Isn’t Gluten-Free Eating Just a Fad?
Over and over I hear this question. I understand why, too. Everywhere, food labels advertise “gluten-free!” even on items like honey or yogurt. And often, gluten-free labeled foods have a higher price tag (sometimes ridiculously high!) It could seem like someone decided to try to capitalize on this eating trend with the objective of making a bundle of profits from the unsuspecting health-seeking public.
There’s a certain ring of truth to this idea, of course. Gluten-free does not always mean “healthy.” Far from it! Many gluten-free packaged goods are full of sugar and/or are highly processed, and can even be much less salubrious than their “regular” counterparts.
If you talk to the average gluten-free consumer, however, you get a pretty different picture. As a health coach, I can tell you that no one I know of sets out to become gluten-free just for fun. Usually, when someone has clear warning signals of gluten-intolerance or Celiac disease, there is first a period of denial. “Oh, I don’t feel too bad, really.” Following this is the cry “but what will I eat?!?”
Once an elimination diet has been completed, and it’s certain that the person must avoid gluten, there is usually a period of “cheating.” I know this only too well; my cheating days lasted for years. “I think I’m okay with just a little bit of gluten,” I’d say to myself. “This little handful of Cheeze-its won’t hurt me.” Oh brother…
When I learned the facts about what was really going on in my gut during these times, and when I considered the fact that, in spite of my hard work to correct my digestive distress, I still was actually getting worse, I had to admit it would be worth it to really try going completely gluten-free. Eventually, I was in so much pain that it seemed just plain stupid not to try it.
For a person who is gluten intolerant, every ingestion of gluten is an assault to the gut, leading to hidden inflammation, a condition called “leaky gut,” compromised immunity, and many times, compounding the noticeable outward symptoms such as gas, bloating, pain, and elimination problems. Symptoms can also include brain fog, other psychological issues, and more. Once the intestines are letting undigested particles of foods through, into areas where they don’t belong, the immune system identifies these particles as “the enemy,” causing further inflammation and symptoms. There’s really no way to stop these results until the offending food is eliminated and the gut is healed. (Sugar can have a similar effect.)
I’ve been traveling this road for my whole life. I can’t remember a time when my digestion has been good, until the past couple of years. Even though I never wanted to give up wheat & gluten, it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done for improving my health. Since I also had other sensitivities, and I wasn’t too systematic or diligent, it’s taken many years to get everything normalized for me. I can honestly say that I don’t miss the foods I live without, for the most part.
Unfortunately, more & more folks, including many children, are discovering that they are sensitive to gluten. This trend is unlikely to reverse in the near future. It is alarming to realize that since the early 1990’s, when genetically modified wheat made it’s appearance in America, wheat allergies have affected increasingly larger percentages of children. Other common allergens are also genetically modified, such as corn and peanuts.
So, not only is gluten intolerance not a “fad,” but food intolerances are on the rise, in general. As a health coach, part of my life’s mission is to be of service to people affected by these issues–and that’s lots of us! Contact me to learn more. I will be posting more on this topic in future blog posts.