Where is this “anti-gluten-free” attitude even coming from? Some people are hipsters, and want to follow a certain type of diet, sure, but why risk stepping on the toes of someone who might have a serious medical condition? This isn’t a diet for most of us.
If you’re an intolerant or Celiac and you’ve had just about enough of the hate, then listen up, because I’m going to tell you what you can say to someone the next time they try and make you feel bad for your dietary (non-)choices. I’m going to break this all down systemically.
It’s a Three-tiered System. Three.
A recap: there are three categories of people involved in the gluten-free game:
- People on a diet
#1. Celiac cannot eat gluten. Full stop. If they do, they are going to cripple over in pain, and be devastated for days. #2. Intolerants suffer any number of health issues when they consume gluten. These can vary dramatically from individual to individual, and include things like depression, fatigue, memory loss, and even more subtle psychological conditions like addiction. #3. People who heard about the benefits to eating gluten-free, and they decided they would try it out.
So Why the Anti-gluten Hate?
I’m not totally sure. People want to be heroes on Reddit, and lunchtime eat-out compromises can introduce added stress at work, but in terms of a high-level overview, this is what seems to have happened:
The gluten-free craze hit, and now we are feeling the inevitable blow back from the servers, friends, and family that have to deal with this new social phenomenon. People are beginning to say, “Alright, alright. Enough with that shit already.” That is, people are mistaking #3 for #2. They are implying that your dietary choices follow some sort of timeline, and that eventually this ‘trend’ will die off and you’ll return to normal.
At the height of my gluten saturation, I used to fall asleep while walking. Everything gave me heartburn. I had psoriasis around my neck. I would rather get punched in the face each and every morning, then go back to the days of feeling that biologically defeated all of the time. I know, because I used to punch myself in the face just to stay awake.
It’s an absolutist attitude on the part of servers, family, and friends, where if you are not a documented Celiac, somehow you are some kind of an asshole for trying to avoid gluten because of the host of problems that it give you. For all intents and purposes, we should just roll #2 into #1, but that would perhaps belittle the seriousness of the Celiac plight.
Blame Big Food Business and Not Us
The whole gluten intolerance/celiac thing has exploded in the past couple of years. The only single variable than can account for such a dramatic socio-biological change is the switch to using hybridized wheat that is blended with grass.
I’m not asserting the above as fact, but it sure makes sense to me. It does to William Davis as well, the author of Wheat Belly. He states the following:
”Small changes in wheat protein structure can spell the difference between a devastating immune response to wheat protein versus no immune response at all.” (source)
Now here is the thing: many very intelligent people argue the merits of hybridization/GMO. Cara Santa Maria sums up several points regarding this discussion on the Joe Rogan Experience, but it basically boils down to one thing: there isn’t really enough food to go around, so we need to use the aforementioned techniques. I don’t necessarily agree with that, because there is no evidence that GMOs really yield any more than simply using natural seeds. But let’s just assume that assertion is correct for a second and entertain a thought experiment:
- The world needs food
- GMOs cause adverse reactions in some
- Those reactions are preferable to not eating at all for some
So, I don’t really mind that we’re choosing these hybrid or GMO options in an effort to ultimately put more food on the global table (theoretically). Just keep in mind that one day that may be you who is affected by an intolerance to some other food as we begin down this road where we continue to blend plant and/or animal genetics into our very sustenance. Do you see where this is going? In order for there to be more food, there may need to be more sacrifices.
It may be the case that menus become a lot more diverse, and likely even dynamic to a certain extent. Assuming more and more people continue to develop different allergies, I actually envision a world not too far from now where a restaurant will be more about the ingredients themselves. The dish preparation will be much more of an engaged experience, with dish being customized for allergic considerations; on the flipside, there would simply be niche fast food alternatives for gluten-free, and whatever the next big GMO-born mass allergen turns out to be.
The Big Takeaway: Get used to It
We don’t want to have to avoid some of our favorite places to eat, and generally be a hassle for the people around us. It’s not fun, and if I could just eat wheat without falling asleep while walking, I probably would. This is not some diet I am on; this is how I will be eating for the rest of my life.
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