Gluten-free is NOT a fad

The gluten-free debate has been raging loudly in the media of late.

Apparently anyone who can hold a fork is qualified to comment on whether an individual should go gluten-free, whether gluten-free is a safe option, whether going gluten-free will make you lose weight and whether the whole gluten-free thing is a total fad invented by Gwyneth Paltrow ...

Last week JayJay Harvey nearly sparked a riot on Facebook when she announced that she was trying to cut down on gluten and dairy. It turns out that JayJay is reducing gluten and dairy because she struggles with stomach irritation. Away from her Facebook page, in groups across the site, people speculated about her reasons for going gluten-free, and whether going gluten-free was a good choice.


recent article on Stuff

also led to a barrage of comments – many from people with absolutely zero knowledge of gluten and the physiological response it causes in the intolerant, allergic or auto-immune challenged.

Mis-information and loud opinions abound, and sometimes it would be nice to respond in person to these people and ask them if they’ve ever read a medical journal article, spoken to a coeliac, suffered from an allergic response themselves or even had a quick look on Google.

I’m sure the answer is likely to be “No I haven’t, I’m just a bigot who likes to eat KFC.”

And to you I say this: "At least do your homework before commenting. And damn you for being able to eat convenient, cheap and yummy smelling food."

There are some truths that those of us of the glutey-persuasion would love everyone to read, know, and acknowledge and here they are (with references at the bottom of the page for people who want to read more):

  • Gluten intolerance, gluten allergies and Coeliacs Disease are REAL. It’s not in our head, we’re not just fussy eaters, and real sufferers are definitely not living a gluten-free “lifestyle” for the fun of it.
  • A reaction to gluten can vary from mild discomfort right through to anaphylaxis and death.
  • A reaction to gluten can come in many different forms including eczema, stomach pain, reflux, behavioural issues and more.
  • Whether it’s an allergy, an auto-immune disease or a food intolerance is irrelevant to anyone but the sufferer.
  • Gluten does not make you gain weight. Gluten is a protein that makes food stretchy and sticky. It has little to do with weight gain or loss (unless it’s affecting your thyroid, which is the case for some people). The food that gluten naturally occurs in MAY make you gain weight. For example, if you eat lots of pies (which contain gluten), chances are, you’ll gain weight. However, the same would happen if you ate lots of gluten-free pies.
  • Diagnosis can be difficult. Coeliacs Disease, food allergies and intolerances have a myriad of symptoms, and are often misdiagnosed for years. Although Coeliacs Disease has a generally agreed diagnosis criteria, even the so-called ‘gold standard’ of coeliac testing has recently been called into question by some medical professionals. Testing for gluten intolerance or allergy is fraught with debate, with no set standard of testing approved by the medical profession. This does not mean that gluten allergies and intolerance don’t exist, it just means that we don’t yet have an agreed way to diagnose.
  • A little bit of compassion by people who don’t struggle with food allergies can go a long way towards helping people with a gluten problem to live a happier and healthier life.
  • If you want to change your diet, that’s your business (and your doctor’s). Not anybody else’s.

Take care out there guys!

Note: Coeliacs Disease is not a food allergy, it’s an auto-immune disease. When a coeliac consumes gluten their immune system starts attacking the body leading to a range of really crappy symptoms – which vary from person to person.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. Please see a qualified medical professional before altering your diet.

Extra reading:

Myths about Coeliacs

Definitions of coeliac disease and related terms

Biopsy testing for Coeliacs flawed

Many, many articles about gluten sensitivity and coeliac disease, including informationa bout coeliac testing -