How the ”gluten free” cliché is affecting people who need to follow the diet.

It is a fact that going gluten free has become trendy for some. For others, who suffer from coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity abstaining from gluten is not an option but a necessity. But sadly, some people seem to have difficulty separating the facts from the fad, and regard the above mentioned conditions with a certain disbelief or humour.

gf

I came across an article that was, according to the author ‘written in jest’. It is titled ‘Confessions of a Wannabe Celiac‘.

It can be viewed by clicking on this link: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/01/confessions-of-a-wannabe-celiac/

I have so many problems with this article, starting with the title, and ending with the comments the author left in reply to fellow coeliacs who like me, felt that this post was inappropriate.

A wannabe celiac?– Seriously, if a person truly knew what this disease was, would they want to have it?

If this were titled ‘Confessions of a wannabe diabetic’ or ‘confessions of a wannabe cardiac disease sufferer’, nobody would find this funny. But then again, it is not trendy to be diabetic, or have any other serious disease. So why should this be funny?

______________________________

The author wrote this piece claiming that because of her poor culinary skills, and because of her love of gluten, she wished that she could not eat gluten. In her own words:

The truth is, I wish I was allergic to gluten. I wish it made my throat swell and I wish it made me gain weight like mad and I wish it made me feel too lethargic to leave my bed.

Because then, life would be easier. It would be so easy to just give up on baking and cooking waffles. Muffins. Brownies. Cookies. Everything that I have made and burned and fed people in hopes that they wouldn’t hate me after the dinner party was over.

Her life would be so much easier? I think this author and anybody else who thinks or dares to utter statements like these needs a little education and awareness about a few things.

The term gluten allergy is not an accepted medical condition. The correct terms are Coeliac disease, non coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) or what is known as gluten intolerance and wheat allergy and they are 3 different medical conditions.

  • Coeliac disease is an auto- immune condition in which gluten triggers the immune system to attack the small intestine. Repeated ingestion of gluten results in poor absorbtion of nutrients from the small intestine and if undiagnosed can lead to infertility, osteoporosis, anaemia, neurological problems, tooth decay and in a small percentage some forms of cancer and lymphoma. The only treatment is a strict gluten free diet for life. Even a trace amount of gluten is harmful for coeliacs and they have to spend their lives reading labels, and worrying about cross contamination and hidden gluten in ingredients.
  • People with gluten sensitivity experience gastrointestinal symptoms when gluten is ingested. Although it is not an auto immune condition, present guidelines suggest that these individuals can experience symptoms similar to those of coeliac disease. No long term damage appears to occur when gluten is ingested. However research on this relatively new condition will hopefully give us more insight about this condition.
  • A wheat allergy is an allergic reaction to wheat, in which the person suffers from near-immediate or slightly delayed (by no more than a few hours) symptoms following a meal that includes wheat products. Symptoms are often respiratory in nature (stuffy nose, wheezing, watery eyes) but in the most serious cases can include difficulty breathing and shock.

But then, apparently the problems  people with the above medical conditions are nothing compared to the author’s. She actually has to go through the horror of daily life because of her severe problems. She actually wrote:

The most severe of gluten allergies would be less severe than the problems I currently experience:

Ginger snaps make me horny.

Biscotti makes me foam at the mouth.

Waffles (not my own, obviously) make me walk like a zombie toward the breakfast table.

Funfetti cake makes my skip and sing like a child on a pony at her eighth birthday party.

Brownies make my gyrate with glee.

I would run at the speed of light to receive a warm, drizzling cinnamon roll from a nice grandma in an apron.

The last chocolate dipped peanut butter cookie in the bin at the store makes me ravenous and willing to plow down anyone who is in my way.

I am sure this author and countless other people who treat the gluten free diet as a trend do not realise that people with medical conditions that warrant this special diet spend their lives agonising about dining out, reading labels to search for hidden gluten ingredients, worrying about cross contamination and wishing that just once, they could join in with others without risking being labelled as fussy.

But the thing that bothered me most about this author was the responses she gave to people who tried to inform her about coeliac disease or complained about the article. At one point she actually told a coeliac to stop playing the victim and lighten up.

___________________________

I do know that thanks to the rise in popularity of the diet, the gluten-free industry has literally exploded, with an ever increasing range of products available.  More and more restaurants and businesses are claiming to serve gluten-free food, although, at the moment, anybody can put a gluten-free claim on their product.

bun

But I am also sure that many others are treating the gluten free diet as a joke. And this is only made worse by articles like the one written by this wannabe coeliac.

What do you think about this?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/santos/55586341/”>chotda</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sifu_renka/5084629421/“>Renée S. Suen</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com/“>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/“>cc</a>

Advertisements

One thought on “How the ”gluten free” cliché is affecting people who need to follow the diet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s