with you and the website doesn’t print the entire article, so you’ll have to find a copy at the store to read it in its entirety.

More than anything, the article brings up the topic of eating gluten free for reasons beyond celiac disease and gluten intolerance. The article quotes a recent survey by Packaged Facts, a market research firm, that showed only 8 to 12% of people who purchase gluten free foods did so because of a health condition that required it. It seems to me that a perception of gluten free as healthier or better for weight loss has been gaining traction in the media. I can’t help but think that this comes from a lack of fully understanding what gluten is and why gluten free foods exist.

I feel lucky to work so closely with people who understand what gluten is and why some people cannot tolerate even the tiniest amount of it. I am grateful to all of you, our customers, who have taught me so much about living a gluten free life and what the efforts we put into our gluten free products mean to you.

What do you think about this trend of eating gluten free for reasons beyond celiac disease and gluten intolerance? We truly want to know.


Celia says:

And this is exactly why I am paranoid about being inadvertently “glutened.” About 50% of the time when I tell people I’m gluten free and can’t eat something I get “well, just a little won’t hurt you”.. Yes, it will. And yes, I will know. I hate “diet” attached to “gluten free” even though it’s technically a correct term. In our society that word seems to imply a manner with which to lose weight, get “toned,” or look better. I don’t have celiac disease, but I have a severe gluten intolerance. I get so worried about eating out and cross-contamination. Treating this like a fad diet really just endangers all of us who have to keep away from gluten for our health. (And by the way, gluten is most likely a problem for some of the people who try it as a “fad,” but THEY won’t take it seriously either if they’re not doing it for long-term medical reasons.)

Amy K says:

I also have severe gluten intolerance, though I only discovered it two years ago. Even small amounts will send me spiraling down a neurotic black hole for over two weeks, along with muscle pain and severe fatigue.

But do you know how hard it is to get a diagnosis of celiac disease? The latest statistic I heard is that it takes on average TEN years to get a proper diagnosis. And that requires enough damage to your intestines that it shows up in a biopsy. No thank you. My mother and brother are both in the midst of constant doctor visits, fighting hard to get diagnosed with a disease that requires you to eat food that HURTS you so you have enough damage to show for it.

Sorry, I don’t think gluten intolerance is a fad. And frankly, I’m sad it’s getting labelled as one, because it means my friends think I’m a weirdo for changing my eating habits. Too bad. I’ll avoid the stuff like the plague for the rest of my life, diagnosis or no. I wish more people would try a gluten-free diet – I honestly think it could be the cause of depression and fatigue for a lot of people.

Victoria says:

When people ask me if I’ve lost weight since going off wheat, my response is “Well, yeah, because I can’t eat a whole lot of things.” Fast food…. I have to hope I can get a salad without any wheat in it. If I am unsure about dressing, the safe route is a litte vinegar and oil. French fries are out at 99% of the places that serve them because of shared cooking oil. Anything fried is pretty much out of the question. So is anything that uses a roux. No pasta. Can’t eat the bread or crackers they put on your table. What is left? Plain, grilled protiens and rice.

I am happy to see manufacturers pay more attention so there can be more foods that are safe. I am happy for places that understand what they need to do when I say “I have a wheat allergy.” I am unhappy about people who do it as a diet fad and not a lifestyle… you make it harder for others to understand that this is not like a diabetic diet where “a little splurge” won’t hurt you.

Margaret Mills says:

It is sad for it to be viewed as a “fad.” I avoid gluten because I can strongly tell the difference in the way I feel. I love that there are more gluten free products available all the time, and that some restaurants are becoming more aware, but I can’t imagine going gluten-free without a really good reason. The constant vigilance is a pain.

redring says:

I hate going out and having the waitress tell me ” my friends on that diet. Its dosent work”. Then bring me croûtons on my salad anyway. Seeing someone ask about cooking for a friend or newly diagnosed on line and then seeing someone respond that they are on that diet and that spelt is ok to eat and that you can have some wheat. The misconception on GF is frankly dangerous!

meika says:

I have seen some of the bad press that gluten is getting these days and it makes me wonder a few things. First, maybe that slice of people who are gluten-sensitive or celiac isn’t as small as we think. Second, when it comes to industrial food production, maybe gluten is the tip of the iceberg. There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests modern methods of grain production give us a product that isn’t fit for human consumption. The Paleo/Primal diet dismisses grains entirely, citing the evils of gluten among the many reasons to avoid grain. More moderate camps recommend switching to sprouted grains because it has a proven track record through history, and some say there’s a reason your grandmother soaked the oatmeal in buttermilk – because it neutralizes the anti-nutrients.
So, for me, the problem with gluten-free-mania is less about trivializing real gluten sensitivity and celiac’s (though that’s very important), and more about marginalizing all the other questions pertaining to how grain fits into the human diet.

leiloni says:

I agree with Margaret Mills, it is sad that it is looked at as a fad that is just not right!

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