Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
4 Sep

This Gluten-Free Thing Is a Really Overblown Fad!

glutenfreeThis is a comment I’m starting to see more and more often. Go to any news article about gluten and the comment section will be littered with angry outbursts and outright vitriol for people who go gluten-free. Skeptical blogs love to trot out posts lambasting and ridiculing the “gluten-free fad.” And from what I can tell, nothing inspires a contemptible eye-roll like a person asking a waiter in a restaurant if they have gluten-free options. By some stretch of the known laws of cause-and-effect, the removal of gluten from someone’s diet apparently causes irreparable harm to people with knowledge of the decision and deserves unequivocal reprobation. Otherwise, why else would they care so much?

Well, gluten-free is clearly more popular than ever. More and more people are becoming aware of it. Google searches for “gluten” have been trending higher month over month for years, while the number of searches for “celiac” has plateaued. 30% of American adults are actively trying to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diets, according to a recent pollGluten-free dating sites are popping up to help gluten-free dieters match up with people who share their situation. The FDA’s just weighed in with some official standards for gluten-labeling. It’s everywhere, in other words. It’s arrived. It’s popular. And whenever anything gets popular, people immediately begin hating it. I’m not sure why that is, really, but it’s a known human phenomenon. Couple that with your already annoying co-worker droning endlessly on about this new diet she’s on, and I can see how someone might get a bit annoyed at all the gluten-free talk.

But is the vitriol really necessary? Does its popularity invalidate it as a legitimate therapeutic option for people with a sensitivity or downright intolerance to gluten? Should incurious cynics masquerading as skeptics be so quick to dismiss it?

Okay, maybe sometimes people can be a bit evangelical about avoiding gluten, and that’s unpleasant. And sometimes, people can’t give you a straight answer when you grill them on exactly why they’re avoiding gluten. I’d wonder why you felt it was your place to “grill them” in the first place, of course, but there is that subset of the population who takes umbrage at people making health decisions without conducting randomized controlled trials, being able to cite research by memory, and consulting the authorities.

I’ll also admit that the prospect of marketers taking over and appropriating the movement for their own benefit concerns me. For many people, a “gluten-free” label unfortunately bestows a cachet of health onto whatever processed food it graces. Potato chips? They’re gluten-free! Triple-chocolate brownie mud slide fudge-topped soy flour locust bean gum explosion? Gluten-free! Eat without guilt! Gluten-free bread that makes up for the lack of gluten’s texturizing power with a half cup of soybean oil? Go for it! Even foods that never contained gluten in the first place, like Cheetos, and hummus, are getting the gluten-free label to capitalize on the trend.

On one hand, it’s like the fat-free labeling craze, where you had fat-free cookies with twice the sugar, fat-free yogurt with thrice the sugar, fat-free salad dressing with whatever sorcery they incorporated to make that possible. And people ate those things with willful abandon, confident that “fat-free” was a synonym for “healthy” – and obesity rates continued to rise. Heck, the fat-free movement most likely exacerbated America’s obesity problem. I can understand why people who mistrust food marketing would be skeptical of gluten-free in general.

Of course, there is an important difference that distinguishes gluten-free from other faddish, market-driven diets: you don’t actually need gluten-free products to go gluten-free. The fat-free movement turned people off of legitimately healthy nutrient-dense foods like beef, eggs, butter, nuts, avocados, and olive oil just because they contained fat, whereas going gluten-free doesn’t remove a vital, essential nutrient or food. In fact, it can even increase your intake of nutrients, assuming you replace the gluten-containing foods with naturally gluten-free meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts rather than gluten-free junk food. In my experience, gluten-free consumers are more informed about health in general and do the former.

Amidst all the marketing speak, the gluten-free water, the gnashing of teeth upon discovering that the person you’re talking to avoids gluten, real science is being done, and any honest, literate person who looks at the available evidence on the health effects of gluten will admit that there’s something to this “fad.” And yet, I’m increasingly struck by the unwillingness of intelligent people to acknowledge the reams of research coming out every week exploring the effects of gluten on non-celiacs.

It couldn’t be that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is real and we don’t know how many people actually have it as the epidemiology is too new and underdeveloped. It can’t possibly be that gluten-free diets might reduce adiposity/inflammation via epigenetic effects (potentially reaching across generational lines). There’s no way that gluten free diets help non-celiac IBS patients who had no preconceived notions of gluten-free dieting (and thus no risk of being influence by the hype). And that case study of the child with type 1 diabetes going into remission with a gluten free diet? Let’s just sweep that under the rug and completely forget about it. Oh, what about the link between autism and non-celiac gluten sensitivity? Doesn’t exist. PubMed is a liar. Those autistic kids with GI symptoms who do respond positively to a gluten-free diet? They don’t, and the study you just thought you read is a figment of your imagination. All that hubbub about modern dwarf wheat being more allergenic than ever is also nonsense. Besides needing a stool to reach the top shelf, modern wheat is totally identical to older wheat and is no more allergenic.

Another popular canard is the “celiac is too rare for most people to worry about” one. Well, about that: the latest research out of Australia (a remarkably gluten-conscious country) shows that celiac is far more prevalent than previously thought and about 50 percent of the population carries the genetic markers associated with gluten sensitivity. Scientists used a combination of traditional antibody testing (which measures the immune response to gluten) with analysis of genetic risk factors for celiac to reach their conclusions. Not everyone with risk factors actually displayed gluten intolerance or celiac disease, of course, but the presumption is that some combination of environmental factors – inflammatory diet, damaged gut microbiome, etc. – could trigger its expression. (Epigenetics rears its head yet again.) Most people skeptical of gluten-free diets take an “either you are or you aren’t” stance on gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, while the results of the Australian research would suggest that it’s far more dynamic and that a large portion of the population can develop issues with gluten given the right (or wrong) environmental context.

Nope, forget all that research: it’s just people latching onto a fad. It’s just nearly a third of Americans going gluten-free because Miley Cyrus did it (I eagerly await widespread adoption of twerking by millions of soccer moms). It’s millions of people sticking with a dietary regimen that offers no tangible benefits and actually makes them actively unhealthier. And if there is a benefit, it’s all in their heads.

I guess it’s easier to pick on the easy targets and ignore the people with evidence. It’s easy to dismiss the entire movement because of a few misinformed trend-followers, but it’s dishonest. Look – I’m all for the denunciation of health fads and trends that don’t make sense and are based on spurious claims, but not everything that’s popular is bad.

My favorite thing is when “concerned health experts” caution against starting a gluten-free diet without talking to your doctor, paying for a test to determine a gluten allergy, and consulting with a registered dietitian. As if giving up bread, pasta, and cake for more animals and plants is a dangerous undertaking that requires professional assistance. As if removing gluten and feeling loads better only to feel terrible upon a chance reintroduction is an unreliable way to determine if you should go gluten-free.

Here’s why I welcome the explosion in gluten-free awareness, even if it all amounts to a whole lot of nothing for some people: it leads to an overall more healthy diet. Even if you can eat gluten without incident, even if your gut flora is able to cleave gluten in twain for easy digestion, you will still get more nutrients by replacing your grain products with more meat, seafood, vegetables, roots, and fruit. Sure, you’ve got the folks who go gluten-free by swapping in gluten-free versions of all their favorite foods and end up eating nutrient bereft diets full of refined alternative flours, but I think they’re in the minority for a few reasons.

First, gluten-free junk food tastes worse than the originals, although that’s changing as the market grows and food producers improve their methods.

Second, gluten-free products are generally more expensive than the regular products.

Third, in my experience, people who go gluten-free usually stumble into a Primal way of eating. The way I see it playing out is you have sweet potatoes or rice instead of rolls at dinner. You go with a real corn tortilla or lettuce wrap tacos instead of burritos. Instead of buying all that gluten-free bread that turns into dust at the slightest touch, you spend the money on meat and vegetables. You go out to eat at a burger joint and maybe they don’t have the gluten-free bun that day, so you have the patty on a salad and realize it’s not such a bad way to eat – and you stick with it.

I’ve read the studies. I’ve consulted the experts (who are actually studying this stuff). I’ve witnessed the incredibly positive changes in thousands of readers, friends, family members, and clients who gave up gluten (and most grains for that matter). Heck, I’ve felt it myself. Is there something to this whole gluten-free thing?

I’d say so, yeah.

What about you?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I think you kind of touch on why people get so heated about gluten-free, it creates this wacky health halo. Additionally, I think people say really dumb things like “Oh well I was slightly allergic to gluten” or “I was really addicted to gluten” etc which is just not true in most cases. The big reason a lot of people lose weight and feel better is they stop eating crappy food. Even thought things like Cheetos are gluten free, I feel that when people steer clear of gluten the gravitate towards whole, natural foods and tend to cut out a lot of carbs. Which is a good thing, but their reasoning is just flawed.

    BoboFett3 wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Yes this: “The big reason a lot of people lose weight and feel better is they stop eating crappy food”. You nailed it.

      In all this discussion, I haven’t even realized that my goal isn’t “gluten free”. It just happens to be that way because I go for primal. People assume I’m doing gluten free. They rarely assume I’m trying not to eat crap.

      Julie wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • I have to be gluten free and it saddens me when my parents try to “help” by asking me if I can eat low fat salad dressing, Pam spray, and other processed foods as they’re preparing dinner for the whole family. Sometimes, I ask to look at the ingredients and even though gluten-containing products are not listed, I tell them, no, I can’t.

        My mom is definitely drawn in by the gluten-free label. She knows nothing about cooking in general, and even less about gluten-free cooking, so for her the label is “helpful” for feeding me when I come to visit.

        My sister has recently gone gluten free and is on the gluten-free-packaged-food train. I’m trying not to make a big deal about it right now since I know I had that sort of transition before eating really food…

        I lost weight eating crap. Gluten-filled low-calorie crap. Then I transitioned to a real food diet. Unfortunately I really didn’t feel any different, except less hungry! Going gluten free and emphasizing nutrient-dense traditional foods made the real difference.

        Michelle wrote on September 5th, 2013
  2. Gluten-free is more expensive? It’s funny when people say that. I go, compared to what? Considering, I rarely go to the doctor except for check ups. I rarely get sick. If I had to sit someone down and ask them: okay tell me your grocery list of all the shampoos and conditioners, facial washes, laundry detergent, followed by the money you spend on aspirin, antibiotics, other medications, trips to the doctor, money spent going out to eat and how much time you lose when you get sick (because time is money) over the course of a year?

    I’m pretty sure my simple grocery list of organic and gluten free food and time cooking all this tasty food is probably going to be comparable to all the money they’ve spent. And, I don’t spend much on hair or face products because ACV, coconut oil and filtered water (at the health food store) still beats out a 19.99 special of Proactive (oh wait I don’t get acne because of the primal lifestyle) or having to even cheap 1.99 shampoos/conditioners several times a year. The math will speak for itself.

    Abz wrote on September 4th, 2013
  3. Mark, I felt the bite of a bit of sarcasm, but with my own experiences with gluten, I have some of the same sarcasm as well.

    Well, after having 50 years of day and night crippling abdominal pain and chronic diarrhea and finally giving in and I started wearing a diaper to be able to go somewhere fun with my husband. Then on my MDs advice was to try going gluten free for 6 months, and out of desperation to try anything I did it, and the diarrhea and pain stopped completely after about ten days, and then normal bowel movements became a usual daily, controllable occurrence. The first time I’ve ever been normal!!! Can anyone imagine how I felt, physically and mentally?

    I now have freedom to come and go places and enjoy life, without the fear and embarrassment of having accidents, nor do I have to know ahead of time where every bathroom is. I have even gotten to the point that I go places without even thinking of the possibility that I might have an accident. FREEDOM!! And way less stress now.

    THEN, slipping back to eating the gluten, the pasta’s, the hamburger/buns during a ten day trip to California and back, whaddya know?? Ta Dum….The diarrhea and pain returned with a vengeance!!

    So, those naysayers who tout wheat’s value, and voice their opinion about my gluten free diet, they need to just shut up because they don’t know what other’s have been through while living with the healthy wheat/gluten’s.

    I am now GLUTEN FREE AGAIN!! I will never eat it again!! For SOME people, going gluten free is NO JOKING matter!

    @Jejunum, I will try sour dough!!

    Phyllis Anne wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I wouldn’t suggest sourdough if you truly react that horribly to gluten.

      The souring process does pre-digest some of the gluten and lots of the starch in wheat, but it doesn’t completely eliminate it from the bread (else sourdough bread would not have any holes in it, or a crust, due to lack of gluten to hold its shape as it rises).

      I’m a long time bread baker. I mastered the art of sourdough baking in a quest to find a bread I could eat, that would not give me the bloating and belly ache and the anxiety spikes, and an awful rash, that gluten was giving me. It didn’t work for me.

      If you’re that sensitive to gluten, there is no safe amount to eat, and sourdough wheat bread, spelt bread, emmer bread, and einkorn breads all contain gluten.

      I will grant, though, that spelt, emmer, and einkorn wheats have a different type of gluten or a different composition of it that some non-celiacs seem to tolerate better than modern wheat. I don’t seem to have a reaction to 100% spelt or einkorn bread that I do to free-threshing hard winter wheat (even the organically grown kind).

      I’ve made bread from spelt I soaked, sprouted, dried, and ground and tolerated it well. I’ve also ground fresh spelt and used a spelt desem to make 100% spelt bread and that was tolerable as well, but it is one of those foods I can’t eat too much of too often, else the symptoms return.

      It’s easier to just go primal.

      Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Wow. I’m totally impressed with all that work you did!

        Suzanne wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Phyllis, I would skip the sour dough if I were you. You’re obviously highly gluten-intolerant, and the idea that “acid breaks down the gluten” is more than likely bogus.

      Shary wrote on September 4th, 2013
  4. I have just recently discovered that I am a classic female Aspie (Asperger’s). The interesting thing is that, as I read through the symptoms, I realized I used to have some of those symptoms but no longer do. Why? Because those symptoms were all diet-related. Since I’ve completely cleaned up my diet, many of the characteristics have abated. I hope they keep researching the Autism/non-celiac gluten sensitivity. I think it’s broader than that, but they are certainly on the right track.

    And, yes, people don’t have to inflict their “gluten-free” lifestyle on the world. Stay home and cook. On the rare occasion that you go out to eat, have a steak and a salad. Going to a coffee shop with a friend? Have a nice cup of coffee. Pass on the pastry, and don’t grouse about them not offering gluten-free pastries. Once you stop eating out, you’ll find that eating out becomes something you’re no longer interested in. Plan your celebrations in some other way–like, at home, around the table, or on the back patio.

    Yes, I realize this is a typical Aspie response. :) 60-years of habit die hard, even after cleaning up the diet.

    Julian Greene wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I understand what you’re saying, but isn’t it a good thing that there’s more awareness now that gluten has ill-effects for an awful lot of people, meaning we ALL have more choice?

      Staying home and keeping silent has never helped anyone, especially those with non-obvious health issues – the very reason there’s more awareness about Asperger’s and the massively wide range spanned by ASD is because people didn’t stay silent, and braved the same storms of “Oh, that’s just some fad label, everyone has a ‘syndrome’ nowadays because it’s fashionable” etc. :)

      Also, if you search up the term “gluten + schizophrenia” you’ll come across a very interesting study that showed that as wheat consumption fell during WW2, so did levels of first-admission diagnoses for schizophrenia – which leads me to think that any reduction in the amount of gluten consumed would be a good thing on a mass scale.

      Finally, as I commented above, my lifelong clinical depression had eased considerably since cutting out gluten, something I would never have thought to do without reading so many stories, websites and even the haters, who all brought it to my awareness. :)

      Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
  5. While certain food allergies are real (peanuts can really kill some people, for example), it is also true that the placebo effect of changing ones diet is also real. And so some people attribute feeling better to cuttingout natural, wholesome grains, potatoes, etc. in their diet, because of this well-known effect.

    There is also a genetic disposition that plays a role in all of this. For example, Italians eat lots of pasta and bread and live very long lives. But high-carb diets in some populations (Native Americans, for example) results in the diabetic condition.

    Jejunum wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Do you have any links to prove that placebo applies to dietary changes, especially on an ongoing basis?

      Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • There are many, but I’d rather not ruin a good thing that clearly helps many people.

        Here’s one:

        http://paleohacks.com/questions/36820/how-much-of-paleo-eating-is-a-mental-placebo-effect#axzz2dwaShfYI

        Jejunum wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • and this doesn’t prove anything. I have not looked at PubMed, etc. Placebo is powerful, though, and if dietary changes make us feel better, that is a good thing to an extent (pork chops don’t grow on trees, etc.).

          Regards.

          Jejunum wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • I would think any placebo effect from dietary changes would be countered by the placebo effects in favour of gluten and wheat, especially the CW’s endless claims that it’s “heart-healthy” – which are plastered all over the cereal boxes in supermarkets – and that all cereals should be at the absolute foundation of one’s diet? ;)

          If the majority of dietary voices, from family & friends, medics, the media and everyday food labelling in stores tell you something’s healthy, they are more likely to affect the psyche than the relatively few (still) voices of those who suggest otherwise.

          Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • I suspect you’re young or lucky or both. Dietary changes for us less fortunate are not placebo effects. It’s harder to prove on a population level, but elimination diets in individuals is the scientific method in action.

          At any rate, I’m sure that my parents didn’t imagine my dairy allergy as a (very) sick infant. Even if you don’t buy “gluten free” for the general populous, celiac disease, food allergies, etc are known medical issues that don’t respond to placebos.

          Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • Jejunum – There’s nothing to the link provided. It’s not a study – it’s n=1 (or n=2) experience if you read the comments.

          If you’re used to eating a certain diet, reactions to formerly “okay” foods happen. My husband is more sensitive to carbs now that we’re low carb/Paleo. It doesn’t mean the reaction is in his head – it means that his body has adjusted to the diet and has returned to a healthy reaction to junk food.

          For instance, almost everyone when they start smoking has to overcome a gag/coughing reflex. This is your body’s way of saying “Stop doing that, you maroon.” With enough time, however, that initial reaction goes away as the lungs adjust to inhaling the smoke on a regular basis. When a cigarette smoker stops for a while, the gag/coughing reflex has returned. That’s not a “head” thing – it’s a “my body is no longer adjusted to the crappy things I’m doing to it” thing.

          Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
  6. Awesome article. My new doctor brought up that many people are gluten-sensitive without it showing up on tests and that people are sensitive to GMOs, too. She said it was great that I’m avoiding them. I was pleased to hear that doctors are starting to acknowledge these facts, too. :)

    I have had people roll their eyes at me about avoiding gluten, but I feel so much better avoiding it and other carbs in general (corn and potatoes) . No more bloating or feeling lethargic!

    Charlotte wrote on September 4th, 2013
  7. Time will tell if it’s a ‘fad.’ Low carb was very popular but now not so much. Gone are most of the lowcarb special meals at restaurants. Gluten free could go the same way. Even good things don’t always stick, especially if medical science attacks them. I have always had wonderful digestion so I was not at all a candidate for celiac. I had cut back on wheat due to paleo suggestions but finally I tried a run of no wheat at all and I found that I didn’t have asthma when I didn’t eat any wheat. The response was quick too, most asthma was gone in 24 hours. The last bit of improvement took a few months though. I went from daily medicine to zero medicine for 6 months now. But most people I tell act like I must be delusional because they can’t see any obvious mechanism behind wheat (something they love) and asthma. And they don’t want to hear it either. Plus we are typically told that there is no cure for asthma other than medicine so even I was surprised when it went away. Ironically, I CAN eat wheat once now with no apparent ill effects, I ate some noodles and someone’s house and cake at my birthday. SIngle times well spaced out do not cause apparent problems so there seems to be some kind of cumulative effect at least for me. One reason I really hope gluten free sticks around is because we will be more likely to see more research on it.

    Eva wrote on September 4th, 2013
  8. Are there people loudly advocating low fat eating? Are there people rigidly following (or trying to follow), low fat eating? Of course. I suppose that we can call low fat eating a fad, can’t we? An official fad with lots of official backing.

    My lady friend suffered a lot of GI issues, and initially it was medically considered the excess stress caused because her former husband was in her care for Alzheimer’s. Her life was stressful. But after he passed away, the GI problems continued.

    She may have missed a clue because she went back to her native Vietnam for a month including the New Years period. She ate Vietnamese exclusively and had no GI problems. When she returned home, the GI problems resumed.

    Subsequently, I introduced her to “Wheat Belly” and she recalled that virtually absent from classical Vietnam cooking is wheat. By avoiding wheat, she lost her GI problems, and lives more happily.

    The gluten and/or other proteins in wheat seem to be causing the problem. We haven’t gone the full gluten free route, but she does know that the “Gluten Free” products are “Wheat Free”, and once in a while will buy a tasty snack just because it is Gluten/Wheat free.

    She isn’t celiac. Her doctor took the easy way out and labeled her as “wheat sensitive”.

    Doctor “Wheat Belly” is right in that wheat (and sugar) are in an amazing range of processed food products.

    People are faddish about “low fat”. And in that context, people are faddish about “Gluten Free”.

    BicycleGuy wrote on September 4th, 2013
  9. Is gluten-free a fad? Well, possibly when you see the label on products that SHOULD be gluten free. Is gluten sensitivity real? Absolutely. All I can add is my own experience. Before adopting the Primal Blueprint diet, I had regular IBS-like symptoms where I would be up all night in the bathroom. This was a near weekly occurrence with no explanation of cause. Now, after three years of eating differently I rarely have this problem. In fact, I can almost guarantee that after eating a certain threshold level of wheat products I will spend the next night in the bathroom. So I avoid grains not just “because Mark says so” but because it makes me feel better.

    RBmt wrote on September 4th, 2013
  10. I love this completely fact-based post on what’s fast becoming an emotionally charged topic. Also wanted to point out that New York Mets pitching star Matt Harvey credits a low-carb, gluten-free diet with eliminating his lifelong stomach pains.

    From a recent ESPN article:

    Q: What do you like about your body?
    MH: I take pride in not being injured. I know sometimes you can’t control that, but fortunately I’ve never had issues. Also, I have an athletic build. Looking good with your shirt off doesn’t mean anything in the game of baseball, but it’s something I take pride in. I’ve always been interested in my body and my health. I eat healthy; I don’t eat gluten. Anything I can do performance-wise and healthwise, I’m definitely doing.

    Q: Why no gluten?
    MH: I’m Italian, so I grew up on pasta. But I’ve always had a bad stomach and could never figure out why my stomach was hurting. Maybe two years ago somebody asked, “You ever thought about not eating pasta and staying away from gluten?” Once I did, I stopped having as many problems. I haven’t gotten tested for food allergies yet, but for me, staying away from it has helped.

    Jay Cross wrote on September 4th, 2013
  11. I discovered my gluten sensitivity 12 years ago when I tried the Atkins diet. It changed my life for the better. Transitioning away from bread, pasta, and other gluten products was made easier for me by substituting gluten-free versions, but I no longer use them. They can be a good temporary crutch for some, especially children.
    I am not convinced that all gluten sensitivity is a classic immunologic response. I had comprehensive skin allergy testing that indicated no food sensitivities, although now I know that wheat and dairy both cause problems for me. I believe that the environmental trigger could be a common virus or an effect of viral load in susceptible individuals. That would explain why the problems often show up in adulthood.

    Jenny wrote on September 4th, 2013
  12. For years, I had intolerable, bleeding, cracking eczema, mostly on the backs of my hands, and my legs would often itch incessantly. The doctor could offer only prescription skin cream. After enduring a few years of that, doing my own reading, I learned that wheat can cause eczema. I dropped the bread, and lost the eczema. Wheat is bad stuff, considering too, what I’ve learned after starting Paleo.
    I lost the gut that I had for years despite being very active, and now on the scale I’m at or below my “ideal” weight. 40 pounds down in four years with no extra effort until starting commuting by bicycle just this summer.
    One does not have to, I found, buy gluten-free products which may or may not be GF, but to cook in such a way to avoid it as much as possible. Meat, vegetables, I make my own salsas, and will avoid things like tomato sauces and other store bought, packaged, who-knows-what’s-really-in-it, sauces. Instead, tomato sauce can be made with fresh tomatoes, for example.
    For one who is not celiac, I have found that cutting the wheat back to a minimum allows for minor indiscretions.
    I accept what I first learned from Robb Wolf’s and Dr Cordain’s excellent books. The “wheat” we are sold today is a modified, hybridized, mutated version of what used to be wheat and is not fit for human consumption.

    Shane wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • “I accept what I first learned from Robb Wolf’s and Dr Cordain’s excellent books. The “wheat” we are sold today is a modified, hybridized, mutated version of what used to be wheat and is not fit for human consumption.”

      Do you tolerate spelt?

      Jejunum wrote on September 4th, 2013
  13. About 3 years ago I went gluten/wheat free based on what a friend of mine told me about her ordeal – she has fibromyalga and celiac disease. So, I am all for trying to be more healthy (and I am a Yoga teacher)….what a difference!!!

    Not only did I feel better overall, I didn’t get the “head fuzzies” in the morning, I had a whole lot more natural energy (no jitters), and I was able to do my Yoga postures much more easily and better! I am convinced that gluten and wheat can be very bad for people whether or not they have an obvious intolerance. And now eating Primal, well, it just doesn’t get any better than that!!!

    Marcie wrote on September 4th, 2013
  14. Wow, great post. Lots of points to remember if I ever run into the bashing, which I haven’t yet. Pretty new ar this but so far finding ways to order just meat and vegetables without mentioning gluten free. Eating this way is making enough of a change already – gluten never “seemed” be an issue for me – that I can appreciate your passion about this. I imagine you’re in for a nice long paddle this afternoon. Thanks Mark.

    Ray wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Be careful if you order fried meat, as some meat like steak, liver (especially) and even things like lamb or pork chops can be dipped in flour, or the gravy thickened with flour.

      Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
  15. “…gluten free water” – I love it! I’ve been waiting to hear this on a commercial or see it printed on a bottle. It will happen, the time will come.

    JR wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Like the signs on Pizzerias…”we use real cheese”. To even have to say something like that means we have strayed badly. Isn’t this fun?

      Nocona wrote on September 4th, 2013
  16. I’ve been gluten free going on 4 years now. With exception of a few denial moments. Anytime I’ve reintroduced gluten the reaction is stronger and more unpleasant. I don’t follow a primal diet to a “T” but when I stick to no grains, whether its rice or wheat, I feel sooo much better. Most carbs for me affect every organ in my body. I get the eye rolls and I think my family gets really sick of hearing how I think they should eat. The research is too compelling to ignore if you have any common sense at all. Unfortunately, carbs are addictive and hard to break away from. Thanks for the post Mark. Helps me reaffirm why I’ve made the changes I’ve made!

    Tobie Johnson wrote on September 4th, 2013
  17. Everytime I read about the CW mindset it always brings me back to the same thing; When the Zombie apocolpse begins I know who is going down first and it ain’t going to be me.

    Matt wrote on September 4th, 2013
  18. I think the rising popularity of gluten free is a double edge sword.

    In a way it undermines those with celiac disease. My son and I are celiacs and we get REALLY ill if we eat just a crumb of gluten – e.g: something cross contaminated in cooking. Before the rise in gluten free awareness we didn’t have many problems when eating out as restaurants always took us seriously as they knew we had a medical disease, now because it’s way more common we are treated as an inconvenience, another one of those people on a faddy gluten free diet and I think somewhere the fact that some of us don’t just have an intolerance has been lost.

    On the upside the choice and awareness now is amazing, especially for a shy, easily embarassed 11 year old boy.

    Sarah wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I’ve never eaten anything that has said Gluten Free. What are some of these choices that make you so happy and are amzed with? What about just eating Primal? Curious…

      Nocona wrote on September 4th, 2013
  19. Went gluten free to help my husband recover from lifelong IBS and also from memory loss from a concussion. In the process, I lost 52 pounds, he lost 40. I lost 11 inches of belly fat, we have more energy than when we were teenagers. Husband’s digestive issues gone. Memory better than in his whole life. All our aches and pains gone, off anti-depressants, off BP meds, off cholesterol meds. Eating real food that is delicious. We get teased constantly about our strict adherence to this way of eating. Too bad – we will never go back to eating grains of any sort. Going primal changed our lives in no time flat. We’ve had no less than 3 doctors nearly fall off their chairs when they reviewed the complete tunaround in our bloodwork. While other people our age continue to get fat and have chronic pain and memory issues, we’ll be hiking in the park and eating some grass fed steak. So there.

    Cindy wrote on September 4th, 2013
  20. I myself found my way here several years ago (forget how many now) while Googling for gluten-free Christmas cookie recipes after my step-mother was diagnosed celiac. Changed my life.

    DeeDee wrote on September 4th, 2013
  21. I am one of those people who had no preconceived notions about gluten. I was trying the low carb Dukan diet to lose weight, when I noticed that various issues – gastroparesis vomiting, psoriasis and sneezing until I got a bloody nose – cleared up. I couldn’t understand what those things had in common and why a low carb diet could fix all of them. That’s when I found this site and others like it that actually had an explanation.

    The thing that bugs is me is when the angry outburst come from people with celiac disease. Rather than acting like we have a common cause, they act as as though being non celiac gluten-sensitive was somehow a threat to them!

    Dulcimina wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I have Celiac disease & while I actually encourage everyone to try going gluten free (especially if they have health issues), in some ways it has actually made life harder for those of us with severe reactions, just because it’s assumed by so many that we’re following a fad. See Sarah’s remark above & my reply on page 1.

      However what I hope is not that the fad goes away, rather that gf (better yet Primal) becomes a way of life for so many that it stops being seen as an attention-seeking annoyance & begins to be taken seriously by most of the people I meet. That would truly be heavenly!

      Paleo-curious wrote on September 4th, 2013
  22. Typical BBQ conversation this summer:

    Person A: “No bread? No bun? Don’t you like it?”

    Me: “I’m sure it’s great, but it gives me ‘wheat butt’, so, no thank you.”

    Person A retreats to their corner of the room, and I stand alone and victorious, with my burger on a fork.

    Erok wrote on September 4th, 2013
  23. I am Italian. I have been eating pasta, bread and bisquits for decades. I was NOT celiac. I was, on the contrary, healthy… at least according to the standards.
    However, removing wheat, oat and barley (I still have some rice occasionally) definitely improved my health, I am not speaking about washboad abs, I am speaking about hydric retention, bloating, brain fog and such.
    Everybody is gluten sensitive, some more, some less.

    Primal Alex wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • You must be from the northern part of Italy where they grow rice.

      Enjoy some Risotto! :-)

      Jejunum wrote on September 4th, 2013
  24. Good article overall!
    Only caveat:
    People who have any reason to suspect they have celiac disease should be tested by a doctor BEFORE going gluten free. It’s good to get the diagnosis (especially for kids, because then schools /colleges have to accommodate) but it can also be helpful in work situations, if you’re ever hospitalized or in any other setting where you can’t control your own food (only examples I can think of are jail and the military, but there may be others) There’s also other tests that should be done for people with celiac – vitamin levels, bone density, etc.. Plus the endoscopy gives the doc a starting point to see if the gluten free diet is working and the gut is healing. If you go gluten free without having this done, any testing for celiac disease will be inaccurate – or you’ll be forced to go on a ‘gluten challenge’ which involves eating a significant amount of gluten for a couple of months. The first test is a simple blood test that any doc should be able to order for you – it’s pretty accurate, but technically the ‘gold standard’ for diagnosis still includes an endoscopy to view the small intestines and check for characteristic damage. If you don’t care about testing, or you’ve been tested and it was negative, then by all means give up the gluten and see if it makes you feel better. I never had the endoscopy portion of testing done, because of bad advice from a doc who told me to just try the diet after I had the positive blood test. Part of me wishes I’d had it done now – more to see how bad the damage was (and whether I’m healing now) than because of any doubt that I’ve got celiac. Celiac isn’t a joke or a fad – and personally, I think we’re going to find out that non-celiac gluten intolerance is just as real – either as a separate disorder or in people who actually have celiac and just aren’t sick enough for it to show on tests yet.

    Celiac has definitely helped me eat a healthier, more primal diet. When first diagnosed, it’s easy to binge on all the ‘gluten free’ substitutes until you realize that they don’t taste that great, they’re pricey, and you don’t feel that good after eating them. Not worth it; would rather have a piece of dark chocolate!

    Kate wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Agree very much Kate, they will also be properly monitored for related issues and deficiencies. In the UK celiacs get free prescription items and are also not allowed to join our armed forces!

      Sarah wrote on September 4th, 2013
  25. The stark, aggressive reaction common of those ‘supposedly’ skeptical of the gluten free fad derives from a fear of everything they enjoy being removed from their life. I say ‘supposedly’ because it is becoming far too obvious to anyone that there is something to this ‘fad’ – they are just not willing to admit it. The relationship people have with these gluten containing foods is the first sign of an unhealthy eating habit.

    T.R` wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • This!

      After I explained to a friend that gluten makes me debilitatingly hypersensitive to seasonal allergens, even when the pollen count is low, he recommended I be gluten-free during the times of the year when allergies peak and eat gluten as normal the rest of the year. After a bit more explaining on my part that this wasn’t enough and my allergy attacks couldn’t be predicted by a pollen forecast and that they were in themselves a symptom of a greater problem of inflammation, he ultimately told me he loved bread so much that if it made him sick, he’d rather eat it and stay sick than live without it.

      Michelle wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • “The relationship people have with these gluten containing foods is the first sign of an unhealthy eating habit.”

      I’m convinced gluten has addictive-like effects on a lot of people, primarily because as a former booze-addict the same arguments I’d hear from friends – “Surely you can have just one, a little of what you fancy does you good, don’t you know it’s good for the heart” – and, on a couple of occasions, attempts to actually spike my drink and slip me some booze unawares – are all very similar to the tactics used re: gluten and wheat-based products.

      If anyone thinks I’m going too far, reflect on whether a sardine-free diet or a growing interest in cutting out sardines would raise the same emotive and wheedling reaction – “can’t you have just these special sardines, they’re an ancestral variety, anyway you probably could eat sardines but you’re just being faddy” etc that I see here and on other forums.

      Not to mention that chef guy who was giving people food with gluten in for a laugh after they’d specifically requested not to have it. Can you imagine anyone pulling that kind of stunt with spinach?!

      When it becomes the norm to talk about consuming a particular thing in moderation, that indicates that a significant number of people regularly consume more of it than they’d planned to, despite known adverse effects – a classic indicator of addiction.

      And when people know deep down that they have a problem with something, they can stand anything but seeing someone else who’s walked away and is free, healthier, and happier than ever before.

      JMO. ;)

      Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • “When it becomes the norm to talk about consuming a particular thing in moderation, that indicates that a significant number of people regularly consume more of it than they’d planned to, despite known adverse effects – a classic indicator of addiction.”

        Yes, yes, yes!

        I was talking to a person (online) adamant that his 3 to 4 time a day soda habit was “moderate” and okay with an otherwise healthy diet. He didn’t like it when I asked why you’d want to drink that much soda if eating an otherwise healthy diet. He then got offended when I suggested there wasn’t all that much difference between a habit like that and cigarettes. (I’m good at annoying people. ;) )

        Personally, I don’t care if someone has those type of habits (unless I’m asked to pay for them.) I’ve been there too with bad habits. I still have a few. But I’m a lot happier and more grounded by knowing that they are bad habits. No more “all things in moderation” rationalizations.

        Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
  26. There’s almost no reason to ask for gluten free options at a restaurant. You do your best. You order things that are identifiable as real food. Order a baked chicken or a piece of fish. Decline bread. Ask for salad dressing on the side. And don’t expect a restaurant to be as good for you as eating at home where you get to control whether or not the eggs are soy free or the chickens and beef pasture raised. It’s not that hard. It’s easy to ask that a piece of fish normally served on rice to instead be on a some steamed veggies. I’ve never had a problem using these simple ways. And if people think gluten free is a “fad” they’re welcome not to do it. My friends look at me and say they didn’t think you could look like this at 64.

    ellen wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I like liver, but that’s most usually coated in flour before frying, so there are occasions when even the most primal foods have to be prepared in a way that cuts out exposure to gluten. :)

      Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I do this. And then I’m constantly surprised when I later find the allergen statements or ingredients lists that even the rice (local Mexican place), grilled shrimp (Chili’s), or STEAMED ASPARAGUS (Red Lobster) has gluten in it! More often than not, it’s the industrial seasonings. It’s a good thing I’m not sensitive to occasional cross-contamination, but it’s bad news for people that are. Sometimes it’s best to ask for a gluten free menu just for the awareness. I’ve worked in a kitchen before, and just having people ask for a gluten-free modification made the kitchen more aware of how they cross-contaminate allergens. When they didn’t think we had gluten-free customers to worry about, they’d get sloppy. ie. they’d not reuse a pan that was used to toast pecans to make the cookies, but they’d reuse the pan that was used to make croutons to toast the nuts.

      Michelle wrote on September 4th, 2013
  27. Thanks for this wonderful post! My husband and I have been primal since spring but once a month we have a traditional Italian pizza – our only cheat in the whole month. It makes me so itchy every time, and the weirdest thing is that the next morning I always wake up 2-3lb heavier. The weight goes back to normal in the next 2 or 3 days. Last time I ended up having a pizza on two consecutive days and hated myself for it afterwards. But it was an interesting experiment nonetheless .I was 2lb heavier the morning after the first pizza, but I didn’t think the second pizza would have the same affect, The next morning I was 3lb heavier! So 5lb in two days. It took me around a week to shed the weight. And that’s for someone whose weight never fluctuates by more than 1lb! For me, that’s definitely a proof that gluten (or grains in general) has a very bad effect on my body. My theory is that it’s probably water retention due to toxic effects of wheat. In any case, even if a lot of people don’t understand us, primal eating is the best thing anyone can do for their health!

    Vita @ EcceVita wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Vita, I love pizza, but now I do the toppings alone on a Pyrex heatproof glass plate, or make mini-versions on a big flat mushroom, and i quickly realised it was never the base that was the high-point anyway! :)

      I usually squoosh a few tablespoons of a herby/garlicky tomato sauce over the plate, then layer on mozzarella, then add whatever other toppings… I’m not sure if that would translate for your own trad. recipe but I can definitely tell you there are pizza-LIKE options, even serving the same toppings on sliced baked potato or slices of ham, chicken skin, or omelets! ;)

      Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Just using the word squoosh makes me hungry!

        Nocona wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Thanks for the ideas! I can’t say I am actually craving pizza so much, I could simply give it up completely. The problem is my husband is Italian and, since he’s given up everything Italian by going Paleo, going to a pizzeria once a month is like a very very special treat for him. What’s interesting is that he feels perfectly fine but I feel completely “hungover” the next morning. I suppose Italians probably have some kind of “resistance” genes for wheat like Russians do for alcohol! :) Next time, I’ll simply order some seafood or a salad. It’s the only cheat I still allow myself and I’m definitely not proud of it.

        Vita @ EcceVita wrote on September 4th, 2013
  28. Yes, my dad referred me to a story where someone got really sick after ELIMINATING gluten. Some baseball player’s wife? I have no idea, but he clearly thinks it’s a fad. I, however, refuse to listen to anything that implies gluten is GOOD for you. It’s not. It’s something to be removed from your body, not something that nourishes it.

    I too suffer from asthma and eczema. I have been gluten free for about 45 days now and most of the eczema has cleared up and the asthma is better too. I have never had a complete food allergy panel skin test done although I know I have terrible reactions to pineapple and sunflower that are immediate and unmistakeable. I did ELISA delayed food response testing to 377 different foods and nothing really came up (except honey? Weird). So I’m not too sure about testing reliability. I certainly feel better and have lost 8 pounds. I don’t miss wheat. I also removed gluten free substitutes and that makes things simpler as well. Paleo coconut bread works fine if I desperately must have a sandwich. I was never much of a pasta eater anyway. The big elimination for me was the flour from sweets. That’s made all the difference, from what I can tell.

    Jeanne wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • You can, for example, send your dad this link:
      http://www.tenderfoodie.com/blog/2011/12/19/interview-w-dr-alessio-fasano-part-1-should-anyone-eat-glute.html
      It is not just any “story” – it is a proper interview with a scientist who is working on celiac and gluten sensitivity research. Very informative and thought-provoking. He basically says that NO ONE can properly digest gluten. Humans just don’t have necessary enzymes for it. People who tolerate gluten, can get rid of undegistible parts more or less well. Those who cannot do it, develop gluten sensitivity or celiac.

      klipka wrote on September 5th, 2013
      • thank you for this link

        Greg wrote on September 6th, 2013
  29. I understand some of the push back on the gluten free trend even though it seems legitimate, why? Because Americans seem to overdo any trend and it gets morphed into something beyond its original intent.

    The fat free one was probably the most terribly devastating one to overall health of people for the reasons given in the article.

    Now, the most overdone trend these days is the word “amazing”. Everything is now “amazing”! ;)

    Steven wrote on September 4th, 2013
  30. Anyone who thinks Primal, paleo, and/or gluten-free are fads should:

    1. Try it for 30 days. If it’s not true, and you notice no change, you only lose a month, right?

    2. Read Mark’s books and also pick up a copy of “Wheat Belly” somewhere for a little deeper explanation of the science behind going grain- (not just gluten-) free.

    I have always known I’ve had a grain sensitivity, since maybe 19 or 20 (I’m now 36). Turns out my little brother was sensitive too: he went grain-free (including his beloved beer) and has lost probably close to 30 lbs in the last year since I sent him Primal Blueprint and Wheat Belly. Both of us have lost severe heartburn (he was on prescription meds for years; I chewed Tums like jelly beans constantly) and moderate-to-severe depression and anxiety problems disappeared as well.

    It’s no fad if it works; it’s settled science at this point. Even if you aren’t gluten/grain sensitive/allergic, if you are eating grains, you are messing up your insulin/blood-sugar regulation, causing addiction and inflammation, hurting your teeth/gums, and are probably at least a little overweight and yet still malnourished. Grains are grass seeds that have evolved to pass through animals’ digestive tracts unharmed in order to spread. Grains are NOT food any more than pine cones or peach pits are food. It’s time we stop treating them like they are.

    Josh wrote on September 4th, 2013
  31. When I started my paleo journey over four years ago my health improved immeasurably. The people around me did not fair so well – they all developed a pain in their ass – me.

    I have simply made peace with the fact that everyone needs to find what works best for them. I have recently started to cheat more, but only good bread – not mindless pasta dishes or crappy stuff. Gluten free pizza works for me. Eating largely paleo with lots of intermittent fasting has kept me healthy, with the weight off. I can eat like this for the rest of my life – no problem. Never eating any wheat again? I’m lucky – apparently I can get away with it – I intend to enjoy good food and that will sometimes include wheat. But I have found from all of this – number one – listen to your body.

    I think if you are getting lots of hostile or sarcastic reactions from people regarding your food choices, it is best to examine your own views. I know I felt and often acted superior – often with just that energy or intent – the words were not necessary. People reacted my energy and intent – not my food requests or ideas.

    I think it’s very easy to be swept up in all the positive changes resulting from paleo eating, including gluten free. I was genuinely enthusiastic to spread the word, but I was preaching.

    Paleo Ron Burgundy said it best above:

    Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you, and be silent.

    Epictetus (55 AD – 135 AD)

    Those Stoics were pretty smart. And the people around me have found their painful asses feeling much better and it was me that changed – not them.

    John Campbell wrote on September 4th, 2013
  32. At first, I thought gluten-free was silly, but when my husband and I went Primal, we eliminated bread (my husband still misses it). I experienced no noticeable effects, but my husband’s intestinal problems disappeared, which he had experienced since he was a child. I just thought that it was due to eliminating bread; I really did not know that it was the gluten. Also my daughter who had earlier gone Primal realized that her problems had likewise disappeared. So I definitely am persuaded.

    Patricia Purdy wrote on September 4th, 2013
  33. Consult a doctor? Consult a doctor?! Doctors know nothing about Health!

    Christine wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • What is a doctor? I’ll only go in an emergency (probably beyond my control).

      Nocona wrote on September 4th, 2013
  34. My angle on Paleo/Primal diet (I hate the diet word… more a lifestyle for me…) was health by removing processed foods from my life… Naturally, grains went out the window as well as industrial oils….

    I had IBS and Reflux for most of my adult life… Specialists often told me there was nothing to do, it was just like that… live with it and take your proton pump poison… Hmm… Now, is it the lack of gluten or industrial oils? I don’t know, but since going strict 8 months ago, no more gastric problems… its almost like a new life…

    I say strict, because before that 8 month I was doing the 80/20 rule… and that did not work… I saw a huge difference when I went 100%… I even abandonned beer… and that was almost more difficult to kick than bread!… But what a change…

    I don’t eat gluten free… my diet simply happens to not contain any grain (not even rice…). It also contains a lot of good fat… but this is probably the subject of another comment…

    Great post Mark…

    Serge wrote on September 4th, 2013
  35. As a 30+ year celiac, the hype has been good for me.

    Now, there is at least a chance I can buy a few commercial product or eat out and not get sick afterwards from hidden gluten.

    While some of the product marketing is really over the top (and thinking people can figure this out), having the food industry recognize there is part of the population that wants accurate food labeling has been a benefit.

    Kim wrote on September 4th, 2013
  36. A tactic I’ve been using when I have to eat out is to tell the waiter that although the bread/pizza/whatever looks good, I’m going to need their help finding something gluten-free, because I’ve been put on a strict gluten-free diet for X number of weeks (I usually say six) by my GP pending some tests – this gets a better and less sneery reaction than my experience a few times of asking about gluten-free options, without qualifying the reasons.

    It’s the classical “transferral of responsibility” tactic that parents use with children, when they say “Don’t break that or the man in the shop will tell you off” etc., and it’s corny as hell and bad that we should need it – but, I have to eat out a few times a month for work, and it works so far.

    And yes, it’s a lie, but a white one that harms no-one, and prevents inadvertant or neglectfully careless harm being done to me, since flour is often used in small amounts in meat dishes to coat the meat or thicken a sauce.

    Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
  37. And maybe one of these days, the FDA will actually require gluten to be on a label. It irritates me to no end that only “wheat” is required to be labeled.

    Jill wrote on September 4th, 2013
  38. Great post. I went paleo for training purposes and ended up with a positive celiac diagnosis. If not for the ‘fad’, I would still be sick and miserable (and 50lbs heavier!), and headed for many bigger health problems.

    I just wish we had more discussion of primal/paleo/whole foods in the general discourse. It bums me out when friends figure out that gluten-free really works, then end up living on gluten free junk food and wonder why they still feel terrible. I think its more common than indicated above, actually…I’ve seen it happen with lots of new celiacs and gluten sensitives. Its not really about removing gluten, its about replacing it with healthful, real food. But a lot of people don’t even know what that is.

    I sometimes see people who get so hung up on gluten = evil as a single variable problem, that they become rather fixated, anxious and even obnoxious about it. Just the other day, I stood behind a woman in a takeout place who had the poor kid at the counter bring out every restaurant bottle of dressing so she could (loudly, plaintively) recount every ingredient aloud, and comment on whether it was gluten free or not. Seriously, please don’t do this (especially if you’re incorrect, which this woman was, with about half the things!). I have celiac, and I don’t do this, because its a lousy, entitled, obnoxious thing to do. If you’re so sensitive that cross-contamination is a factor, that’s valid; but realize that most commercial kitchens are not able to cater to you. Cook for yourself, and seek out GF restaurants. Becoming a huge pain in the butt makes it tougher on everybody (by contributing to the derision and eyerolls Mark references above). I think there’s room for improvement on both sides of this issue.

    Jordan wrote on September 4th, 2013
  39. Good post!

    My two cents is this:

    I absolutely HATE being preached to by others on what I eat.

    I absolutely LOVE learning about choices and information about what I eat. There is a BIG difference.

    I eat Primal and intermittent fast 5 days a week. All my vital signs are excellent! Two days a week I eat whatever I damn well please. Pizza, bagels, ice cream – whatever.

    I really APPRECIATE you info and ideas. It has helped me a great deal. Please keep it up.

    Walter sasiadek wrote on September 4th, 2013
  40. The reason you will continue to see “gluten-free” appearring on the labels of products like humus, yoghurt, and yes even water :) is that many of these are made or packaged alongside gluten-containing foods, which could corss-contaminate them to the small degrees which celiacs find problematic.

    The European Union has issued new guidelines on this:

    “The European Commission, using recent internationally recognised scientific evidence, has introduced compositional and labelling standards (Commission Regulation (EC) No. 41/2009) that set levels of gluten for foods claiming to be either ‘gluten-free’ or ‘very low gluten’, which came into force in January 2012. These levels are:

    * ‘gluten-free': at 20 parts per million of gluten or less
    * ‘very low gluten': at 100 parts per million of gluten or less – however, only foods with cereal ingredients that have been specially processed to remove the gluten may make a ‘very low gluten’ claim.”
    (There’s a link from my name below this post to the UK govt’s page about this.)

    If you go to purchase a product that contains no obvious sources of gluten, yet is not labelled with one of those terms, you now know it’s possibly cross-contaminated – be it the food in a Pret A Manger that has no wheat in it, yet may be cross-contaminated because the tongs or serving tray have been in contact with wheat products, or the yoghurts or rice packaged in the same factory as a crunchy-wheat yoghurt pot, or a cereal packing company that also handles barley.

    So THAT’S not a fad, either – just a recognition of some people’s extremely high sensitivity to gluten. :)

    Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013

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