The boys are watching an episode of Scooby-Doo where they’re battling the gluten demon, and the good guys are gluten-free…
— Julie Van Rosendaal (@dinnerwithjulie) October 8, 2013
One of the Scooby Doo bad guys is a Gluten Demon. I know. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s real.
The Gluten Demon appeared in season 2 of Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated, a 2010 edition of the classic cartoon. It was a disguise used by Francilee Jackson to destroy all the restaurants in Crystal Cove so that there would be no competition when she opened hers.Of course gluten would be cast as a villain in this modern era. When it comes to dietary trends gluten is the anti-kale.
But why? What did gluten ever do to you?
I’m not a dietitian or a scientist, but I’ll gladly play one for you on the internet.
I understand some people are celiacs, but honestly, you can rate the gluten-free movement right up there with the anti-vaccine crowd. It all seems like much ado about nothing, to be honest. That said, that was my headline bias. I have no reason to chase a gluten-free diet, and just see it popping up on menus like it’s a low carb, high protein, low fat, low sodium, low cal gimmick.
Why the gluten-free frenzy?
People responding to a survey from an online gluten-free retailer (consider the source and audience bias) say they have an upset stomach from eating food with gluten. I had a colleague yesterday tell me that gluten made her feel “itchy.”
The opposite, however, is actually true. If you are eating gluten-free, when you don’t have legitimate health reasons to do so, it actually does more harm than good.
“The market for gluten-free products is exploding. Many people may just perceive that a gluten-free diet is healthier,” Peter H.R. Green, MD, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, told WebMD. In fact, he continued, the opposite is true. “[U]nless people are very careful, a gluten-free diet can lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber.”
The explosion of the dietary trend gets even curiouser when you understand that only about 1% of the US population has celiac disease and of that, only 5%-10% are ever diagnosed because celiacs rarely exhibit symptoms.That means 150 000 – 300 000 people out of a population of 313 million have been diagnosed with celiac disease. And yet here we are, with gluten free pizza dough advertised by huge national chains like Domino’s. Why are they pushing a product that .05% to .1% of the population needs?
Going gluten free is trendy. It’s cool. It’s the new Atkins Diet.
There really is nothing more to it other than that. Going GF is the pet rock du jour of dieting.
As with other dietary trends, food manufacturers will highlight one benefit at the detriment of others. Making foods gluten free often results in higher fat, higher calorie meals. Yes, they will be labeled gluten-free and people buy it as healthier, but it’s no longer balanced. We saw the same problem with low fat was a trend. Fat was dropped, sugar was upped.
Gluten free is a feature, not a benefit
Then there are those that say choosing gluten free diet doesn’t go far enough. William Davis is the author of Wheat Belly and admits that gluten free foods are often made with “junk carbohydrate ingredients” — corn flour, rice flour, potato starch and corn starch — which he says raise blood sugar and are contributing factors to hypertension, cataracts, heart disease and cancer.”
He thinks going gluten free isn’t going far enough and advocates removing wheat entirely from your diet.
That doesn’t sit well with the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Canada’s Food Guide who all continue to recommend whole grains as part of a healthy diet.
Am I off base with the bias that the gluten free diet is little more than a trend? What are the reasons you’ve gone gluten free?