Today, I read an article slash advert in a local magazine called Cibus, that was distributed with today’s Sunday newspaper. It was titled, ‘This summer, go gluten free!’. The title itself sparked my curiosity and encouraged me to read more with a sense of trepidation. I half expected what was coming.
The article starts by saying that summer means a more health conscious and nutritious way of eating for many people, then goes on to say that with the many health benefits of gluten free products, they are a perfect way to obtain a healthier palate.
Now lets stop right here. I would like to explain several problems I have with this article.
1. It is promoting the consumption of gluten free products (as opposed to natural gluten free foods) with the idea of health. The photo right below this article was of ready made frozen meals that are definately not healthy. Gluten free products are often high in sugars and salt, and high in fats. They can also be lower in fiber,calcium, iron, phosphate, zinc, folate, niacin, and B12 than gluten containing counterparts.
2. Why go gluten free for summer, and not for winter? Is it because of the simplicity of healting up a frozen ready made meal? If so, that does not make sense, because frozen meals can be found in greater abundance and choice in gluten containing meals. Or is it playing on the misconception that gluten free products are great for weight loss? Remember, they are not talking about a healthy diet full of gluten free natural high fiber foods here, they are talking about highly processed gluten free products.
3. It gives the sense that gluten is somehow harmful or unhealthy, yet there is no mention of coeliac disease, non coeliac gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy anywhere in the article.
4. It is not stated anywhere that one should get tested for coeliac disease before gluten is eliminated from one’s diet. To get a correct diagnosis, gluten must still be consumed when testing for coeliac disease. Even a small footnote explaining this would have been expected in this case.
People with gluten related disorders do not have the luxury of going gluten free for summer only. People with coeliac disease have to ‘go gluten free’ for life. For the majority of the population who do not suffer from any of the disorders that are related to gluten, a gluten free diet is a choice. Common misconceptions include the idea that gluten is inflammatory for everybody, that it causes auto-immune diseases, and many others. People follow a gluten free diet full of gluten free products for health benefits and the idea of weight loss, thanks in part to clever marketing strategies like this one.
And that is exactly what this is. Marketing.
But in the process, a little education about the need for testing and a short note about gluten related disorders would not have gone amiss.
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/huffstutterrobertl/4197449219/”>roberthuffstutter</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>