As news of another gluten free celebrity breaks, the buzz is all about what it really means to be gluten intolerant. You often hear references to it being a “trend” or an option, but that isn’t always the case. In fact, it usually isn’t a choice.
With instances of celiac increasing substantially over the past few decades, you have to wonder what it is that is causing the spread. But that might be a topic for a different article entirely.
For now, though, if you are going to support a friend or family member, it is important that you understand where they are coming from. You might be considering cutting out gluten yourself, as well. Where do you fall in this?
Gluten Free as a Diet Choice
There are times when a person might cut out gluten (and sugars, starches, processed foods, etc) as an attempt to lose weight or reach some health goal. You won’t often find a cleanse or diet that encourages you to eat gluten-filled foods like breads or pastries. However, a decision like this should be made carefully and with the guidance of a health care professional.
It might be a good thing to cut back on starches and gluten for a time to give your body a break, but you should also take into consideration the nutrients that you were getting from those foods and replace them in some way. For example, fiber is commonly acquired via whole grain breads, and you will need to increase intake from other sources if you are not getting it from breads.
In other words – although Miley Cyrus alluded to her thin frame being a result of her gluten-free diet, you should not expect to just stop eating gluten and suddenly lose weight. It is much more involved than that.
Gluten Free as a Lifestyle
Some people, for one reason or another, have weighed the decision to be gluten free and have chosen it as a lifestyle. They might not react explicitly to gluten like a person with celiac disease, but maybethey have chosen not to eat gluten or bring it in their home as a way of supporting a gluten free loved one. Or perhaps they find that gluten has a cumulatively negative affect on their body and they choose not to eat it for that reason. Maybe they follow the Paleo diet protocol.
Whatever the reason, someone who has chosen to be gluten-free as a lifestyle decision has likely put a great deal of thought and consideration into it and will be committed to it. While they could likely “cheat” and not suffer any immediate ill effects, it is always wise to respect their stance and not try to cajole them into slipping. Habits are hard to make but easily broken, and you could be setting them back in a hard fought battle to kick their cravings.
Gluten Free as a Health Requirement
Finally- and this is probably the most common reason people give up gluten- we have people with Celiac Disease or another form of gluten intolerance. This is a very serious health situation and should not be taken lightly. While many jump to the conclusion that someone is gluten free simply because of a choice, more often than not, gluten causes intense intestinal reactions in these folks. For them, being gluten free is not a choice but a necessity. Cross contamination or even the smallest trace of gluten can trigger these reactions.
Of course, there are many reasons people do things, and this is no exception. Stop by the Udi’s gluten free community and you’ll see that everyone is coming from a different place. Where do you fall on the spectrum, and do you think announcements like Miley’s help or hurt the perception of gluten-free eating?