Posted on | June 29, 2011 | 3 Comments
Last night, I was sent a tweet that contained a link that apparently had “gluten free secrets.” The nosy person that I am had to open the link immediately to see what these secrets were. Maybe I was missing out on some huge gluten-free secret that would change my life forever. But the second I took my first glimpse, I knew I wasn’t missing out on anything. It was an advertisement for a book called Gluten Free Living Secrets. The header of the page said, “Who else wants to lose weight, enjoy perfect skin and experience limitless energy? All by eliminating just one basic ingredient from your diet…”
Okay, I was alarmed when celebrities started going on the gluten-free diet to lose weight. I feared that the gluten-free market would transform into a bunch of money-hungry manufacturers looking to slap a gluten-free label on their products to make a pretty penny—not to assure the health of its customers. Let me just say this. There is no research that lends itself to the hypothesis that eliminating gluten from one’s diet will help you lose weight. People without any kind of intolerance to gluten are probably seeing results because they are cutting out calories and some carbohydrates from their diets. We also have to consider the fact that many gluten-free products are also organic and, therefore, healthier.
Each individual with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance reacts to gluten differently. Some of us have trouble losing weight until we start the gluten-free diet. Others actually have trouble gaining weight until they have been gluten-free for some time. I am of the latter sort. At my current weight of 104 pounds, if the gluten-free diet caused me to lose any weight, I would eventually shrivel up and die. I was even thinner before I started the diet, a very sickly double-digit number. The gluten-free diet has allowed the villi in my small intestine to become healthy and functional again, thus allowing me to absorb the nutrients that I need and gain weight, slowly but surely. Interestingly, when some us of go on the gluten-free diet, we gain because we finally feel well enough to eat in larger portions.
The advertisement goes on to say:
“Are you sick and tired of trying every weight loss program out there and failing to see results? Or are you frustrated with not feeling as energetic as you used to despite what you eat? Perhaps you always seem to have a bit of a ‘dodgy stomach’ and indigestion seems to be a regular part of your life?
There’s nothing worse than sitting down to a nice big plate of pasta and enjoying your meal only to be met with a growling stomach and the inevitable rush to the toilet.
It’s that bloated feeling you get after eating a piece of bread that just ‘doesn’t seem right’. Almost as if you’ve eaten something poisonous.
For years I thought I just had a weak stomach and was resigned to a life of low energy and a feeling of just being sick all the time.”
Not once has the writer, Katy Miller, mentioned any kind of Celiac Disease diagnosis or gluten intolerance. She seems to suggest that gluten is “poisonous” to everyone, or that everyone experiences these adverse effects when they ingest gluten, even though the symptoms she mentions are the exact symptoms I experienced before my own Celiac diagnosis. She makes this explicit later when she says, “Here’s the thing… we are not supposed to eat gluten. Our bodies can’t process it properly and it is quite literally treated as a poison when it enters our system. The reality is that the human body can habituate to anything and we become ‘used to the feeling’ and eventually not even aware of the harm it’s doing us.” However, I know plenty of people who consume gluten on a normal basis and feel completely fine. They don’t experience the bloating or stomach pains that Miller is describing. The countless food blogs I follow that are not gluten-free show healthy, fit individuals, who don’t fall into the hype or promises of the magic gluten-free diet.
Miller also claims to have done two years worth of research on this subject. I would love to see this research. What has her research shown her? She just casually mentions that she’s done the research, so you should believe what she’s telling you. Yes, I’ve done two years of research so you should believe me when I say that gluten is poison for everyone. Honestly, I’m extremely offended by this. I feel like she’s telling me that Celiac Disease doesn’t exist. Gluten is just bad for everyone. Oh, I’ve been just so stupid for the past four years, thinking I had this disease that the doctor told me I had when really I’m just like everyone else. The only difference is that they don’t have any symptoms.
What frighten me are the other two claims in the headline. Perfect skin? I’ve been gluten-free for nearly four years and my skin definitely isn’t perfect. I haven’t noticed any change in it since I’ve started my diet either. I definitely don’t want people thinking that this is some cosmetic decision. I’m not gluten-free because I want a clear complexion or a tiny waist. I’m gluten-free to be healthy. I’m gluten-free so I can someday have children, so I won’t have early-onset osteoporosis or cancer, so I can spend as much time being with my loved ones and feeling good.
The other assertion is that you will have more energy once you’ve gone gluten-free. This might be true, but chances are it’s because you have Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. So please, I’m begging anyone who will ever see this post or this blog; please, don’t fall for all of the hype. I urge anyone suffering the symptoms Katy Miller has described to be tested for Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance and to find the real causes of these symptoms.
Stay healthy and stay informed.