A memoir from a gluten-free dietitian that is sick and tired of all the diet-shaming.
There are a lot of people with a lot to say about why we shouldn’t follow a gluten-free diet. So, there are a few things I’d like to clear up:
1. Gluten-free food is real food.
The vast majority of gluten-containing products only become food after they hit the processing plant.
I would say “all” products, but Lord knows there are approximately three sources of whole-plant foods that contain gluten and are unprocessed, and that same Lord also knows that there are going to be three people that have eaten those sources in the last year and will of course comment as much.
The rest of the anti-gluten-free activists can go bite a stalk of wheat—except, no, they can’t.
2. My gluten-free blood pressure could quite possibly kick your glutenous blood pressure’s butt.
On average, Americans eat more than double the recommended amount of daily sodium. Would you like to take a gander at the numero uno source of sodium in the American diet?
Now let’s move on to the important ingredients in bread that I am at risk of becoming deficient in, which might negatively affect my health…. [crickets].
3. You judged our gluten-free grocery receipts before you knew them.
Somewhere along the line, not putting processed foods into my cart became equated with a more expensive grocery list.
Yes, that may be the case if I was replacing processed flour-foods with other processed, gluten-free foods, but you know what? I’m not.
Not buying select items will not ever amount to spending more. Your reasoning, my friend, is weird.
4. We cook more and eat out less.
I’d like to say this is because of my harder-than-hard will power. It’s not.
Fast food restaurants don’t cater to the gluten-free crowd, and I’m a healthier person for it. There are many nights-o-glory when I’d have gladly bee-lined for a nacho supreme or Mc-Something, countless mornings in the office when I’d have downed the hatch on at least 2 bagels. My limited options make my will power look damn sexy.
5. We really just enjoy feeling good.
I know that’s offensive. I know.
Scientists and statistics are being quoted left and right in some sort of strange battle for nutrition hierarchy. From what I can make of it:
No restrictions > Celiac Disease > Person who does not eat gluten > Spice Girls.
I’m a practicing, clinical dietitian, so this is hard for me to say, but…
For now, who gives about the science?
We use science to prove what we intuitively know. The science will come around eventually, but in the meantime, I’m going to go ahead and not eat things that make me feel sick.
Why on Earth anybody should force-feed themselves food that makes them feel ill until their same symptoms can be reproduced in a lab and published in a paper is beyond me.
To be clear, I don’t advocate that everybody should eat this way.
Eating a gluten-free diet leads to eating less processed foods, less sodium and higher nutrient content due to the lack of displacement with empty, processed carb calories. That being said, some people have other sh*t to worry about. I get it. So no, I don’t think everybody needs to eat this way, or any one way for that matter.
Continue to eat food that makes you feel good, and we gluten-free phenoms will continue to do the same.
Why don’t we argue whether the choice to not eat Rocky Mountain oysters is a medical necessity?
It would sound something like this:
“Do you eat Rocky Mountain oysters?”
“No! I don’t eat bull testes! That makes me want to vomit.”
“No way. Science has never proven that bull testicles make you want to vomit! Eat it!”
“Yeah, but dude—they do. Woah. I just thought of them, and I already taste vomit in my mouth.”
“There is no medical reason that you taste vomit in your mouth just from thinking of them! Actually, there was once a study that showed bull testes may be linked with the taste of vomit in your mouth, but this cross-analysis found that what you were tasting was likely not vomit at all.”
“Chill out, brah. I’m not that upset about not eating animal testes fried in batter. Let’s go play frisbee.”
“Science has not proven a medical reason that you want to vomit when you think about eating fried Rocky Mountain Oysters! Science! Research! Papers, statistics, Barbra Streisand!”
“Ok.” [Walks away to play frisbee.]
Any attack on dietary choices or restrictions that result in healthier eating is a strange waste of time and energy.
1. ”Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Brittany Wright
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Michael Mandiberg/Flickr