In Defense of Gluten Free
I can’t believe I’m about to say this but here it is — I think it’s time to lay off the gluten free folks.
Listen, I love a good science-based smackdown as much as the next gal, and I get that there’s SO MUCH to smack down here. Yes, the gluten free diet is trendy right now. Yes, there is no scientific support for non-celiac gluten sensitivity. And yes, packaged gluten free foods are often incredibly unhealthy.
Still, the latest crop of articles timed to coincide with healthy eating resolutions seem to rely heavily on a GLUTEN FREE MEANS INTELLIGENCE FREE! sort of mantra. And, sure, some people eating gluten free are idiots but that doesn’t mean they all are.
If you stop eating gluten, and physical symptoms improve, have you proven some significant scientific correlation? Of course not. But let’s be realistic. If you’re suffering from something for which doctors have given you no cure, and you find something that seems to work, why wouldn’t you just stick with it? At some point it becomes obnoxious to demand to see the scientific evidence behind every lifestyle choice an individual makes. None of us live in some sort of perfect evidence-based world. Sometimes we all wing it.
Plus, let’s remember what the gluten sensitivity study actually showed. While it looks like there’s no support for most claims of gluten sensitivity, that doesn’t mean that the symptoms weren’t real in many cases or that gluten was found to be harmless for every condition other than celiac disease. In other words, as always, more research is needed.
Here’s another consideration — the test for celiac disease isn’t easy. You’ll need to eat gluten for a period of time and then remove it from your diet and compare your bloodwork under both conditions. If you made changes in your diet and felt better after making those changes, wouldn’t it be reasonable to stay that course?
So I have a new healthy eating resolution for 2015: Let’s stop insinuating that every person on a gluten free diet is a complete idiot. It’s probably just every third person.