Gluten Free Diet Confusion

Ok, people.  What’s the deal?  While I’ve been researching and designing new recipes to make our gluten free lives a little easier, apparently others are perpetuating bad information on gluten free diets.

So, here we go, a response to the biggest bits of bad info I’ve seen so far.

1)  Gluten is found in all sorts of foods, including rice.  WRONG!!!!  Gluten in the sense of the gluten-free diet is found in wheat, rye and barley (and their hybrid relatives) and sometimes oats, believed to be due to cross-contamination.

2)  Gluten-free diet is so much healthier than eating gluten because it’s evil.  NO!  Gluten isn’t evil unless you can’t eat it for medical reasons.  In America, wheat is a fortified grain… our food producers add extra vitamins, minerals and trace elements.  It’s good for you.  It really is.  I know few better grains than whole wheat.

3)  There’s hidden gluten everywhere, even in rice!  NO!  Plain rice made of rice has no gluten in the sense that we’re talking about.  Fruits, veggies, greens, etc., are naturally gluten free.  Other products frequently disclose gluten sources on their products, through their 1-800 numbers and/or on their websites.  If you bother to look, you can find lots and lots of great products that are gluten free (even Wal-Mart’s store brand has tons of gluten free options).

4)  I can detox my body by eliminating gluten for a short time period.  WRONG!!!  Tell Oprah to stick it.  Gluten-free is a LIFELONG MEDICAL DIET.  Unless you’re undiagnosed and gluten intolerant, eliminating gluten is not going to fix whatever eating habits got you to the place where you thought you’d need to detox.

5)  I should go gluten-free without being tested first.  !! Please don’t!!!  There are lots of good reasons to be tested, including keeping you on the straight and narrow and being able to demonstrate to family members why they should also be tested (you might save your mother’s life).  Also, your doctor should be able to help diagnose other problems that are likely to come hand in hand with the gluten intolerance; it rarely travels alone.

6)  A little gluten won’t hurt me… YES IT WILL!!  Even a little bit of gluten can cause intestinal damage in people with Celiac disease.  Don’t eat it, gluten kills us.

7)  I have to stop eating pizzas, pies, pastries, cookies, etc…. No, never!!  There are many of us out there who are interested in baking (and probably had lots of wheat baking miles under our belts) who are developing and refining recipes to fit our ideas of what real food should taste like, gluten free or not.  My friends and family (and new friends who once were strangers) frequently are unable to tell the difference in my homemade baked goods (and sometimes even prefer the gf versions to the wheat originals).  The only thing I have yet to be able to replicate (or know others who have) is phyllo dough… and I’m sure someone will figure that one out in the next few years. 🙂

So, I hope that clears up some of the confusion.  Gluten-free is not a fad diet, it’s not a New Year’s Resolution, it’s not a game.  People who are on Gluten-free diets are on them for strict medical reasons… primarily Celiac Disease.  Celiacs cannot stray and must ALWAYS be careful about ingesting gluten because it sets off an autoimmune chain reaction that always ends in a sad and dangerous way.

Oh yeah, and just because you have a blog doesn’t give you permission to perpetuate bad information.  If you are irresponsible enough to carry bad information that’s neither properly researched nor entirely true, you could literally be hurting people when it comes to the whole gluten free bit.  Don’t be irresponsible… if you have some sort of know-it-all complex, then you can stick it, too.  People need good information, this isn’t an easy diet in the beginning (it does get easier, I promise).

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