Why is Gluten Free Still Considered a Fad?

Why is Gluten Free Still Considered a Fad?

evidence for gluten free diet

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How many women listen to outdated opinions such as the comment above, and it prevents them from embarking on a gluten, dairy or sugar free diet?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.

  • Teresa Tantaro
    Posted at 15:14h, 10 October Reply

    well said Jules, thanks x

    • Jules Galloway
      Posted at 16:00h, 10 October Reply

      You’re welcome, Teresa! I know you share my frustration sometimes 🙂

  • Andrea Westcott
    Posted at 20:36h, 10 October Reply

    Seriously. My son has endured gasticparesis for months a resultant Sibo and large intestine infection-he was termed critically ill. Subsequently diagnosed wih Fructose Malabsorption(fructans in wheat) and allergy(on blood tests ) to wheat by regular amazing paed gi doctor. He was on a very low gluten diet (ie. Outside the home as I am coeliac) prior to becoming so very ill. Even tiny irregular amounts gluten were enough to contribute to his illness. He is not coeliac
    Besides which no-one ever died of a gluten insufficiency / deficiency.
    My symptoms pre coeliac were neurological- ataxia, neuropathy, migraines, vitelligo, endometriosis, skin rashes, musculo-skeletal major joint problems – you cant necessarily see them but it doesnt make them lesser.

    • Jules Galloway
      Posted at 21:21h, 10 October Reply

      “No-one ever died of a gluten insufficiency” – Love it! 😀

  • Natalie
    Posted at 21:04h, 10 October Reply

    I saw this thread, and was just as outraged!! I started a paleo lifestyle due to my husbands intolerances, and have never felt better in my life! It’s not a fad, and not everything can be science based evidence! It’s about listening to your body, and nourishing yourself with nutrient dense foods that make you feel GREAT! Thanks for sticking up for us all!

    • Jules Galloway
      Posted at 21:20h, 10 October Reply

      Thank you Natalie. (Love your website by the way!)

      • Natalie
        Posted at 22:32h, 14 October Reply

        Aw thank you Jules! Love yours too! 🙂 sharing this post on fb, super important topic!

      • Natalie
        Posted at 22:32h, 14 October Reply

        Aw thank you Jules! Love yours too! 🙂 sharing this post on fb, super important topic!

  • Rosie
    Posted at 22:12h, 11 October Reply

    yes, yes and YES! Energies are focused on entirely the wrong things in society! Whilst it is true that some people (the celebrities, the ones which influence the media) still parade the gluten free label like an emblem or an achievement for most of us it’s not a choice at all. This is something I always promote, and I absolutely hate being seen as “annoying” or “difficult” or plain stupid by waitstaff and caterers for not tolerating a single protein?! (okay, so to be far, I also can’t tolerate any high FODMAP foods which makes things difficult and I totally understand that, but again – it’s not exactly a choice!) Very well said article!

    • Jules Galloway
      Posted at 23:07h, 11 October Reply

      Thank you Rosie. I’m glad you’ve found food choices that work for you! I look forward to the day when there’s no more eye rolling over these “special requests.”

  • Marg
    Posted at 19:28h, 13 October Reply

    I was diagnosed coeliac 13 years ago and have followed a very strict gluten free diet since. I still get sick with vomiting and diarrhoea within 2 hours of eating any gluten (usually cross contamination or misinformation). It only takes such a small amount to knock me out. Clearly in 13 years my gut still hasn’t healed properly to still be so sensitive. But I have to say it infuriates me when I say I need gluten free and they ask oh, are you coeliac or just gluten free? Because if you’re coeliac you can’t eat most of the dishes! I strongly agree that nobody needs these grains and they certainly are not a food group or contain any nutrients or vitamins that we need.

    • Jules Galloway
      Posted at 20:11h, 13 October Reply

      That must be so frustrating for you, Marg 🙁

      At least those food outlets are properly educated and being honest. Some outlets claim to be GF but don’t know the first thing about cross-contamination. I’ve worked in many commercial kitchens and I know what it takes to properly sterilise an area and make it safe for food prep for coeliacs. Some smaller cafes and restaurants simply don’t have the space or the ability in terms of logistics. I’d much rather they admit to being unable to do it rather than make unsuspecting people sick. I’ve seen a couple of places use the term “low gluten” recently but that doesn’t work for me – it’s confusing. I’d love to see a new term used like “free from contamination” or something like that!

  • Suzanna
    Posted at 07:46h, 14 October Reply

    This is awesome. I admit. I was one of those people. I laughed at gluten and dairy free diets. Gluten sensitivity was just another craze to me. Until recently I started having my own issues due to hormone deficiencies. I hesitated. I almost kept eating it despite grueling pains it started causing me. But I tried removing it and literally a day and I felt better. I apologize to all who suffer a gluten intolerance and I know understand wholeheartedly the struggle. This article is so perfect. Thank you.

  • Ali
    Posted at 13:54h, 15 October Reply

    I was cheering as I read this article! I am not Celiac but I definitely cannot tolerate gluten or dairy.. I. certainly do not avoid these foods to be trendy, and if people that suggested this spent a day in my body after I have eaten those foods I am sure would maybe not be quite so critical! To go out for any meal, ends up been quite stressful! Thank you for being the voice of frustrated celiac and intolerant people!!

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