What’s up with gluten?

In an earlier post, I tried to make “a funny” about someone who might be on a theoretical crusade against gluten (starting with dollar pizza shops). As my friend Rob pointed out, I failed miserably, and insulted those with actual gluten sensitivity and/or celiac disease in the process.

However, the current gluten-free craze does bring up questions.

First of all, I am very happy that this craze exists, because it means there are more options for people who truly are negatively affected by gluten. Ten years ago, most people had never even heard of gluten, and people with celiac disease had to find specialty stores in order to eat a sandwich that wouldn’t make them sick. Now, many supermarkets have entire gluten-free sections.

Now that I got that out of the way, here is the reason for this post. I was scrolling along my Facebook feed, when I found that one of my favorite pages, I F*cking Love Science (IFLS), posted this:

“Unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, going gluten free will do *nothing* for your health.

Image via Skepchick.


While I completely agree with the sentiment of the sign, I do not believe in IFLS’ addition.

Sure, there are people who appear to be going gluten-free because they think it’s cool, or they’re hoping they’ll be able to shed those last few pounds. Sites like Natural News seem to contribute toward this. (Warning: do not trust Natural News; the reasons will take up their own post). The Jimmy Kimmel Show demonstrated that some people who are foregoing gluten don’t even know what it is.

This is dangerous for people whose health is actually affected by gluten. I’ve heard anecdotes about people whose gluten sensitivity isn’t taken seriously, because friends, relatives, or food service workers assume that the gluten sensitivity isn’t real.

Personally, I’ve been struggling with this. I’ve noticed that certain gastrointestinal symptoms appear to be correlated with gluten consumption. However, since I haven’t been diagnosed, I’m afraid to say I’m gluten-free, because I don’t want to seem like I’m just being trendy, or, worse, somehow reflect negatively on people who have it worse than I do.

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