Right before I started this blog we went to a gluten free class at our local co-op market. It was a class on what it meant to be gluten free and a taste test of some gluten free products, so a starter gluten free class. Considering that we had be living gluten free for almost a year, we didn’t really expect to learn much and would get a chance to try some gluten free products (which is always a bonus.) We learned a lot more than I expected to, some about gluten free living and some about the Gluticrats who want to be Celitariats.
So, let me start this out by saying that the only Celiacs in the class were me and the instructor. We had a couple of people who might have been non-Celiac gluten sensitives (they really need a better name). I wasn’t sure about the rest of them (some where there because they read that gluten free living could cure arthritis or give them magical powers or something) but considering some of the questions the instructor was asked and their reactions to some of his questions, I feel safe lumping them in with the Wheat Belly crowd.
It came to the point while we were discussing how gluten free starches were more calorically dense than their gluten containing counterparts that one of the attendees in the class asked “If gluten free isn’t healthier, why would anyone eat it?” I have two problems with this question. One, the instructor has just spend 20 minutes discussing what Celiac disease was and how gluten effects those afflicted with it, and two, it sounded like she was asking “if this new food trend didn’t magically make me lose weight why is everyone trying it?” Welcome to the world that invented such wonderful diets and the Lemon aid cleanse and the gummy bear diet. We shouldn’t really question why fad diets exist just what, if any, benefits there are to them.
I totally loved the instruction at this point in time, because he pointed out a really interesting Canadian study that was compared the athletic performance of athletes who were non-celiac and not diagnosed as gluten sensitive. The study basically found that that was no impact on the athletes performance when eating gluten free. They studied the effects of inflammation and overall performance. Go and read it because the whole thing is super interesting. It was a small study, but it’s part of the beginning of debunking some of the gluten free myths out there.
This starts to go down a road that I’ve touched on before, how many people out there are actually eating gluten free when they don’t need to. A recent article in Live Science stated that about 3 times as many people are following a gluten free life style than actually need to. Between 2009 and 2014 the number of diagnosed cases is celiac desease in the America remained staganit (at .7%) yet the number of people following a gluten free diet has risen during the same time period (here’s the abstract of the actual study for you to look at.) The biggest culprits young adults between ages of 20-39, non-hispanic whites, and women.
So why do these people think that eating gluten free is better, well they’re eating less grain in general when they go on a gluten free diet. More fruits and vegetables. Less fast and processed foods. I mean, when we stop putting a bunch of junk in our bodies we’re going to feel better. Good food is good, it tastes better and makes you feel better because you’re giving your body what it really need and not just some processed cheese dusting (I’m looking at your Burger King and the monstrous things you’re doing with Cheetoes.) Sure I miss being able to go out to grab some McDonalds on a long weekend house hunting. But you know what, I feel a lot better going to the grocery store and getting some veggies and hummus and pretzels. Or grabbing a salad. Every whose ever eaten some junk food knows the ache of that stomach shame, and when you’re eating a lot of junk, you feel it all of the time. Just eating better food makes that go away right away. If you do that because you think going gluten free will make you healthier, and you get that placebo reaction, of course going gluten free is making you healthier. And if you’re eating better food and it makes you lose weight, well then eating gluten free makes you lose weight.
I don’t think we need to get into how that starts rumors and myths start, but I’m pretty sure that exactly what we’re seeing here.
Now, there’s been some pluses and minuses for all of the faux Celitariats in America. That rising number of gluten free diets means that more people are eating gluten free foods, meaning there’s more demand. More demand means more supply, so we have them to thank for all of the new gluten free products on the market. But it also means that we have a harder time eating out in the world. We can go to a restaurant and say, “I need gluten free food” but all of these faux Celitariats who are not confined to strict gluten free diet make cross contamination issues much harder on the rest of us.
So, eating gluten free doesn’t make you healthier, unless you have celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but paying attention to what you eat does make you healthier. So pay attention to what you eat and start eating gluten again. This doesn’t mean go out and eat fast food all of the time, but go out and eat better. That is how you will feel better.