This weekend I went to New York Citywith my niece. It was her Christmas/Birthday present. We had a wonderful day wandering around and I learned that my nearly 15 year old niece is as much of a clothes fiend as I am. We both restrained in our purchases but spent a lot of time ogling in Saks and Bloomingdales. Actually, more telling of our personalities is that we spent more time seated on the floor in The Strand and she bought a bag full of books as her day’s souvenirs. Well, books and candy. (thanks Dylan’s)
My souvenir for the day was a pit stop to Babycakes NYC. This place is glorious. For me at least. I first stepped foot in this bakery with Jess about less than a month after being diagnosed with celiac disease. Jess and I were in the city to see Rent before it ended it’s run at the Nederlander. And, my blueberry muffin that morning was wonderful. It was tasty. It was perfect. And it was gluten free. I could eat it. To find myself in a place where I could eat the baked goods and not stare at them longingly was magical.
Nowadays, no trip to New York is complete without a stop. It’s a cute shop. And so awesomely fun to just sit on a step out front or on one of the bar stools and stare at the crowded wall of fun. Even as my own baking becomes more and more awesome and I become more and more interested in making my own recipes, it’s still nice to go somewhere I know I can eat and feel safe. That has character and sells coffee. (this coffee thing has a point and I will probably get back to it one day).
So, on Sunday, Bella and I took a break and sat on the bar stool, resting and snacking. I overheard a conversation. Two women were talking about gluten free. And what it was. And their personal experiences trying it out.
And the conversation then went somewhere that made me want to scream. “Oh my god, I stopped eating gluten a little while ago just to give it a try and I just lost so much weight.” Something along the lines of “it was like the easiest diet ever” then followed.
First, congratulations if it does help you lose weight. That is so great. I know when I went off gluten I was substantially less bloated. I no longer lived with a bloated feeling. But also, a lot of people who quit gluten find themselves eating a lot less carbs. And this is often tied to weight loss. But, it is still great. I am not against you losing weight. I am all for it if it is something you are hoping to do. I will even cheer you on.
BUT … gluten free is not a weight loss diet. Celiac disease is not some sort of lifestyle decision I made while I was reading Shape magazine one day. Gluten intolerance isn’t something people try out for fun. It can cause some awful gastrointestinal anxieties and people have major life long repercussions from it.
Gluten free as a fad diet is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it leads to a lot of items being available for me. In three years, the grocery store sections have greatly expanded. I can get gluten free soy sauce at most sushi restaurants! People don’t look at my funny when I ask how the chips are handled. But, there is still so much misinformation. Not everything needs to be labeled gluten free. The grapes I bought the other day had a sign in the grocery store indicating they are “naturally gluten free.” Well, I’d hope so! They’re damn grapes.
And I get annoyed (and maybe it’s an irrational annoyance) when people indicate that this was the best diet ever. It feels belittling. It seems to ignore what my body was doing to itself for the 30 years of gluten consumption. As the Mayo Clinic puts it: “People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.”
The potential health ramifications for me are huge. The connection between celiac and diabetes is pretty damn strong (my mom had a long struggle with diabetes.) There’s an increased incidence of stomach disorders and diseases (my grandmother died from stomach cancer.)
I started this gluten free life because I thought it’d be nice for my body to work normally again. And stop attacking itself. And to stop feeling gross every day.
I realize this is all probably irrational and I’m being silly and everyone’s experience is different. But, I feel like promoting this as a new fad diet are what leads to more stories such as this one.
or this one.
Sooooo, excuse my rant. I’m going to go off and eat my “naturally gluten free” plum for a snack.