Seven months ago I wrote a post called “How The Media Is Making Things Worse For People With Celiac Disease“, and nothing has changed. Nothing. I know that really seven months is not a long time in the grand scheme of life and certainly don’t expect one of my posts to out-do the incredible damage that the majority of the media has been spewing but it’s time to write about it again.
There is no doubt that gluten free industry has boomed over the past few years. Every company is starting to develop their own ‘gluten free’ lines & it is becoming more popular in the restaurants. I have mixed feelings this development. I am thrilled that there are more options available for faster prepared foods & treats for myself and my kids (donuts, cookies & food similar to what their friends are eating at school) but i am weary on what this is doing for those of us who have to eat gluten free & even more so for those individuals & families new to the gluten free diet for medical reasons.
1. There is a learning curve to changing your diet to be 100% gluten free. It can be overwhelming and challenging because of the importance of sticking to the diet. Many who are first diagnosed freak out over the food they will miss. Information in the media about what it is like to eat gluten free and what celiac disease is – disturbs me with the inaccuracies about what is gluten free (this video from ABC News shows Elizabeth Hasselbeck telling the viewers that this ”where she hangs out” while standing in front of 3 freezer doors saying that she feels like her “name should be on here” ).
What that does is leads people to believe that ‘gluten free’ is hard to find & that it can only be found in small sections of some grocery stores. Totally leaving off the HUGE naturally gluten free foods (you know like fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy etc). THAT leads into point #2:
2. With the huge increase of the gluten free diet being considered a ‘diet fad’ & every seeming company jumping on the bandwagon we get products in our stores that are trying to capitalize on this. Gluten free is traditionally more expensive because it costs more to produce. Companies are ‘smart’ & that is when you find products like this brown sugar (photo to the left) marked GLUTEN-FREE on the label and selling for a higher price. What’s the issue? Brown sugar is naturally gluten free. Yet the company stamps the label on their package and then increases the price.
There is another danger that is perpetuated with the media and people calling the gluten free diet a fad. One that has the very real potential for serious health issues for those that are affected. ”Fad” is defined as an “interest followed with exaggerated zeal” and giving the gluten free diet a title like that gives off a very wrong perception. Often times a ‘fad’ just ‘fluffed’ off as something that is only ever done for ‘unimportant reasons’ and although media will briefly mention the medical needs for being on a gluten free diet – most of the coverage right now has a negative connotation on why the gluten free diet is a fad and not important and in some cases it’s even said to be unhealthy.
This people leads to disastrous issues…
1. You get chefs who are working in a restaurant that offer some gluten free options who think it is FUNNY to give those who request a gluten free dinner full on gluten … on purpose (click the photo to read the comment). Complete disregard for peoples health because he thinks that the issues with gluten is all in the persons head. Sure celiac disease is not immediate like certain other food safety concerns (anaphylaxis peanut allergy) but it is SERIOUS & any contamination will have very serious consequences. This is not the only time this has happened either – just caught on Facebook.
2. Another incident in recent news is leading me to wonder if the ‘fad’ label is what is causing this. Paul Seelig, owner of Great Specialty Products decided it would be just fine to label GLUTEN bread as GLUTEN-FREE at a North Carolina State Fair. More than 2 dozen people got sick from this. Could you imagine that? The complete disregard for peoples health? It is so much more then just a fad diet that you can cheat on once in a while. He not only labeled it incorrectly but assured those who purchased the bread that it was made in a dedicated gluten free facility & tested the product weekly to ensure the had no trace of gluten. This goes much further then someone who ‘just didn’t know’.
I have mentioned this so many times that i am big into the language that we use. Celiac disease is not an ‘allergy‘ or ‘like an intolerance‘. This is my life; my daughters life and an estimated 1 in 133 other people (for celiac disease; much more if you include gluten allergy, gluten intolerance, autism, mental health illnesses, PSOS & much more).
Gluten free is NOT a diet fad – it is a medical treatment.
If you are in charge of preparing food for people who request a gluten free diet — prepare it as if they had celiac disease NOT as if they are inconveniencing you for a ‘healthier lifestyle diet choice‘. & stop taking advantage of those who need to eat gluten free by selling your naturally gluten free products at an increased price! & learn the correct medical terminology & stop perpetuating the dangerous myths.Share This Post: Tweet