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Is gluten-free a fad?
Posted By Alison On May 11, 2007 @ In Celiac Disease,Gluten Intolerance,News & Research | 11 Comments
A couple of days ago, I criticized the New York Times for its story on gluten. Yesterday (May 10, 2007), National Public Radio aired a very similar story called For Most People, Gluten Isn’t a Diet Enemy. In this piece, as in the NYT article, there is speculation that there is a “celiac fad diet” and that people are jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon. So I am pondering the question: is gluten-free a fad diet?
If so, then it should be compared to other fad diets, such as The Zone, the Atkins diet and the South Beach Diet. I see 2 main differences between these low-carb diets and the gluten-free diet:
“Gluten-free” is not some crazy American diet named after a doctor or a beach. The reason the media thinks it is a fad is because we Americans are just catching up with understanding what other parts of the world (Australia, for example) already know – that gluten-free is a way of life for certain people.
Both news articles imply that the growth of gluten-free products on the shelves is evidence that the gluten-free diet is a fad. I think it means that awareness is increasing, more people are getting diagnosed and that food manufacturers are recognizing that there is a true market of people who cannot eat gluten.
Are people jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon? I don’t think so. I have found that the general perception about the gluten-free diet is that is a curse and a sentence. Almost everyone says to me something like “Oh, that must be so hard. I could never give up bread.” I believe that people go gluten-free only when they are at the end of their ropes – they can’t get a diagnosis, they feel awful, they have tried medications and other diets with no alleviation of their suffering. Most people don’t do it on a whim, and because there is no cheating allowed, it is a commitment that people are unwilling to make.
Not only is the diet difficult at first, but there is a perception that “gluten-free” means “tastes yucky.” Most people’s attitudes about regular old gluten-containing food is like Joe Hotchkiss’s from the NPR story — “he loves the taste, and he can’t imagine why anyone would choose to eliminate wheat, and therefore gluten, from their diet.”
Fortunately for us with a gluten-free life sentence, food manufacturers are realizing we exist and are here to stay.
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