Do you HAVE to be?…now THAT is the question!
We all know that “Going Gluten-Free” for those that do not medically require it has been the coolest thing since sliced bread (J) for quite some time now. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of people-watching and a good deal of eaves-dropping too (its amazing what people will say when they don’t think anyone is listening or at least when they don’t know who is listening). I’m most interested to hear what people think and believe about Celiac Disease and being gluten-free when they have no idea I am “The One” (celiac inside-joke J)!
Despite the fact that professional research organizations and medical authorities, like Dr. Alessio Fasano (a world renowned gluten-related disease researcher), strongly state over and over again that “there is no substantiated evidence to suggest that a gluten-free diet is healthier” than a gluten-full diet for those that do not medically require the restriction, people continue to push the gluten-free “diet” as the healthiest “choice” for everyone. Anecdotal information on the internet and TV about “choosing to be gluten-free” is piling up like the gfree pancakes I make on Saturday mornings!
While I think its great for people to make their own healthy choices, I just can’t bring myself to get behind the “Gluten-Free By Choice” camp for a couple of reasons:
1. The healthiest way to eat, and this is by no means a novel idea, means including a variety of all different types of foods, colors, flavors, tastes…in balance and moderation.
2. You should never restrict or completely avoid any one food or category of food unless medically necessary (as is the case with Celiac Disease, anaphylactic food allergies, etc.)
a. The avoidance or complete restriction of a food or food group requires careful attention to ensure that you don’t become deficient in any vitamins or minerals and this can be a difficult thing to manage.
b. In fact, whole wheat is one of the best sources of fiber and its packed with vitamins and minerals!
3. Last, but certainly not least, people too often claim to be on a gfree diet when in reality they are merely avoiding wheat. Most (not all) who elect to eat gluten-free do not think twice about cross-contamination, or the ‘hidden’ sources of gluten. Oooh yeaaah, I see you…at Trader Joes…I envy you: strolling the aisles, dropping beautiful, hearty, convenient, delicious looking “no gluten ingredients” ready-to-eat meals in your basket, without even so much as glancing at the label…because if you did, you would have seen that its processed on the same equipment as wheat-containing products and they cannot guarantee that the products hasn’t been cross-contaminated with gluten. If you weren’t choosing to be gfree but instead had to be, you’d be with me with your head in the Trader Joe’s gluten-free worksheet knocking small children over as you clumsily zig-zag through the store!
Frankly those that elect to be gluten-free and their ‘different’/often relaxed approach to it, are contributing to a culture and atmosphere in which the public views gluten-free as a choice…and not a very serious one. Instead, for those of us with a medical necessity, evading gluten at all costs (including cross-contamination, sources of hidden gluten, etc.) has never been about weight loss or preventing the infamous Wheat Belly (another day, another blog post), but is about preventing debilitating disease and cancers, delaying the onset or better managing other autoimmune diseases, and ultimately having a better quality of life.
I don’t choose to be gluten-free…I have to be!