About five years ago, I was packing away fiber one bars (gasp!) and wondering why I had so many digestive problems. Then I changed my diet drastically and started eating cream of wheat for breakfast every morning. In fact, I was eating a variety labelled as having extra protein. Essentially, a bowl of gluten. I ate it every day, first thing in the morning, before I ate anything else.
It wasn’t long before recurrently, I was doubled over in pain, with numerous other gastrointestinal assaults happening after I ate my cream of wheat. At that point, I had no knowledge of the gluten free world, I didn’t even know what Celiac’s disease was really, other than what I had heard on the TV show House. I hadn’t read “Wheat Belly” or read any articles on the internet about gluten.
But I did research then to figure out what warranted these morning ambushes. And thanks to the isolation of what I was eating, there was no other conclusion for me besides gluten intolerance or Celiac’s disease. And sure enough, when I switched to oatmeal and eliminated wheat, the attacks stopped.
I retested twice that same year. Once with a pretzel cone once with a giant cookie. The results were different than the cream of wheat had been and much worse. It started with no immediate effect and escalated to days of stomach burning, migraines, diarrhea and depression.
After adopting and refining my gluten free lifestyle, I began to see glimpses of intolerance and dubious looks from friends. I understood from several that my self diagnosis was in question. It was mildly annoying. When my GI doctor told me there was no way they could test me since I was off gluten, I just sucked it up. I knew I would never put myself through it again regardless.
At some point I realized that a gluten free lifestyle was becoming a trend. On balance this was good, because I had more options for food. However, it did create the situation where restaurants jumping on the bandwagon didn’t really know what they were doing. And in those cases, I would get sick.
But now I see articles and posts with things like “why does gluten free have to be in our face?” “Why should restaurants have to cater to these people? ” (umm they don’t have to). And of course the ever popular study that says it’s all in our heads. (http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085%2813%2900702-6/abstract) and that it is really FODMAPS. That study was conducted by the same researcher who proved gluten intolerance a year prior. And there is a definite, in your face attitude towards proving it all wrong and unnecessary on the internet. Which is, of course, to someone like me, incredibly annoying.
Then there are the internet commenters, who don’t hold back on their scientific assertions and arguing in nasty, nasty ways. I even read an article by a Chef tearing up his own customers for being ignorant. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-vetri/im-gluten-intolerantintol_b_5614463.html) That came off as really intolerant! Excuse me, what I have done to you besides maybe be a potential customer that you don’t want? (and now I never want to be a customer). Just tell people you can’t handle gluten free requests and let us all move on, separately.
Sure, maybe you are saying, in my case, I have good reason to not eat gluten. But those trendy people, they don’t. WHAT? Honestly, Paleo and Atkins are trendy as well, and don’t take half the heat that gluten free people do! And Paleo people can’t eat wheat, or any grain whatsoever. So what is it about people trying, for WHATEVER reason, to improve their health by eliminating gluten that annoys people so much??
Well I don’t know. But I came up with two potential reasons. One is clear, I notice the gluten free haters more, because I take it personally. Two, is maybe because people are defensive when maybe, just maybe they don’t want to hear about what else they should be doing about their health. I can sympathize with this. The internet is often a TMI place and it can be confusing, conflicting and irritating how much has to be said on all facets of nutrition, which is one of the most misunderstood sciences there is, even for the experts. I get wanting to shut it out.
But honestly those who choose gluten free, for whatever reason, tend to stick with it. Which hasn’t been my observation with other diet trends. If I had a dime for all the people that swear by atkins, but fall off the wagon after the first week every time . . . So maybe that irritates people, our resolution.
My observation is that people will rationalize eating what they want to eat. Especially foods like pretzels and pizza and cookies. Anyone who insists gluten free people are being fussy or making it up should reflect on human nature. If something, in form of feeling better in some way, were not driving us to stay gluten free, we wouldn’t.
Lastly, many articles and negative opinions of gluten intolerance, tend to leave this new development out (http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/gluten-intolerance-from-roundup-herbicide-zw0z1402zkin.aspx). The use of round up on wheat is the most plausible explanation for the change in reactions I have heard. To me it explains a lot. And why, before I even knew there was such a trend, I jumped on the bandwagon. It’s not a coincidence. When there is smoke, there is a fire! And it just affected a lot of us at the same time.
I’m sorry for the controversy this creates and the need that is felt to make people question what makes them feel better! And hey, if it affects those in doubt in five years, I’ll be here to help them out!