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Gluten hysteria is just that - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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Gluten hysteria is just that [Jan. 12th, 2012|09:55 am]
Zoethe
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In the long quest to find The Answer To All Diets, people rush from one fad to the next, one year embracing cabbage soup, the next eating nothing but bacon and steak. One year gulping down juice fasts, the next eschewing fruit entirely. We want the golden ticket, the easy fix. And every guru who comes down the road with proclamations of the One True Way leads people in his or her path, the newest Pied Piper.

Eventually people grow tired of eating in the prescribed way and drop out of the parade, feeling like failures. Then the voices of science and reason begin to penetrate the insanity, and most people return to their previous weights, discouraged and cynical, but waiting for the next bandwagon to jump aboard.

Currently, that bandwagon is gluten. Gluten is the Great Poisoner of People. We're told that the staff of life is EEEEEVIL, and that we can all be thin if we just stop eating bread. People are swearing off gluten left and right. Gluten-free substitutes crowd the grocery shelves.

I admit that I have a personal interest here. I am, after all, a bread baker. It's dismaying to read that this food I love is the Cause of All Fatness. It's also very suspicious to me, because people have been eating bread for centuries. Our obesity epidemic is a recent phenomenon. So the assumption that bread is the root of all evil doesn't make much sense to me.

Now, there is no doubt that certain medical conditions preclude the ingestion of gluten, particularly celiac disease. But for people without that disease, scientists are now warning that gluten avoidance may be bad for their health. This article from the Atlantic Monthly warns that cutting gluten out of our lives may lead to other deficiencies. And that there is no scientific evidence proving that gluten ingestion causes weight gain.

I concede that some people DO lose weight on a gluten-free regime, but that appears to spring from a general improvement in their diet: less fast food, more fresh fruit and veggies. The elimination of bread isn't the key.

So once again, it's sensible eating that makes the difference. Not some secret ingredient. There's no magic bullet.

Crossposting from Dreamwidth now. Sigh. If LJ won't let you comment, you can comment here: http://zoethe.dreamwidth.org/790171.html?mode=reply:
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[User Picture]From: ariaflame
2012-01-12 03:05 pm (UTC)
I have some friends with gluten and/or wheat intolerances, so I can cater for them more. But luckily I don't have to give up bread. Not making it regularly myself, but I indulged in buying a sourdough grain loaf this evening.

The only plus that I can think of for the current fad for gluten free for those who don't need it is a slight increase in choice and availability for those who do.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-12 03:25 pm (UTC)
And that part is good.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2012-01-12 03:07 pm (UTC)
If I may use myself for an example - having gone from a size 22 to a size 14 in the last 12+ months. You are so very right, there IS no magic bullet. Eat sensibly (and bread is included in that. Doesn't every type of cuisine have some type of bread?) and MOVE MORE.

My Uncle had and my cousin has celiac disease. I've always felt rather sorry for them.

Your bread (and your bread posting make my MOUTH WATER) does not include preservatives or any of the 'nasty' things Yucky Old White Bread does. I strongly suspect that all the 'stuff' that's added has something to do with the obesity epidemic. That and less movement, less exercise.

All that pontificating to say I think you're right.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-12 03:28 pm (UTC)
Less movement, larger portion sizes, more hidden fat and HFCS bumping up calories, junk food, fast food.

Congratulations on the size change. That is a real accomplishment.
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[User Picture]From: hugh_mannity
2012-01-12 03:08 pm (UTC)
I've (reluctantly) had to give up pretty much all grains. I have type II diabetes and I've found that, for me, grains cause worse blood glucose spikes than sugar. Wheat is the worst culprit -- I can eat a little barley in a stew, or a small portion of rice with no noticeable consequences, but a slice of bread (white or whole grain) will give me an spike of around 200mg/dL. Oatmeal (plain, unsweetened) will give me a reading in the 300s (normal being 100 - 160ish)

Beer, fortunately, doesn't have much effect.

While there are a few things that almost everyone should avoid (HFCS, trans fats, green fuzzy meat), diet is still very much an individual thing.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-12 03:29 pm (UTC)
Bummer. But at least you are eating right for yourself.
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[User Picture]From: lea724
2012-01-12 03:11 pm (UTC)
I concede that some people DO lose weight on a gluten-free regime, but that appears to spring from a general improvement in their diet: less fast food, more fresh fruit and veggies.

A bit off-topic, but this reminds me of a Facebook friend I have who is quite religious (Christian-based) and posted recently something along the lines of: "Prayer works! [Her son] had been really scrawny during the first few months of life until he started eating food and now he's back on the weight chart and very healthy."

And I felt like pointing out to her that it's quite likely the food intake was the result of that transformation, not the prayer.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-12 03:31 pm (UTC)
I suppose the thinking is that he's eating because of prayer...?
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[User Picture]From: oceansedge
2012-01-12 03:18 pm (UTC)
I was told years ago by a hospital nutritionist/dietician that the most sensible, sustainable, healthy lifestyle 'diet' is the eating plan for Type2 diabetics. It just makes sense from a sensible / healthy LIFESTYLE standpoint. And while I'm not religious about it, and do miss the mark as often as not - that's always the framework I try to place all my dietary choices into.

Relatedly... this video has gone viral, and I can see why. Again, simple, brilliant, clear, sensible DOABLE health advice:
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[User Picture]From: lea724
2012-01-12 03:44 pm (UTC)
I was told years ago by a hospital nutritionist/dietician that the most sensible, sustainable, healthy lifestyle 'diet' is the eating plan for Type2 diabetics.

I recently started working out with a personal trainer who has strongly recommended to me that I cut out pasta/bread/starchy foods completely from my food intake.

I'm not comfortable with that, so I asked my doctor about it and asked about moderation portions and she recommended to me that I follow a diabetes diet if I want to be the most healthy in my eating.
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[User Picture]From: bart_calendar
2012-01-12 03:21 pm (UTC)
Well if you want a magic bullet for weight loss, meth will do the trick.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-12 03:33 pm (UTC)
Yes, but the side effects are not really what I'm looking for.
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[User Picture]From: wrendragon
2012-01-12 03:25 pm (UTC)
I avoided gluten for a little while thinking it was part of a stomach issue I was having, but I discovered it was actually just store-bought breads and white pasta that were a problem. I don't know what particular preservatives and crap they put in there, but it's only home-made bread for me now!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-12 03:35 pm (UTC)
That makes sense, too. When the ingredient list includes things I can't pronounce, I'm not buying it anymore.
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[User Picture]From: shadesong
2012-01-12 03:28 pm (UTC)
And actually, people with celiac often gain weight when they go gluten-free - because their intestines are healing and now they can actually absorb nutrients, which they couldn't before!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-12 03:35 pm (UTC)
Ooo, good point!
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[User Picture]From: anivair
2012-01-12 03:50 pm (UTC)
My take (disclaimer: I eat paleo and am biased). grains contain a lot of lectins. These are not digestible and they also cause damage to the gut lining because of certain proteins they have in them that lets them bind to the gut lining and pass through it, leaving holes on their way out. These proteins also interact with your body in other ways, causing your immune system to attack them, and they are similar enough that they can cause those same immune antibodies to attack other proteins like the ones in your body, which is pretty much how autoimmunity works. So for that reason I avoid grains, though I will admit that occasionally eating them is probably not going to do too much damage (however, americans don't "occasionally" consume them usually, they "constantly" consume them).

While eating bread is not new in this or any country, my understanding is that the amount of it and other grains that we eat IS pretty much larger than earlier in our history, when the SAD consisted of a lot more meat, veggie, starch meals with less bread and grains. I have nothing but norman rockwell and an iffy understanding of culinary anthropology earned from Good eats and the history channel to back that up with.

Gluten is, of course, a problem for anyone with celiac, but even those without celiac (or those who are not testing positive for it but have markers which is pretty common) have trouble digesting the stuff. Gluten also pretty much demolishes leptin signaling, which helps throw your insulin sensitivity out of whack, but to be honest, that only helps the case. Complex carbs do that well enough on their own. For me: I don't see any reason to eat it. Sometimes I do if I have a craving, but rarely.

For me the big issue is sugar. Sugar is eaten in huge record levels in this country and it's clear that it's making us fat (via insulin resistance among other things). It throws your hunger out of whack, it makes it hard for your body to regulate leptin and cortisol ... over all not good.

that said, anything with gluten is by definition and complex carb and that is really just sugar (it's actually 5 sugars linked together). When bread or pasta hits your system it's not functionally different than you eating heaping spoonfulls of sugar (it's actually different in that you actually get even more sugar in you, but in few other ways). Complex carbs are sugar. eating them puts more sugar in your body, period. Add to that the huge amount of sugar that most americans eat (in sodas, candy, sugar that is injected into their breasds in the form of corn syrup, in their condiments, in their egg salad, in their ... it's everywhere) that I think it becomes clear where the problem is.

And, honestly, for me I wouldn't eat a lot of complex carbs even if it were not for the damage it does to my gut, or the sugar. There's really no nutritionally value in it at all. It's calories with no nutrients. I'd rather eat foods that are nutrient dense. there's not one single nutrient found in grains (even fortified grains which I'd stay the hell away from at all costs) that you cannot find is way larger numbers elsewhere.

That said, I am not anyone's food mommy. Everyone I know is a grown up and can make their own food choices. Almost everyone i know eats candy or drinks or smokes or indulges in rich foods that are not good for them to some degree or another. They know what they're doing and can make their own choices. But I really see no benefit at all to gluten. Eat it or not, but personally, i would consider it a damaging substance like any other (sugar, alcohol, etc) and take care with it.

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[User Picture]From: hugh_mannity
2012-01-12 04:16 pm (UTC)
One of the problems with wheat -- or so I've heard -- is that the current type of wheat grown is very different from that grown as little as 50 years ago. It's a dwarf type which makes for easier harvesting. But it has more and different gluten which has contributed to to the rise of gluten sensitivity.

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[User Picture]From: sacramentalist
2012-01-12 04:28 pm (UTC)
calories in < calories out = weight loss.

I like Pollan's slogan: "Eat real food. Not too much. Eat mostly plants."
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-12 04:49 pm (UTC)
Yup, that's my aim.
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[User Picture]From: serenechaos
2012-01-12 05:29 pm (UTC)
I, as a celiac, am kind of glad that gluten free is a fad right now, regardless of the science. It means I can get tasty things at the grocery store. (When I am being good about my diet, which is only sometimes because I am terrible.)

But while I don't think that gf is a magic weight loss diet, I'm pretty sure it's on a better track to a nutritious diet, at least compared to the diet we were taught in school. Not that bread and crap is terrible, but we have really come to rely on it. Hell, it's in just about everything, and it's really just filling.
(Not that I don't want to eat every bread you post on here, of course!)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-12 06:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, better nutrition is definitely a good thing. I'm not preaching against that!
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[User Picture]From: soldiergrrrl
2012-01-12 05:46 pm (UTC)
*shrug* My husband has gone paleo, and it's done amazing things for his blood sugar issues. The amount of crap food in the house is diminishing rapidly and we're all eating better.

That being said, I'm not convinced gluten is teh evil, but I love to eat bread *way* too much, so we don't keep it in the house. Likewise with chips, cookies, cake, whatever. It's just easier, because yeah...I can snarf down a loaf of garlic bread and never blink.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-12 06:17 pm (UTC)
Crap removal is good for all eating plans, without a doubt.
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[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2012-01-12 06:05 pm (UTC)
Remember the fat-free fad that happened years ago? (I think in the late eighties/maybe early nineties.) Then there was the Atkins Diet. I was working at a bookstore in late 1996 and our phone was ringing off the hook with inquiries about whether we had received the revised edition of the AD. But yeah: it seems like people would have their bullshit meters go off more when they heard about the latest diet fad.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-12 06:18 pm (UTC)
Yup. And Scarsdale before Atkins. It's always one miracle cure after another.
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[User Picture]From: tortuga_tortuga
2012-01-12 06:22 pm (UTC)
I've been seeing a ton of gluten free stuff in stores lately but assumed it was related to the seemingly sudden explosion of food allergies. I had no idea that gluten-free to lose weight was A Thing. Huh.
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[User Picture]From: wednes
2012-01-12 06:44 pm (UTC)
I would assert that there is no one plan for weight loss that works for everyone. IMO, being tested for food allergies is a good place to start. Eating things like gluten, soy, corn, eggs, lactose, etc, can make some people retain weight--especially if their allergy is mild enough to go more or less unnoticed. If you have a low grade gluten allergy, you'll probably be wells erved by giving it up. If not, you're denying yourself good bread for nothing.

That said, even moderation should be taken in moderation. Personally, I'll be buying extra Girl Scout cookies this year.
;-]

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-13 12:50 am (UTC)
Most definitely. It's just the fad-chasing that drives me crazy.
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