I am going on a rant here, so bear with me (or not), but something is really starting to piss me off and I want to talk about it.
It started with THIS POST, "Will Everyone Please Eat Gluten? Please..." by Elissa Strauss.
And then THIS ARTICLE came out via Runners World on Twitter.
Now let me preface my rant by saying that I have tremendous respect and compassion for people who have dietary restrictions for medical/health reasons (life-threatening allergy, celiac, lactose-intolerant, gluten-sensitive, etc.). I am sensitive to the needs of my guests and, when entertaining, will prepare foods that are healthy and I know that they can enjoy without fear, and this extends to my vegan/vegetarian friends as well. The last thing I want to happen to any of my friends or family is to go home sick from a meal because I know the tremendous vigilance it takes when you suffer from something like this.
I also respect an individual's right to exclude certain foods from their own diet/nutrition/eating plan when it is simply their choice. And this is an equally tough battle because anyone who makes specific nutrition choices, to some degree or another, has encountered the family member/friend/total stranger who says, "Come on, just one piece/slice/drink/bite of XYZ won't hurt you," when, quite frankly, you know it can/will derail your efforts to keep XYZ off your plate.
I began following a Paleo diet over two years ago as a test for athletic performance. I quickly discovered that it was a lifestyle that worked for me. I lost 20 lbs, leaned up, felt amazing and had energy through the roof. Because I chose to avoid grains, legumes, dairy, processed foods, sugar, soy, etc., however, I always knew that I could have dairy or cake or cookies and it wasn't going to be life threatening. That doesn't mean that I think any of those things are good for me, which is why I choose not to eat them for the most part. I choose not to eat grains/gluten because I feel better when I don't - and for good reason. Grains are essentially indigestible and they bind to other good nutrients in your food and prevent them from being absorbed. Grains cause gut inflammation in most people - and if most people stopped eating grains/gluten they'd probably be amazed at how much better they felt. I choose not to, not because it's trendy, but because it's healthy for MOST people.
Pardon me, but the writer in the first post I mentioned comes off as a whiny spoiled brat. I get her point, I truly do, but she's going to have to come to grips with the fact that she has to make some hard choices. If you have celiac you may not be able to eat out at most restaurants. You may have to prepare most of your meals at home. And if you feel that your life/health is in jeopardy, don't eat at a restaurant that doesn't take you seriously. Vote with your dollar and support the restaurants that do.
And, yes, there are Gluten-Free Liars, Fakers and Cheats out there. You find these individuals in every type of "diet" - vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, gluten-free, macrobiotic, etc. They are the ones thrive on drama and who will go into a restaurant and drive the servers crazy, make a huge scene at family dinners, or dinner parties with friends. "I can't/won't eat THAT" they say, or they want to make substitutions, omissions or deletions from every dish they order. Yes, they are assholes, but thankfully they are mostly few and far between.
Don't be THAT guy/girl. Do your homework. Go on line and review the menu for a restaurant in advance to see if there are dishes you can eat that don't require extraordinary measures on the part of of the kitchen/chef. Call ahead and ask if they can accommodate you. Many times, they are happy to do so. Be kind to the server when you do go and be patient. And LEAVE A HEALTHY TIP. They will be happy to have you return.
And just a short note on the second Runners World post - first of all a study of 37 people is really not conclusive of ANYTHING. I tried to look up who funded this "study" but it was not available on the website (perhaps the wheat council?). They are basically trying to say people are probably sensitive to FODMAPs and not gluten, but ironically, they include wheat in the FODMAPs list. They also say if you omit grains from your diet and you don't need to, you'll suffer from nutritional imbalances. WHAT? Grains are one of the most nutrient-poor foods on the planet - you do not need grains for nutrients or fiber.
Do yourself a favor, ditch the grains, processed and fast foods, and sugar - fill the void with whole foods like vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Meat if you are inclined. Your gut with thank you for it. It may seem "trendy" now, but just wait - someday it will be the norm and those with celiac will thank us for supporting the movement.