I’m fired up today.
Fired up because last night I witnessed a thread unfold on Facebook that made me realise that there is still so much work to do.
It was in a business group for women that is 19,000-strong, and began with a discussion about a new ad on TV that suggests that 9.1% women are gluten free. The thread started with a comment that included the words “WTF is wrong with our women that they choose to miss out on vital nutrients because it’s fashionable?”
Really??? You think I’m doing this because I follow fashion?
Fashion, fad, pseudoscience, attention-seeker, hypochondriac… I’ve heard them all, and I’ve had a gutful of people being cut down for taking steps to restore their health. Whatever happened to women supporting other women?
(Oh, and side note – I’m not missing out on ANY vital nutrients by eating this way – but that’s another blog post entirely…)
I was reminded of the time recently when this very topic was brought up on a top rating TV show (read my rebuttal here), in that instance the gluten free diet was labelled a “fad” by the co-hosts. Weird… I thought the definition of a “fad” was something that was around for a very short period of time. I’ve been GF for the better part of a decade, and I can’t see it ending anytime soon. Surely we’ve outgrown the “fad” label simply by the sheer amount of time that gluten free foods have been popular?
But what scares me is this:
How many women listen to outdated opinions such as the comment above, and it prevents them from embarking on a gluten, dairy or sugar free diet? How many women are putting off their wellbeing because they don’t want to feel singled out in social situations or risk being labelled as flaky?
We are sick people trying to get well, NOT superficial fad-followers
I’ve been working in the natural health industry for nearly 15 years, I’ve been a qualified practitioner for over 10 of those, I’ve also been GF for a large amount of that time, and I can assure you that the vast majority of people with a gluten intolerance are not “making it up” because they think it’s cool. You know what I think would be cool? Being able to walk into a bakery/cafe/deli/wedding/party and eat anything I want without worrying about feeling sick afterwards. I used to cry my eyes out after social events, wishing I didn’t have to eat this way. I had massive FOMO around food. Worse still, often I would cave in and eat gluten to fit in, so that I wasn’t singled out as being difficult, and then I would feel unwell for days, sometimes weeks. It affected my digestion, my skin, my hormones, my immune system, my energy levels and my mental health.
I can assure you that the majority of my clients don’t feel “fashionable” when they turn down a pizza date with friends or can’t eat the birthday cake at a party. They’ve made a conscious and informed decision to do this for their health’s sake. And it’s bloody hard sometimes.
I was inspired by the (many!) comments that followed in the Facebook thread, detailing personal experiences with a gluten free diet. There were reports of better skin, improved moods, anxiety levels decreasing, thyroid health improving, autoimmune diseases being kept in check… it went on and on. But throughout the thread there remained a vocal few who were keen to debunk the gluten free diet, rather than stop and listen to the vast amounts of evidence before them.
According to some, there are still only two types of gluten sensitivity – coeliac disease, and none.
Seriously – how long do we have to wait before gluten intolerance/non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is accepted? Why are people ignoring the mounting scientific research? Why are those of us being proactive about our health still being singled out as doing it to feel special?
If you want good, solid evidence, watch Cyndi O’Meara‘s new movie “What’s With Wheat.” The experts are there. The studies are there. But for some reason, there are people who would rather stick their heads in the sand and pretend this research doesn’t exist. (Maybe they’re scared they’ll have to give up gluten?)
Honestly, if you want to continue eating gluten (and you’re sure it doesn’t affect you) – FINE! Really – I’m cool with that. Not everyone is gluten intolerant. Not by a long shot. But my job is to support those women who are making the changeover to a healthier diet (one that’s right for them), not to try and win over those intent on disproving the theory. If you can eat gluten without repercussions – lucky you! Have some for me. But all I ask is that you don’t go after the ones who are making these changes in their lives.
We live in a nation that is increasingly overweight, where type two diabetes is rife, where conditions like autism, depression, anxiety and ADHD are increasing, where there are unprecedented amounts of chemicals being put in our foods, and now we’ve used so many antibiotics that we have created unprecedented resistance. And we’re putting our energies into debunking a gluten free diet? I think we need a shift in our priorities here.
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