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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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Comments:
[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: alexmegami
2012-01-12 10:34 pm (UTC)
In Nutrition class, we listed every single diet plan we could think of, just shouting them out. I think we came up with about 50 in the space of 5 minutes.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-13 12:52 am (UTC)
Scary.
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[User Picture]From: wdomburg
2012-01-13 03:16 pm (UTC)
The trend to eliminate (or at least reduce) fat is more than just a fad; it's a decades long initiative. It sort of worked, I guess. The percentage of calories consumed from fat is lower, but our absolute intake has increased. (On other words, we didn't eat less fat; we ate more carbs.)

Funny thing is, though the USDA is still encouraging people to cut their fat intake, the resulting glut of dairy fat has prompted the USDA created "Dairy Management" organization to engage in co-marketing campaigns with fast food chains like Domino's and Taco Bell to push new products containing large amounts of full fat cheese.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-13 03:21 pm (UTC)
And the "cut the fat" initiatives may well be completely wrong-headed. Fat helps with satiety, which stops overeating.
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[User Picture]From: wdomburg
2012-01-13 08:42 pm (UTC)
And fat in processed foods is often replaced with sugars, which have the opposite effect, relaxing the stomach and making you feel less full.

What boggles me is how much the low fat mantra has been extended to children, who need extra fat for proper development. There are extreme examples, of course. You can't feed your child nothing but Hostess products and fast food and expect good results, but giving an otherwise healthy, active child skim milk strikes me as silly.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-01-14 01:51 am (UTC)
Absolutely agreed. It's insane.
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[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2012-01-13 08:02 pm (UTC)
Sure, but it was at that particular time where I noticed that they had everything in fat free form that it became a fad . . . to such an extent that I was surprised they didn't market fat-free fat!
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[User Picture]From: wdomburg
2012-01-13 08:33 pm (UTC)
Fat-free "cream" isn't far off the mark. :)
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From: anonymousalex
2012-01-16 11:30 pm (UTC)
Isn't that precisely what Olestra was?

-Alex
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