Friday, January 22, 2010

Throwing Out the Wheat

I found this article "Throwing out the Wheat" today via another discussion board on eating gluten-free. It was posted almost six months ago, though a lot of the discussion is still relevant today.

The article starts out engaging and I'm nodding my head "yes, yes, yes" at many of the author's points. However, as I continue on reading I become more and more annoyed, then completely angry at his nonchalance and downright digs towards people living a gluten-free lifestyle. Engber suggests that going gluten-free is a choice, like the Atkins diet. I hate that "The View" co-host Elizabeth Hasslebeck's book gets cited as a cause for turning a gluten-free diet into a 'fad.' AND that this 'fad" borders on an eating disorder.

"When a restrictive diet becomes an end in itself, we call it an eating disorder; when it's motivated by health concerns, we call it a lifestyle. That's why Hasselbeck says going G-free will make you slim (a sign of wellness) rather than skinny (a symptom of anorexia). It might also explain the relationship between food sensitivities and fad diets: People who are intolerant of gluten or lactose get a free pass for self-denial." says Engber. Who does Hasselbeck think she is?

The comment from "synthdementhe" on the article describes perfectly what I was thinking: "Elisabeth Hasselbeck's book has done more to damage public awareness about celiac disease than help it. Listening to her is like listening to Oprah--misguided and misinformed. Instead of unaffected people asking questions about the condition, they are starting to roll their eyes at it, as if it's some new form of political correctness."

This article is a small minded view of why people need to eat gluten-free. Trust me, if I could eat gluten products, I totally would. I miss doughnuts, bagels, pizza, and gnocchi especially. Just ask my boyfriend about my 'All I want is pizza' episode. I stood in not one, but TWO long lines at TWO separate pizza-by-the-slice joints, only to reach the second counter and cry out "I can't eat anything!" Then, I ran all the way home in a fit of depression. The anticipation of chewing on a warm, crusty slice of pizza was heightened by the sweet smells of it baking in the wood-fired oven... I was so depressed by the realization that I no longer fit into the 'mainstream'.

For the rest of my life, I will have to ask for exceptions. It still makes me choked up to think about making special food requests which often require more work for someone else to accommodate my needs. I do my best to not draw any attention to my dietary-restrictions and to prepare for situations where I can avoid asking for special treatment.

It's not as if I eat a bite of gluten and I automatically rush to the toilet with runs. I have so many other long-term issues that I want to avoid - like compartment syndrome, alarmingly high Heart Rates, joint pain, etc. (read my previous post "The Diagnosis".)

The author goes on to say that a gluten-free diet is "unnecessary" and "deprives you or your children of certain culinary pleasures" and "very annoying - to friends, lovers, work-buddies..." Well I'm sorry if I inconvenience you with my dietary restrictions. Should I say to all of my vegetarian Indian friends that they are annoying? Or to my kosher Jewish friends that they are annoying? Or to alcohol-avoiding Middle Eastern friends that they are annoying? Or to my cousin who is allergic to shellfish and peanuts that he is annoying? I think not.

If I annoy you because of my gluten-free lifestyle, then we probably shouldn't be friends anyway. Thankfully, I'm quite certain that I don't have any friends that view my gluten-allergy as a deal-breaker for our friendship. I actually think some pity the fact that I can't have all the tasty warm chocolate chip cookies I want.

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