Skip

All sorrows are less with bread.
May 14, 2014 10:55 AM   Subscribe


 
"A gluten is anything that's bad for you. It's like an umbrella term. Calories, those are glutens."
posted by leotrotsky at 11:00 AM on May 14 [37 favorites]


Instead, as RCS reported last week, FODMAPS are a far more likely cause of the gastrointestinal problems attributed to gluten intolerance...Coincidentally, some of the largest dietary sources of FODMAPs -- specifically bread products -- are removed when adopting a gluten-free diet, which could explain why the millions of people worldwide who swear by gluten-free diets feel better after going gluten-free.
posted by Beardman at 11:02 AM on May 14 [10 favorites]


The last line of the article should have been part of the article's headline.
Currently, Biesiekierski is focused on maintaining an open mind and refining her experimental methods to determine whether or not gluten sensitivity truly exists.

"We need to make sure that this research is as well controlled as possible and is reproducible," Biesiekierski told RCS, subsequently adding the quintessential adage of proper science.

"Much, much more research is needed."
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:03 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


That was a confusing article. First it says the effect was psychological, then it says it is due to a molecule, just not the one we thought. But it says that without letting those silly, delusional relief-finding sheeple consumers off the hook.
posted by bleep at 11:06 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


"Much, much more research is needed."

Celsius1414, the day that is an article's headline is the day actual scientific reporting replaces "articles written after talking to scientists, or at least reading about them."
posted by IAmBroom at 11:08 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


God, a low FODMAP diet is 100x worse than a low gluten diet!

No onions or asparagus? No avocado? No thanks!
posted by Huck500 at 11:09 AM on May 14 [11 favorites]


Living with (and cooking for) my husband, who has Celiac disease, I would say that the effect of eating anything with a small amount of gluten is real and serious. That doesn't take away from the fact that current GF diets are fads for people without CD who pursue them, but I'd bet the existence of fad diets is more predictable and reliable than the results of Gibson's research.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:09 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


And last, but not least, nine days worth of urine and fecal matter would be collected.

Now that's science!
posted by thelonius at 11:10 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


I've at least been willing to lend some credence to the GI upset complaints--what's gotten me more is how many people I know now who claim to be avoiding gluten because they "just feel better" when they don't have it. Well, great, if you feel better when you don't eat bread, don't eat bread, but that doesn't mean it's the gluten. But all the fuss about it being "gluten" has made things more complicated for people with real celiac, a friend of mine has had restaurant trouble with places not getting that no, she can't have any, period, they can't tell her the meal is gluten-free if it only has a little bit.

I'd be willing to go even simpler than the FODMAP thing and observe that most of the people I know who've done better off bread are probably benefiting from just paying more attention to their food and no longer living entirely on refined carbohydrates. I think Paleo's biggest success is that it tricks people into learning how to cook.
posted by Sequence at 11:11 AM on May 14 [32 favorites]


Wait, wait, are you suggesting that my gluten-free friends have in truth just been... really annoying people? All along?
posted by Naberius at 11:12 AM on May 14 [66 favorites]


Yes, Naberius, it is as I suspected...
posted by infini at 11:15 AM on May 14


Wait, wait, are you suggesting that my gluten-free friends have in truth just been... really annoying people? All along?

Is it just me, or does this call for a grand finale musical number?
posted by Sequence at 11:18 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


Say what you will about the tenets of a gluten-free diet but at least that's more pizza and bagels for the rest of us.
posted by perhapses at 11:19 AM on May 14 [31 favorites]


In conclusion nothing was concluded.

Also, I'd say it's a safe bet that your gluten-free* friends are more annoyed with the gluten-free diet than you are. It is incredibly inconveniencing.

*if they are truly gluten-sensitive.
posted by GrapeApiary at 11:22 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


"A gluten is anything that's bad for you. It's like an umbrella term. Calories, those are glutens."

"it turns out, gluten is the thing in food that makes it taste good"
posted by Hoopo at 11:22 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


I've long thought that for most people, a gluten-free diet is a "positional good".
A positional good is a good that people acquire to signalise where they stand in a social hierarchy; it is acquired in order to set oneself apart from others. Positional goods therefore have a peculiar property: the utility their consumers derive from them is inversely related to the number of people who can access them.

Positionality is not a property of the good itself, it is a matter of the consumer’s motivations. I may buy an exquisite variety of wine because I genuinely enjoy the taste, or acquire a degree from a reputable university because I genuinely appreciate what that university has to offer. But my motivation could also be to set myself apart from others, to present myself as more sophisticated or smarter. From merely observing that I consume the product, you could not tell my motivation. But you could tell it by observing how I respond once other people start drinking the same wine, or attending the same university.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:22 AM on May 14 [111 favorites]


This.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 11:31 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


So, positional good=dramatic attention seeker? You've just described most of my relatives (including one rabid vegetarian).
posted by sockerpup at 11:31 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


God, a low FODMAP diet is 100x worse than a low gluten diet!

Actually, I would much rather have people believe that gluten is the root of all evil than that FODMAP is/are...as soon as this research becomes better known, I am sure to have four or five friends who have decided that the FODMAP diet is for them, and that they are now avoiding stone fruits, cauliflower, onions, chocolate, apples, lentils, etc, while still being vegan and avoiding soy. And I do NOT know what the hell I will cook for them. We'll pretty much be down to leaf vegetables, nuts and quinoa (rice is no longer recommended because it's full of arsenic). And I'm sure that no one will want to go back to eating gluten, even if they do switch over to FODMAP, so that's right out too.

(Weirdly, very few of my friends eat potatoes - you would think that if you don't eat dairy, gluten or soy, then potatoes and yams would be high on the list.)
posted by Frowner at 11:32 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


(I mean, in fairness, I have a friend with pretty serious health issues who really can't eat most stuff - that does happen.)
posted by Frowner at 11:33 AM on May 14


"Gluten sensitivity" is the kind of thing that would be incredibly susceptible to the placebo effect. The problem is often ill-defined, usually intermittent, and generally can't be measured via external means, and avoiding gluten requires constant effort and some sacrifice (so the person is both constantly reminded of the treatment and somewhat invested in it), and any major change in diet is likely to make a person feel somewhat different (therefore giving them neutral effects they can rationalize as benefits). It would be no surprise to me if the actual problem was something completely different and avoiding gluten was only operating as a placebo.

Although, in this case, I wouldn't blame the people who think they have it; it was a fairly reasonable solution to attempt and the placebo effect is incredibly deceptive, so it would be a really easy conclusion to come to. That's why I tend to suggest to friends and family to be really hesitant before you try to cut random things out of your diet to fix poorly defined or intermittent issues; the placebo effect would be extremely likely, and then you're going to go through the rest of your life avoiding some random food for no reason.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:33 AM on May 14 [6 favorites]


I can't tell you how humiliating it is to try to ask around the question of wheat/gluten in restaurants so as not to appear to be a faddish gluten eschewer. I want to carry my test results with me so I can prove to the wait staff (who here in SF are very accommodating and kind but who probably spit in my food behind my back) that I'm not making it up or doing it to make myself special. I'll be so glad when the fad ends and I can go back to being cautious without looking like a douche.
posted by janey47 at 11:33 AM on May 14 [18 favorites]


You've just described most of my relatives (including one rabid vegetarian).

Eating only vegetables is bad enough, but to eat only the rabid ones!?
posted by axiom at 11:34 AM on May 14 [11 favorites]


I may never cease to be amazed by how much folks care about what other people eat/don't eat.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:34 AM on May 14 [68 favorites]


I'm so old I remember when oat bran was going to save us all. Americans seem to love the notion that a food is either A.) poison, or B.) a medicine.

Fad diets sell books, magazines and niche snack products.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:35 AM on May 14 [16 favorites]


Favorited a million times, Lutoslawski!!
posted by sockerpup at 11:36 AM on May 14


All you smug assholes need to read the fucking article linked.

"Instead, as RCS reported last week, FODMAPS are a far more likely cause of the gastrointestinal problems attributed to gluten intolerance. Jessica Biesiekierski, a gastroenterologist at Monash University and lead author of the study alongside Gibson, noted that when participants consumed the baseline low-FODMAP diet, almost all reported that their symptoms improved!

"Reduction of FODMAPs in their diets uniformly reduced gastrointestinal symptoms and fatigue in the run-in period, after which they were minimally symptomatic."

Coincidentally, some of the largest dietary sources of FODMAPs -- specifically bread products -- are removed when adopting a gluten-free diet, which could explain why the millions of people worldwide who swear by gluten-free diets feel better after going gluten-free."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:37 AM on May 14 [23 favorites]


Lose weight with grapefruit!
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:39 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Living with (and cooking for) my husband, who has Celiac disease, I would say that the effect of eating anything with a small amount of gluten is real and serious

Which is not at odds with the title of "Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity May Not Exist", or any of the findings reported therein. It even states that Celiac is unequivocally a real thing.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:39 AM on May 14 [11 favorites]


When they said that eggs might be a little high in cholesterol, I felt so sorry for the egg industry. Eggs are one of the healthiest things out there, and you're going to shit on that too?! Geez. They still probably haven't recovered completely.
posted by Melismata at 11:41 AM on May 14


Doctors hate this gluten-free bread!
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:42 AM on May 14


My grandma has celiac's and is constantly telling me how much it sucks. I don't know how she restrains herself from slapping people when they tell her "oh, I'm doing a gluten free thing too!"
posted by inertia at 11:43 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I'll be so glad when the fad ends and I can go back to being cautious without looking like a douche.

Personally, I hope the fad keeps going. Mainly because the fad diet has expanded my cooking options and ingredient range considerably — not least because more food manufacturers now include labels for if the product is GF and if it has been processed on facilities that handle wheat. It will be difficult for them to go back to the pre-fad days and I'm pretty thrilled about that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:43 AM on May 14 [15 favorites]


There is a substantial difference between "the people who think they have gluten sensitivity may be having problems due to a slightly different chemical than we thought" and "these people are all making this stuff up for attention." The science here appears to be backing up the first statement, not the second one.
posted by Andrhia at 11:44 AM on May 14 [37 favorites]


Also, n=37.

And everyone in the study got sick.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:45 AM on May 14


All you smug assholes need to read the fucking article linked.

You mean the same paragraphs someone already quoted?

For a lot of people the function seems to be the same whatever you name what you are avoiding. So while accuracy is important, the impact might not be that great.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:46 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


The article seems to be assuming that the overwhelming reason people go gluten-free is GI complaints, and that may be true of the people they studied, but it is definitely not true of, say, the vast legions of Paleo evangelists, where I have seen gluten blamed for headaches, skin complaints, mood swings, asthma, autism, heart disease, and cancer. Not even exaggerating. Not that there aren't also some relatively sensible Paleo people, but it can get very woo, and it's a big thing still. If that GI sensitivity isn't the gluten after all, then it stands to reason all those other things are probably also not the gluten, only there's no particular reason to think they're the FODMAPs, either.
posted by Sequence at 11:49 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


That's the second time that quote has been quoted, but people find being smug feels better than a smug-free diet.

I function better on a low-carb diet. If I indulge in sugar or non-wheat starch I have predictable blood sugar responses. If I cheat with bread or beer - like, a generous serving, not a bite - something dramatic and startling happens in my guts. Gluten? I don't know. Something? Seems like. But gluten-free items are still carby, so it's not something I spend much energy pursuing, though occasionally the route to GF incidentally reduces the carb count.

It does appear that many people seem to feel better on a gluten free diet, even though it may be that gluten itself is a red herring. I'm sorry that that hurts other people so badly.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:51 AM on May 14 [15 favorites]


"I may never cease to be amazed by how much folks care about what other people eat/don't eat."

As monkeys, nothing will ever be more important to us than what other monkeys are putting in their mouths, or rubbing on their crotch areas.
posted by idiopath at 11:55 AM on May 14 [47 favorites]


Everyone in the study got sick, but the article says:

Even in the second experiment, when the placebo diet was identical to the baseline diet, subjects reported a worsening of symptoms! The data clearly indicated that a nocebo effect, the same reaction that prompts some people to get sick from wind turbines and wireless internet, was at work here. Patients reported gastrointestinal distress without any apparent physical cause. Gluten wasn't the culprit; the cause was likely psychological. Participants expected the diets to make them sick, and so they did.
posted by inertia at 11:55 AM on May 14 [8 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: "And everyone in the study got sick."

Well, everyone reported that they felt worse under the treatment diet versus the control FODMAP free diet, even when the treatment diet was the same FODMAP free diet. That does not sound like an argument for 'gluten causes GI discomfort', to say the least.
posted by pwnguin at 11:55 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


As someone who has bumbled through diets trying to find out what's wrong with me, the non-FODMAPs diet has by far worked the best. It's not a solution in and of itself, but it's been a really good place to start.
posted by hanoixan at 11:57 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I've long thought that for most people, a gluten-free diet is a "positional good".

Funny, that's my impression of people who spend a long time thinking about how faddish other people's diets are. The gluten-free skeptic, the anti-vegetarian crusader, or whoever, thrives on the appearance of being that rare mind who knows better.
posted by Beardman at 11:58 AM on May 14 [26 favorites]


In my experience, which is restricted to essentially observing two friends over several years --one who is is diagnosed Celiac and one who is not but believes they have gluten sensitivity-- there is a MASSIVE difference between the two.

The most stunning examples I have seen are when we all go out to eat together. Both friends will ask for gluten-free selections. A few restaurants will prepare their meals using a different production line entirely, in order to reduce cross contamination from the regular gluten-having meals.

Most restaurants don't do this. Gluten-free on their menus is merely lip service to a known demographic, it's not really treated as an accessibility concern.

At the restaurants which do have the safer gluten free process, both friends have a great time. At the other restaurants, the non-Celiac still has a fine time, but the Celiac? There's a good 50% chance he will be in bad shape for the next several hours. It's gotten to the point where he will only eat at a few restaurants, or he simply just won't join us.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:58 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]




I'm so old I remember when oat bran was going to save us all. Americans seem to love the notion that a food is either A.) poison, or B.) a medicine.


Yeeep, and it's reenforced by oh literally very single thing in the culture so even though I know thoughts like "Pizza has bread which will gives you diabetes and then they'll cut off your legs so maybe just stop eating anything." are completely, utterly insane, they still happen and are supported by this idea - it doesn't matter what the actual limiting fad is, it's just a means of asserting some feeling of control.

At least people with Celiac's now have expanded options.
posted by The Whelk at 11:58 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Wow, I'm so confused. I, like many mefites, sneered at the paleo and gluten sensitivity. Then I did a paleo challenge to support some friends at Crossfit, and when I finally buckled down and really did it? Like, no cheats? I felt a Million times better (bellies don't always vaguely hurt?) and my digestion (which I'd been trying to improve with psyllium fiber and several other well-regarded methods) was suddenly Great.

Since then I've gone back to eating wheat probably about one a week, and things like cheese, for lo - bread and cheese are Delicious. And my digestion has gone back to being crappy (heh).

If it's just a FODMAP thing, I'd expect to have done way less well on the paleo diet, because I ate avocados and fruit like it was my job then. If it was just a starches thing, I'd expect to not do as well with corn chips and moderate amounts of rice. WTH?

If I accept this is just a nocebo thing, can I get my happy digestion back? That would be AWESOME (and way better than cutting out bread or avocados!).
posted by ldthomps at 12:02 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


Please don't discount the harm that can come from gluten free being seen as a fad diet. My wife has Celiac and I'm always concerned the server/cook is going to assume "oh here's another asshole on a fad diet" and will not use the correct sauce or will use barley instead of an alternative.

She makes sure to tell them she has Celiac, but I fear there is a lack of understanding as to the difference between not eating gluten and Celiac.

Is this fault of the fad dieters? Not really. Clearly there needs to be more awareness brought about, but this isn't as simple as "why do we keep worrying about what other people do"

sorry for the slight derail.
posted by Twain Device at 12:05 PM on May 14 [12 favorites]


It's amazing to me how many people have popped out of the woodwork to say they are "gluten sensitive". In my area at least there's a certain stereotype of people who have this issue (upper middle class women) and it's created a sort of eye-rolling backlash that is a hindrance to people who have celiac disease (where people barf and stuff if they eat any gluten). My brother tells of corporate pizza lunches where 50% of the pizzas are gluten-free (and thus nasty tasting) and then the GF fadders then barely eat it anyway, leaving a bunch of pizza on one wants. As my brother (a history/archaeology guy) said to me, "What's wrong with people? Bread is what enabled civilization!"

Of course I am *very* sympathetic to people with CD ... and heck, people who just wanna fad how they fad. Oh also cavemen didn't know what the hell they were eating either - I think they were just gnawing on rotten mastodon meat or whatever would keep them alive ...
posted by freecellwizard at 12:07 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


People seem to be forgetting the nocebo/placebo effect isn't just people merely lying about how they feel, something actually does happen to them. I'm concerned that in these studies poison shyness/taste aversion might be a confounding factor.
posted by Brent Parker at 12:10 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


FODMAP-free diet-

Eliminate:

fennel, garlic, leek, onion (all), shallots, spring onion



Fuck you.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:10 PM on May 14 [69 favorites]




Does this mean that we can go back to Wonderbread?
posted by philip-random at 12:19 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I admit I have a hard time believing that nearly every human on earth for the past 10,000 years has been eating a diet which makes them feel like crap. It's possible, I guess, but... I dunno.
posted by Justinian at 12:22 PM on May 14 [15 favorites]


At the other restaurants, the non-Celiac still has a fine time, but the Celiac? There's a good 50% chance he will be in bad shape for the next several hours. It's gotten to the point where he will only eat at a few restaurants, or he simply just won't join us.

Yeah, this is where I'm at with my dairy allergy. It blows. I hate cooking. But it could be worse, I could simply not have food.

Anyway, my allergies are all to animal products (fish, shellfish, dairy) and, although I'm still going to be tested for other stuff, I can happily and safely eat at vegan restaurants. Yay(?)
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:24 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I admit I have a hard time believing that nearly every human on earth for the past 10,000 years has been eating a diet which makes them feel like crap. It's possible, I guess, but... I dunno.

If it makes you feel crappy but also helps you survive and make babies, well, welcome to modern life!
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:24 PM on May 14 [8 favorites]


These non-celiac, gluten-sensitive people are probably also sensitive to ethnic foods because it gives them diarrhea or whatever - so, what can they eat? They can't eat most grain-based food, they can't eat ethnic food ... what are the options? An Atkins-like diet of meat and veggies? So the Atkins people felt bad for being made fun of, so they just kept their diets and became gluten sensitive instead?
posted by ChuckRamone at 12:26 PM on May 14


I admit I have a hard time believing that nearly every human on earth for the past 10,000 years has been eating a diet which makes them feel like crap. It's possible, I guess, but... I dunno.


So my parents are into a bunch of new agey stuff, and lately have gotten on the anti-gluten bandwagon. I think the argument (aside from the folks with CD) is that modern hybrids of wheat have orders of magnitude more gluten than wheat did say, 100 years ago. Because industrial bakers want their bread to come out nice and fluffy.

I'm a little dubious about the whole "gluten is poison!"thing, but it's not hard to imagine that industrial agriculture has tweaked foods we ate for thousands of years and made them less good for us than they used to be.
posted by ambrosia at 12:27 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


If it's just a FODMAP thing, I'd expect to have done way less well on the paleo diet, because I ate avocados and fruit like it was my job then. If it was just a starches thing, I'd expect to not do as well with corn chips and moderate amounts of rice. WTH?

Although low FODMAPs often helps with IBS and similar indigestion problems, sometimes the problem is really one food that is a particular troublemaker for you. It can vary from person to person. And sometimes IBS has non-food causes, like stress.
posted by tofu_crouton at 12:35 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


The FODMAP diet, by the way, is an elimination diet. In order to determine which of the FODMAPs you are sensitive to, the idea is to eliminate all of them for a couple of weeks and then reintroduce them individually for a day or so at a time.

It is not intended to be a blanket restriction on all FODMAPs for life.

If that helps with understanding.
posted by janey47 at 12:36 PM on May 14 [20 favorites]


As monkeys, nothing will ever be more important to us than what other monkeys are putting in their mouths, or rubbing on their crotch areas.

spoiler alert it's gluten
posted by Greg Nog at 12:37 PM on May 14 [22 favorites]


TheWhiteSkull: "Fuck you."

Seriously.
You can pry the garlic from my cold smelly hands.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:37 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I'd be hesitant to start re-assigning gluten-panic to FODMAP-panic. After all, they weren't studying FODMAP, they were studying gluten and, while they made a casual observation about it's possible affects on health, it's a new and untested hypothesis not the answer to their original question.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:39 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I admit I have a hard time believing that nearly every human on earth for the past 10,000 years has been eating a diet which makes them feel like crap. It's possible, I guess, but... I dunno.

I wonder how much of it has to do with our ethnic heritages, and the fact that many of us do not eat foods from the place of our native origin. There was a flap a few years ago about how public schools in the U.S. were serving milk in their lunches, but that the asian students were lactose intolerant. Native Americans have a terrible diabetes problem, because they don't have as much access to their traditional diet. I can barely tolerate even "medium" salsa, and would die if I had to have a traditionally spicy diet such as Mexican. My ancestors are from northern Europe, and that's the diet I like best (meat pies, potatoes). It's what makes me feel the least crappy.
posted by Melismata at 12:40 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


My mother declared she HAD to be gluten intolerant 2 years ago after the "Wheat Belly" author was on either Dr. Oz or The Doctors. She discussed it with her physician who basically said, "Eh, go on the gluten-free diet. See if you feel better." He didn't follow up at all with her, except saying that the Celiac test was a rough one.

So she dumped anything with gluten and felt better for a bit, but really? She has all the same stomach complaints as before, and is down to about 5 meals that she'll actually eat. I want her to slowly reintroduce some foods, but am wary that she'll feel some discomfort and be off of it all forever.

I think I should send this link to Dr. Oz and ask him to just say the headline at his next taping. She'll believe him.
posted by kimberussell at 12:41 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Please don't discount the harm that can come from gluten free being seen as a fad diet. My wife has Celiac and I'm always concerned the server/cook is going to assume "oh here's another asshole on a fad diet" and will not use the correct sauce or will use barley instead of an alternative.

She makes sure to tell them she has Celiac, but I fear there is a lack of understanding as to the difference between not eating gluten and Celiac.


My grandma isn't helping matters by claiming to have "self-diagnosed celiac disease."
posted by Area Man at 12:45 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


If it makes you feel crappy but also helps you survive and make babies, well, welcome to modern life!

My favorite fun fact about koalas is that eucalyptus leaves are really low in nutrition and really high in toxins so no one else eats 'em but koalas just grimly shovel them into their mouths and sleep all the time and get hella grumpy and then make a new generation that repeats the process of just being straight-up miserable because by gum, misery is a viable niche if it doesn't kill you.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:51 PM on May 14 [89 favorites]


You can usually tell if someone actually has celiac disease. They're generally pretty skinny, paranoid, and good cooks.
I'm really glad I don't have it. I have seen the aftermath of inadvertent gluten consumption and it ain't pretty.
posted by domo at 12:56 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I work out at the gym on campus and this semester they offered a weight loss program. It was cheaper than a regular gym membership and included visits with a nutritionist. BTW, yes, I am overweight. My nutritionist has me on a diet that's very similar to paleo without being exact. Also, there was help learning to eat properly. I bet you didn't know that a 5 course meal should last longer than a typical Ramones song? Me either! I have lost weight, I am happier with my eating choices, and while my friends think I'm weird, they always have. Eat what works for you, don't ask permission.
posted by evilDoug at 12:58 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


You can usually tell if someone actually has celiac disease. They're generally pretty skinny, paranoid, and good cooks.

Not really, no. Plenty of people gain weight once they find out they have celiac disease (like me!) because they go from not absorbing any nutrients to absorbing nutrients. I mean, yes paranoid and good cook. But not skinny. Not anymore. (And you know what? I am perfectly happy to trade skinny for not being nutrient starved.)
posted by stoneweaver at 12:58 PM on May 14 [8 favorites]


Heh...this is why I inwardly laugh whenever pinterest board lights up with gluten-free cookies (which only has 2 cups of sugar in it) and how every isle in grocery store has "GLUTEN-FREE!" something. Crap is crap even if it has one less crap in it.

Paleo might or might not be fad but one take-away point for me is this - Our current food system is sick. Be it from fat, sugar, gluten, processed or what have you. There are no shortcuts - buckle down and make your food yourself if you can using simple ingredients. Your body will know what to do once presented with food it knows how to process as opposed to the frankenfood we're so used to.

So...pretty much what Michael Pollan has been saying some years ago.
posted by 7life at 1:05 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


My take away is that digestion is inevitably shitty.
posted by srboisvert at 1:09 PM on May 14 [13 favorites]


In the end, it is.
posted by drlith at 1:11 PM on May 14 [13 favorites]


> These non-celiac, gluten-sensitive people are probably also sensitive to ethnic foods because it gives them diarrhea or whatever

Where are you getting that from? I know a few people who feel healthier when they avoid gluten, and I've never heard them complain about "ethnic" foods.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:26 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


(Weirdly, very few of my friends eat potatoes - you would think that if you don't eat dairy, gluten or soy, then potatoes and yams would be high on the list.)

Potatoes are also (thought to be?) inflammatory! Sweet potatoes are I think considered kosher by all.
posted by kenko at 1:30 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I have a friend with IBS who manages it with a FODMAP diet and it's way more complicated than eating gluten free but she went from being miserably sick all of the time to thriving so clearly worth it.

We have a gluten free household for my son with Celiac disease and as a result I slipped into eating gluten free a few years back. Never got around to getting tested for Celiac and still haven't (you have to eat gluten for the tests to be meaningful). Here's the kicker though - after 35 years of migraines every week or two they stopped when I stopped eating gluten. I get migraines if I I slip up and only then. Do I intend to go back to eating gluten as a result of this study? Hell no. I don't love being looked at like a freaking faddist and my symptoms are quite different than my son's - who has ended up in the ER needing hydration after being glutened. The FODMAP elimination is very complex and requires a deep understanding of the chemistry of a lot of foods so if avoiding gluten solves a problem it's a lot easier than messing around with FODMAPs.
posted by leslies at 1:37 PM on May 14 [11 favorites]


Wait until you all hear about the new hotness of the alkaline diet.
posted by winna at 1:39 PM on May 14


Let me clarify- that was in response to the people who complain about faddist anti-gluten people. The alkaline diet makes the gluten free thing seem reasonable.

But if gluten free makes you feel better, isn't that what's important?
posted by winna at 1:42 PM on May 14


Being a woo faddist I'm going to try out the FODMAP elimination to see if it works. n=1.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:42 PM on May 14



I wonder how much of it has to do with our ethnic heritages, and the fact that many of us do not eat foods from the place of our native origin.

If I tried to eat like my ethnic ancestors all I'd have for dinner is Viking Axe To The Throat.
posted by The Whelk at 1:44 PM on May 14 [12 favorites]


I've seen a lot of weird hostility towards people eating GF lately and I don't get it. Why does anyone care? I mean there are some people who drone on about paleo and such, but they would drone on about anything, wouldn't they?

I am all for MOAR SCIENCE and thinky pieces about what food actually does in our body, because that is interesting, and clearly we know a whole heckuva lot less about food and bodies than we think. Which also means triumphant cries of AHA GF IS A SCAM may be a bit premature, or just not the whole story. Because we are still learning.

Meanwhile, most of the people I know who eat GF but aren't celiac do so for weightloss reasons or because they think it makes them feel better and again, I don't know why I should object to that because HOW DARE THEY REFUSE BREAD or something. No one has ever snatched a roll out of my mouth yelling "Bread is poison!" and so I don't feel obligated to hate on their desire to not have croutons on their salad, or to avoid crackers.

Eat what you want, America. Keep doing science, scientists. Chill out, everyone.
posted by emjaybee at 1:46 PM on May 14 [19 favorites]


I tried the Viking Axe to the Throat diet but it gave me runestones.
posted by perhapses at 1:47 PM on May 14 [26 favorites]


I wonder how much of it has to do with our ethnic heritages, and the fact that many of us do not eat foods from the place of our native origin.*

I have Pork as a major food group on both sides of the family (Czech and Hawaiian), so I'm all good there.

A lot of Hawaiian kids are lactose intolerant, apparently - I didn't end up being one of them, thank god. Did get the shellfish allergy, though.

I do feel better eating less gluten, I think, but that's really more of a side-effect from fewer simple carbs in general.

*NB: Mexico is a big place, and a lot of the regional dishes are not at all spicy, just like a lot of the regional foods in the US are not all burgers or whatever.
posted by rtha at 1:49 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


all food in the US is just some variation on the mozzarella stick anyway
posted by The Whelk at 1:51 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


If I tried to eat like my ethnic ancestors all I'd have for dinner is Viking Axe To The Throat.


Don't worry, half the time that's what my Viking ancestors were eating as well. Especially around Christmas.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:04 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I have a friend with Type 1 diabetes and doctor-confirmed celiac disease. It's pretty rough. She has a horrible time managing her diet, and it's veeery obvious when gluten has made it into her body.

She has mixed opinions on the gluten-free fad and its adherents. On one hand, more food she can eat! On the other, more tricksy crap that's gluten-free in name only, and gets her incredibly sick! Also, a lot of prepackaged gluten-free food doesn't work well with her diabetes.

She is a pretty damned good cook, though.
posted by Coatlicue at 2:06 PM on May 14


ambrosia: "I'm a little dubious about the whole "gluten is poison!"thing, but it's not hard to imagine that industrial agriculture has tweaked foods we ate for thousands of years and made them less good for us than they used to be."

Agreed. Wheat has absolutely been cross-bred to suit the profits of industrial bakers. Some of those tweaks have apparently increased gluten levels, as does the industrial baking process itself (Michael Pollan's book "Cooked" delves into this nicely.) And white flour, beer, and other gluten-containing foods certainly can spike blood sugar, make it harder to lose weight, cause GI unpleasantness, etc. in some people.

If certain foods make you feel bad, then avoid those foods, sure. In my crowd, we'll accommodate food restrictions and preferences like crazy, we'll take them on as a happy challenge to tweak our recipes and/or menus to make sure that everyone feels like there's plenty for them to get excited about eating.

But I'm pretty tired by the insistence from people that they specifically, definitely have gluten insensitivity, self-diagnosed, and that this is a point on which there is no room for questions from oneself or others. It's devolved into "gluten is poison" so quickly (often with full-on retconning) even among my science-devoted friends.
posted by desuetude at 2:08 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


This study may very well be perfectly legitimate and also correct, but as all the little fires about gluten threaten to reach flashover, I've been surprised not to see a lot of pushback before this, because Big Dough's big dough's certain to make itself heard one way or another.
posted by jamjam at 2:09 PM on May 14


Man, I had a coworker with celiac and crohn's, and she had to take all sorts of horrid meds. She'd had part of her intestines removed already, and every so often she'd get a bit of something in her food and it took her out hard. I was actually kind of glad when she quit to go to law school, since it was always so tough seeing her in that much pain. Young, too, she was about 20. So when I see people complaining about their gluten sensitivities, I think back to her and how much worse she had it.
posted by klangklangston at 2:10 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


My mom's allergic to wheat. Like, not a nebulous "sensitivity" but a genuine, matter-of-fact allergy. Not deadly, but like, severe sneezing, watering eyes, running nose, all within a couple minutes. (She's also allergic to corn, penicillin, and deadly-allergic to crustaceans.) So, on the one hand, the gluten-free diet fad has been great for her, because the sudden influx of gluten-free stuff in grocery stores and restaurants has given her a lot more options of stuff she can actually eat.

On the other hand, it's amazing how many people who just don't get it, suddenly think they're experts now - on both sides of the debate. No, gluten-free and wheat-free are not synonymous. No, she can't safely eat anything on your gluten-free menu. At the same time: No, her allergy is not a made up thing. No, she can't even eat "a little" gluten. (And that's without even getting into the corn allergy...corn syrup, now there's a concept so many people don't grok at all.) I've spent a lifetime watching her explain this stuff to waiters and store clerks and A.) she has the patience of a saint about it and B.) yeah most people really have no idea what the ingredients are in the food they eat.
posted by mstokes650 at 2:12 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I've been surprised not to see a lot of pushback before this, because Big Dough's big dough's certain to make itself heard one way or another.

I'm imagining a conference room out at the General Mills HQ building full of executives planning to put the kibosh on gluten intolerance.
posted by Area Man at 2:13 PM on May 14



Meanwhile, most of the people I know who eat GF but aren't celiac do so for weightloss reasons or because they think it makes them feel better and again, I don't know why I should object to that because HOW DARE THEY REFUSE BREAD or something. No one has ever snatched a roll out of my mouth yelling "Bread is poison!" and so I don't feel obligated to hate on their desire to not have croutons on their salad, or to avoid crackers.


For me sometimes it is a little frustrating, because I have to cook really restricted things for people who are not actually allergic but who base their concerns on woo. (My friend who has the medical conditions is a different case and I am glad to cook whatever is needed.) It's frustrating to need to put together a meal that contains no eggs, no dairy, no soy, no wheat (or rye or barley, etc), no processed sugars, no nuts and of course no meat and also take into account the people who hate mushrooms and so on. You think that it would be easy until you realize that you're pretty much down to beans for protein and those can't come from a can because of the whatever it is in the can lining (luckily no low-carbers in this group) and anything that you might normally use like sriracha probably has sugar in it, and a surprising number of things contain soy lecithin which is right out, and then there's the stuff with surprise honey. And of course you can't fall back on pasta because of the wheat. It's not that I can't cook meals this way, it's just that they're fussier and more expensive (no tofu and no mock duck, for instance) and take a lot more time. I'd mind a lot less if it were based on real things instead of a general distrust of "western science", or even based on "I feel sick when I eat [tofu]" rather than "we know that soy is bad because of this article we read on the internet, which we trust 100% even though we distrust every single peer-reviewed study out there".
posted by Frowner at 2:13 PM on May 14 [14 favorites]


If you don't want to try full FODMAP, you might try eliminating just fructose (or even just HFCS) at first and see if it helps at all. For me, it was a night and day difference. Plus, once I wasn't eating fructose all the damn time, the more innocuous stuff (like avocados and bread) stopped bothering me much at all unless I really went to town on them all at once. YMMV!
posted by dialetheia at 2:13 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


If only we had listened about the dangers of wheat

And wheat by-products.
posted by The Whelk at 2:13 PM on May 14 [11 favorites]


Oh, and it's not appropriate to cook quinoa because quinoa imports destabilize the Bolivian economy, etc.
posted by Frowner at 2:14 PM on May 14


every isle in grocery store has "GLUTEN-FREE!" something. Crap is crap even if it has one less crap in it.

You're talking about items with gluten substitutes, but there are a lot of products out there that use wheat in trace amounts - thickener, or to make a seasoning stick just right - which can cause a celiac crash, but used to be mentioned only in the fine print if at all. It's great that those things are marked now, and it's fine for a manufacturer to do cost-benefit analyses on continuing to use it versus something else and carry a GF label.

Why do you need to be dismissive about that? How is it hurting you?
posted by Lyn Never at 2:15 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


I've seen a lot of weird hostility towards people eating GF lately and I don't get it. Why does anyone care? I mean there are some people who drone on about paleo and such, but they would drone on about anything, wouldn't they?

I used to not understand this until recently when people were talking about how easy it is to eat dairy free + gluten free, on askme, and I was like OMFG IT IS NOT EASY IF YOU TAKE IT AT ALL SERIOUSLY I HATE EVERYTHING

I'm not sure why it suddenly started bothering me. Maybe jealousy? In my case that's definitely part of it. I'd love to not really need to not eat dairy. It would be really awesome to just order Thai food or whatever and not worry about fish sauce. But them's the breaks.

Well, and that I hate telling waiters that I can't have dairy, but that's not really anyone's fault.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:16 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Frowner, have you considered telling your friends to STFU? They sound really awful.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:16 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


Does this mean they're going to put gluten back into my "GLUTEN FREE!" apple juice, beef jerky, and salt?
posted by pashdown at 2:25 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


Frowner, have you considered telling your friends to STFU? They sound really awful.

They are, in many respects, delightful people. And I wouldn't need to cook for them if I didn't want to, and it's true that I have discovered a bunch of really tasty new recipes (ask me about maple caramel corn! Or popped amaranth bars with apricots and sesame seeds!) and it's true that I feel a lot more food guilt than I really need to...I've definitely noticed that because the culture of the group is "soy is bad, canned beans are bad, gluten is bad" I have started to drop those foods out of my regular diet or feel guilty when I eat them. I've had several "fuck this, I'm just going to eat eggs because it's easy" lapses lately, and a lot of it has to do with creeping food guilt - I need to push myself to buy tofu or mock duck now because they're "bad" foods in my head, and then I don't have anything with protein at home, and then I eat eggs.

So basically, it's my fault, is what I'm saying.

Also, I'm the odd one out because I believe that peer-reviewed, replicable research results from research done on public funds are - though not perfect and certainly not always correct - not wrong on the face of it. I feel really bourgeois in conversation with this particular set, because I'm like "I have a job so I can have health insurance because I want to be able to take my migraine meds and have access to high-level optical care" and that is really, in this social setting, a worldview so tragic, corrupt and misguided that there's really nothing they can respond with.
posted by Frowner at 2:25 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


Generally, you feel better when you restrict your diet from a lot of premade food and cook more at home. Almost every fad food allergy has caused people to do that. In fact, many diets cause people to do that.

So, yeah.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:32 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


I wonder at what point this just becomes orthorexia and control issues.
posted by The Whelk at 2:39 PM on May 14 [16 favorites]


The only thing resembling a food problem I've got is that a couple of brassica vegetables give me super-bad indigestion, so I come to this from more of a friend-of-and-host-to place.

And boy, I hear everyone about how the faddishness of the GF diet has made things complicated. I have a friend who doesn't have celiac, but instead she has fibromyalgia (among a few other things) and was trying a gluten-free diet for a while because she'd read some promising studies that that would help. And it's opened my eyes to the issue on a lot of interesting levels,

Once when we were all out to dinner, she had to ask about whether certain things were gluten-free, and the waiter chirped back that yep, the ribs were, and there was no bread, so that should be fine. "How about the viniagrette on the salad, though?" she had to ask. "Does that have mustard? Because if it does, that's not gluten-free." The waiter, totally surprised, said he'd have to go ask - and the rest of us were sitting there mouths hanging open and asking "wait, gluten's in MUSTARD?" It underscored just how complicated this was - not like just leaving out bread.

Sometimes she also talked about how her family wasn't really all that supportive, and trying to get her to have just a little bit of [bread/cookie/cake/pie] because "what's the big deal". The big deal was her health, thank you, and yes, a little bit may have indeed made a difference. That's exactly what she was trying to figure out. She was also really frustrated that she had to keep explaining that no, this wasn't a fad diet thing, but it wasn't celiac either.

It was the non-supportiveness that blew me away, because - dammit, if this is what someone you care about needs, why not do it? I actually know her boyfriend better than I know her, and he and I had a couple talks about how he was coping with it - he was totally on board with joining her ON her diet at home. (A heartbreak for him, because he likes to bake.) In fact, they're kind of like my role model for "how a couple should behave when one of them has a weird diet issue" - he was telling her "of course I'll learn how to cook with gluten-free flour for you because this is your health and I love you and I want what you eat to be good for you", and she was telling him "Oh, go ahead and have bread now and then if you want, because I love you and I want you to enjoy your damn food already".

And that's why my reaction as host whenever they come visit has always been "of course I'm going to cater to the gluten-free issue because I love you both and you are my guests and I want everyone to be able to enjoy themselves." When I heard that she was trying a gluten-free diet, my response was to start saving recipes for things that just would have been gluten-free all on their own anyway; there are plenty of dishes, desserts even, that are gluten-free without being "the gluten-free version" of something. (at dinner parties, guests are just as thrilled with ice cream, pudding, or really great fruit as a dessert as they'd be if you served cake.)

So yeah, some people may not have celiac disease, but this is still a thing, and everyone working together can make things a little easier for everyone all around. ....My friend has slacked off on the gluten-free thing as she didn't notice much impact, but the couple still does try to eat less gluten anyway because she did feel a bit better. And we've all since discovered this gluten-free chocolate cake recipe involving sweet potato which was good enough to satisfy non-gf people, especially when you spread nutella on it; so now them coming over for dinner is more "yay an excuse to make the sweet potato cake" than it is a challenge.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:42 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


Wait, CHOCOLATE is one of the FODMAPS? I was willing to contemplate this trial diet, despite feeling like artichokes, asparagus, and avocados are almost as essential to living as garlic. But CHOCOLATE?

(I know, I gave it up for the paleo challenge, I could give it up for a 6 week FODMAP trial. But!)
posted by ldthomps at 3:06 PM on May 14


Sequence: "The article seems to be assuming that the overwhelming reason people go gluten-free is GI complaints, and that may be true of the people they studied, but it is definitely not true of, say, the vast legions of Paleo evangelists, where I have seen gluten blamed for headaches, skin complaints, mood swings, asthma, autism, heart disease, and cancer. Not even exaggerating. Not that there aren't also some relatively sensible Paleo people, but it can get very woo, and it's a big thing still. If that GI sensitivity isn't the gluten after all, then it stands to reason all those other things are probably also not the gluten, only there's no particular reason to think they're the FODMAPs, either."

So, exactly what DOESN'T cause autism any more please?
posted by Samizdata at 3:09 PM on May 14


I've tested negative on the celiac antibodies screen (twice, because I couldn't convince a doc I had already had the screen 4 years ago and it didn't make sense to do it again). I don't have any of the horrible GI complaints that lead folks to conclude they are "gluten sensitive."

I've tried going gluten free a few times (it's sometimes recommended for some autoimmune disorders), and the only real effects I've noticed are 1) my skin clears up beautifully; and 2) I get violently ill with short-term GI symptoms the very first time I eat gluten again.

It makes sense to me that reintroducing a food I've stopped for 2-3 months will initially shock the system--and it also makes me wonder if this "false positive" is what convinces many others (who otherwise don't have any of the typical GI markers, much less a positive celiac screen) they are honest to god gluten sensitive.
posted by blue suede stockings at 3:19 PM on May 14


You know, people, heroin and uranium are both gluten free.

Just sayin'.
posted by Samizdata at 3:21 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


Please everybody knows uranium is just homeopathy and largely discredited.
posted by The Whelk at 3:23 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I may also be cranky because my husband had giant hives that the doctors couldn't explain for six effing months and it turned out to be a vitamin A overdose from pumpkin seed extract he was taking that the doctors completely missed despite him telling them what he was taking. I'm not sure if I should blame that on woo (from people who said pumpkin seed extract=good for digestion) or doctors (who never bothered to think about that stuff).

Have you ever seen giant body-covering hives? That will rid you of any "allergies are just something people exaggerate" ideas pretty fucking quick.

Even once the husband's thyroid was diagnosed, he still had problems with wheat, soy, eggs and dairy making him feel like crap. It's possible he is being overcautious in always avoiding all of those, but after the hives and upper and lower GI scans and various drugs/supplements and a possible diagnosis of an immune deficiency, it's just easier to avoid them than to try to glean anything from whatever study has been done that's maybe helpful, maybe not.

I will admit to being one of those people who got exasperated when I tried to make something for someone but missed one of their allergies or was unaware that the thing I made actually contained a hidden allergen. I mean it sucks, you worked hard on something and now someone won't eat it. It makes you a little mad, and you start to wonder if they're just looking for attention/faking it/using woo. But then I got a front-row seat to what it's like, so I have had to let go of that.

What the husband does is give someone either a very specific recipe he knows will work for an entree or side dish, or brings an entree or side dish he made, or brings premade sandwiches, to ensure he can eat something. He's really more gracious about it than I would be, I think. People laugh when he pulls sandwiches out of his pants pockets, but that's his life now; he eats ahead and carries snacks or meals with him.
posted by emjaybee at 3:26 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I did Paleo last year and found that when I added wheat products back to my diet, my skin started to get really itchy. A few years prior, I had gone to the dermatologist and asked what was going on with my mysteriously itchy skin and he was basically shruggo.

So when the itching started again I talked to my mom (who is a doctor) and my doctor who both said if I noticed a sensitivity I shouldn't eat it, so I don't eat wheat anymore, and when I do I notice the itching starting up again. It's like a door I can't close. I probably had low grade itching constantly because I was constantly hitting my system with wheat.

People are so rude about it, like telling me to "just eat the pizza" or sandwich or whatever. It's really weird. I also have raw food allergies that are kind of annoying when sharing dishes, and no one's ever heard of it usually (oral alllergy syndrome, related to pollen allergies) but no one makes a huge deal about it like the gluten/wheat thing. If something has a small amount of gluten it's pretty OK, but a slice of pizza or sandwich bread is out.

I dunno, maybe it is psychological, but then why would I have had the itching before gluten even became a thing? And also I never cared about the faddishness of gluten free, i just did Paleo because it made me eat less sugar and I slept better.

Seriously I think people just give other people a hard time about this stuff because they see it as some secret judgement like oh people just think they're special or we're saying you don't have self control, or whatever.

I kind of pretend like I'm so sad about pizza or pasta or whatever because it seems to be required so that people can feel superior because they can be like "I would just deal with whatever happens if I had that sensitivity because PASTA IS SO GOOD." Like, really, I think pasta is good but it's not better than being uncomfortable and exposing my body to something it clearly does not want.

People who are all "gluten free people are ASSHOLES/annoying/whatever," you kind of make things suck and make meals with friends or just talking about food generally really stressful and I don't get why it's so important to you. I don't ask anyone to make anything special for me. If we order pizza at work I just go get my own thing somewhere else. Just...why is it such a big deal to you? I seriously do not care what other people eat.
posted by sweetkid at 3:29 PM on May 14 [17 favorites]


I guess I'll have to shelve my idea for Gluten Sauce now that that the fad will be over.
posted by Big_B at 3:31 PM on May 14


eucalyptus leaves are really low in nutrition… by gum

I see what you did there.
posted by grouse at 3:32 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Wait until you all hear about the new hotness of the alkaline diet.

For just a fraction of a second, my mind actually thought this was about people eating batteries to get thin. Still, these days I wouldn't be surprised if a battery diet actually existed at some point in the past. "Just pop a couple of AA batteries in the morning for breakfast, enjoy a D cell for lunch, and have a sensible dinner, and soon you'll be shocked at how much energy you have!"
posted by chambers at 3:36 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


There is a huge different between faddish pickiness and "no if I eat this I will break out into horrifying hives and possibly die." I take people at thier word if they say they cant eat a thing, cause food allergies are on the rise, so it's annoying when faddish diet types make it seem like a personal, morally superior choice and not like, a medical necessity.

Also food is one of those universal mammal bonding things, people get VERY IRRATIOONALLY UPSET if you upset THIER food sharing ritual in any way even if you have to cause you will die otherwise. They think you're judging them. It's very, deeply strange.
posted by The Whelk at 3:37 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


"So, exactly what DOESN'T cause autism any more please?"

Otter pops.
posted by klangklangston at 3:45 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


They think you're judging them.

That's what I think. But the thing is it's not like I'm trying to bring it up, it just comes up because I can't go to the pizza place, or I can't have the cookies, or whatever and then I have to explain why, and then people are like, oh is it celiac, and then I'm like no, it's this itching, and and and.

But often it's like even before I get to the itching people are like OMG YOU SAID YOU DON'T EAT PIZZA BECAUSE OF THE WHEAT YOU ARE A SHEEPLE CLEARLY.

Like at first I thought I would just ignore it, then over Christmas everyone was giving out cookies and cupcakes and stuff and dinner parties had cakes and it got so ridiculous and uncomfortably itchy that I gave a huge pile of stuff coworkers had given me away because I couldn't take it any more.

It just like makes me want to tell pale people they're silly for wearing sunscreen because I don't burn as quickly as they do, and I could NEVER give up the SUN omg I'd just STAY BURNED because SUN IS LIFE.

I mean, imperfect analogy, but although I kind of get why people are such jerks about it, I don't really. I'm not an evangelist for anything, I just don't want to have crazy itchy skin.
posted by sweetkid at 3:46 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


"People who are all "gluten free people are ASSHOLES/annoying/whatever," you kind of make things suck and make meals with friends or just talking about food generally really stressful and I don't get why it's so important to you. I don't ask anyone to make anything special for me. If we order pizza at work I just go get my own thing somewhere else. Just...why is it such a big deal to you? I seriously do not care what other people eat."

Because my facebook feed gets sweeps of the "GLUTEN IS POISON!" and woo-based "paleo" nonsense from time to time, and it's superstitious bullshit from most of them, based on the same moral purity impulse that leads conservatives to thing that gay sex is filthy and perverting (if you believe Jonathan Haidt).
posted by klangklangston at 3:50 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


based on the same moral purity impulse that leads conservatives to thing that gay sex is filthy and perverting

Ok but I've made clear that's not the case for me. I'm just saying maybe people could be a little more thoughtful before tearing people apart for their food choices, even if some people are proselytizing about GLUTEN IS POISON or whatever. Maybe they have their own reasons - maybe they don't want to tell you that it makes their skin itchy or whatever, they just want to say they don't eat it and that's all. Who are you to decide what's right for someone else? How much proof of a medical condition do people need?
posted by sweetkid at 3:54 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I've seen a lot of weird hostility towards people eating GF lately and I don't get it. Why does anyone care?

I've been debating posting this for like an hour, but the question's been asked multiple times, so whatever, here goes. I'm one of those people who is, frankly, super hostile towards gluten-free people. especially those who've self-diagnosed themselves with "intolerance".

I care because I have food allergies that are fatal. Not like ow, my poor tummy hurts and I've got the squirts, but oh, hey, if I don't use multiple epipens, right now, at $100 a pop, I'm going to be dead within an hour. Epipen use should always be followed by a trip to the ER, which is a thing that I have to ignore because I have no insurance and cannot afford to go to the ER every time I have an epipen-requiring allergic reaction. (The following things kill me dead and always require epipens: peanuts, nuts, pine nuts, pineapple, shellfish, lychee. Non-shellfish seafood gives me body-covering hives, which only require an epipen if they start to spread to my mouth/throat. Additionally, I'm lactose intolerant, which means ow, my belly, and also pooping forever. I eat lactose without complaining when someone's serving it, though, because ow my belly and twelve hours of diarrhea are not, comparatively, a big fucking deal.)

My ability to manage my allergies has been almost completely shot by self-diagnosed "gluten intolerant" people, because so many people are now convinced that the worst-case scenario for allergies is stomach discomfort and diarrhea. So I get shit like "Oh, it's totally safe for you, there's only a tiny bit..." And I get things like "You can have a little bit, it won't be that bad!" And I get things like "no, no, everything's safe here, it's gluten free and everything!" which is a great metric for people who are gluten free, but is totally useless to me. (A shocking number of people, even when explicitly asked about other allergens, just stare blankly. Huh? You mean there are OTHER allergens?) In the last month, I've run into three instances "Hey, look at the great vegan, allergen-free, gluten-free restaurant/bakery/whatever where everyone can definitely eat!" And in that restaurant, I can eat zero things, because apparently nuts are no longer considered an allergen by many people. It makes me ragingly furious that there's this huge movement to accommodate gluten free people, while I've had restaurants refuse to serve me when I asked them to tell me if I was ordering anything with pineapple or nuts in it because I'm allergic and it could kill me.

And I'm angry that I have to add "AND IT COULD KILL ME" to every statement of allergies, and that even that isn't enough to get people to take it seriously half the time. I'm angry that in every workplace I've ever had, I've been allergy-triggered by someone else's laziness, stupidity, or unwillingness to believe that unlike their self-diagnosed intolerance to whatever, my allergies will actually kill me. Yes, you, eating peanuts while you go around to get people to sign a card with the special sharpie you bought? Thanks for that. Yes, you, bringing in cookies and labelling them allergen free when they do, in fact, contain fucking peanut butter? Thanks for that, too! I've seriously thought about starting to send people bills. The punch you made that definitely doesn't have any pineapple in it--that was two epipens and a trip to the ER, so THANKS FOR THAT.

I get that people just ~feel better~ or whatever, but, the overwhelming visibility of and willingness to cater to gluten free people has made my life significantly more difficult than it was a decade ago. As a bonus, eating gluten free is often presented as a Really Morally Superior Choice (see also: vegans), and people talk about it endlessly.

And, frankly, I privilege my ability to eat food made by someone else, basically ever, without dying over someone else's right to eat food made by someone else without stomach distress. I have friends and loved ones who are gluten free, including some who have explicitly self-diagnosed with gluten intolerance, and I still love them and all, but it's really hard for me to be sympathetic, especially when they're going on about how haaaaard it is, etc. Their worst-case scenario is a couple days of feeling sick. My worst-case scenario is death.

So yeah, I'm kinda hostile. I don't think, though, that I'm unreasonably hostile.
posted by MeghanC at 3:55 PM on May 14 [33 favorites]


People are so rude about it, like telling me to "just eat the pizza" or sandwich or whatever.

omg yes, this. People can be so incredibly condescendingly rude and pompous about any sort of food related stuff and it goes back to my mom who would go all passive aggressive if I wouldn't eat dessert AND THEN go on to make snide comments about my weight! It's positively crazymaking.

So, TMI but my husband's demonstrably reactive IBS/Crohn's symptoms (seriously, folks, nasty lower gut bleed and instant double-you-over death cramping & diarrhea after eating a couple bites of pasta) are not a nocebo effect and his doctor is the one who made that assessment.

and it's not even like we're all evangelical or weird or attention-seeking - especially considering we're in Boulder which is pretty much ground zero for raging entitled foodie special snowflake syndrome - long ago we made a hard-and-fast agreement with our friend set that any parties or group meals would have to be potlucks because attempting to accommodate everyone? No freaking way, man, you'd go insane in the attempt.

We cook most of our own stuff, eat out very rarely, and only eat at places we know take GF seriously but we don't proselytize either because geez, why would you even do that - it's every bit as bad as being a dismissive asshole about people's food choices.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:56 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


I have to say, as someone old enough to have grown up around the legendary mystery of peptic ulcers, the fact that the vast majority are now known to be caused by a bacteria is still hard and weird for me to internalize. Would that Celiac/GF disorders enjoy a similar future.
posted by rhizome at 3:58 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


A notarized document from a doctor, along with a brief questionnaire that establishes they've read the relevant medical literature.

More seriously, I've been vegetarian my whole life and I've dealt with pushy, judgey food folks. But I'll be the first to say that most people claiming that they can't eat meat in general because of vaguely defined food sensitivities are delusional, suffering from the same sort of pains that wireless routers cause. I'm entirely comfortable playing those odds. Likewise, if someone has a specific complaint (e.g. Crohn's, or celiac, or IBS), then no big deal. But if they start off on how gluten-free is healthier because of hunter-gatherers and autism, I'll think they're an idiot who doesn't know what they're talking about.
posted by klangklangston at 4:02 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]



So yeah, I'm kinda hostile. I don't think, though, that I'm unreasonably hostile.


I kind of don't even know what to say to this. Maybe people around you seem to think allergies are reduced to stomach pains or whatever because of gluten free, but I know people whose kids have really severe peanut allergies and other things and it's serious. My throat started to close once because I was eating a raw carrot. People sneak carrots into things all the time and it's really annoying because they make my throat swell up. So other people have it bad too, although yeah your allergies are really severe.

it's really hard for me to be sympathetic, especially when they're going on about how haaaaard it is

how do you know? maybe it is hard. Maybe there is something going on when they eat gluten that is improved when they don't, and maybe they don't know exactly if it's the wheat or the sugar or the what, but it works for them? Maybe they have talked to a doctor about it and didn't want to tell you for whatever reason? I mean I don't know, I probably wouldn't want to even have a meal with someone who feels the way you do, lest my bringing up that I don't want to eat something with gluten in it sends you into this super hostile rant. It's probably easier to just decline the invitation rather than try to prove my qualifications that I'm allowed to say I can't eat it and it doesn't mean I'm into woo.
posted by sweetkid at 4:09 PM on May 14 [11 favorites]


I don't think, though, that I'm unreasonably hostile.

I'd have an easier time agreeing with you if you'd demonstrated some actual harm to yourself from, what, other people having allergies that aren't immediately fatal? Some people thinking that not all allergies are fatal, maybe? Are only people with fatal allergies allowed to manage their quality of life?

Even after reading your comment multiple times, I don't understand the actual harm to you other than people having misconceptions about allergies, which happened before the gluten thing and will still happen after it passes.
posted by dialetheia at 4:14 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I think the main issue is that people conflate terminology and are generally very ignorant about the clinical specificity of terms like allergy/sensitivity/intolerance.

n.b. I work in the pharma industry so I've had the proper terminology beaten into my head by clinicians and doctors for years.

My husband is gluten SENSITIVE. He gets gut bleed on consumption, along with a host of other nasty symptoms. Not acutely lethal, no, but chronic anemia and creeping malnutrition from lower GI malabsorption is no one's idea of great quality of life.

I am lactose INTOLERANT. I drink milk or eat ice cream and fifteen minutes later I puke. I certainly may wish I were dead for a couple hours, but this won't kill me.

MeghanC is ALLERGIC to a number of foods, which trigger a histamine response that failure to alleviate can lead directly to airway blockage and death. This is why people need to STOP using "allergic/allergy" when that is not what they mean.

If people would just fucking learn the semantics and stop conflating these issues we'd all be a lot healthier and safer.
posted by lonefrontranger at 4:20 PM on May 14 [28 favorites]


Even after reading your comment multiple times, I don't understand the actual harm to you other than people having misconceptions about allergies, which happened before the gluten thing and will still happen after it passes.

I get what MeghannC is trying to say actually. She says that before the gluten-free thing was a thing, your average John Doe didn't stand as much of a chance of meeting someone with a food allergy. The few who did knew that "holy shit someone could die from eating peanuts", but the people who did meet people-with-food-allergies were few and far between.

Now, though, since a lot more people are saying they have "allergies" when it's just GI upset, your average non-allergic person stands a chance of HAVING met someone like that, and so now when meghann says that they have an allergy this other person thinks "oh, right, allergy - that just means they fart a lot, so it's no big deal". And that makes it harder for Meghann to say "no, it's worse than that." And while it is true that there were resistant people before the allergy crazes, the allergy crazes have re-defined what "food allergy" means in the minds of the non-allergic - and makes it even harder to get the non-allergic to take them seriously.

That's why I took pains to switch from referring to my thing as an an "allergy" to an "intolerance," which is probably more accurate. (Actually, I pass it off with more of a joke - "let's just say that a couple hours after I eat brocolli it's really not nice to be in a room with me.").

However, Meghann - I'm also a little discomfited by your dismissal of non-fatal allergies as just "they poop a lot." There are some non-fatal, non-histimine allergies that are somewhat worse than that. I mean, I get your frustration, but I'd still not dismiss those as not being allergies either.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:24 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


Dialetheia, my experience has been that gluten is now perceived as the most common and most damaging "allergen", to the point that thing are routinely labelled "allergen free" despite containing things like nuts or eggs, which are things that are less likely to cause GI distress for a [possibly larger] percentage of people and more likely to kill a smaller percentage of them. The problem is that because so many people are aware of gluten and the evils thereof, it's assumed that it's an accurate description of all allergies, even though gluten intolerance and an actual allergy are not at all the same thing, and one is significantly more severe than the other.
posted by MeghanC at 4:25 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Even after reading your comment multiple times, I don't understand the actual harm to you other than people having misconceptions about allergies, which happened before the gluten thing and will still happen after it passes.

My understanding from also reading her comment was that in a climate of gluten-free woo, people take food allergies way less seriously than they should, which makes her quest to not eat something that kills her way harder.
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:26 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


You're talking about items with gluten substitutes, but there are a lot of products out there that use wheat in trace amounts

My apologies if I sounded dismissive. No - that was not what I was getting at. I understand the value of knowing what's in your food. Bur rather I was irate over the fact that market is quick to capitalize over fads and pay an undue attention over a single "BAD" ingredient and how gullible people can be. To me the spirit of Paleo diet is eating the way humans evolved to eat. Which is, as Michael Pollan said, to eat real food. Now you might argue what 'real' food is but the issue is detracted when people focus on one particular ingredient and by removing it they pat themselves in the back that they've done good.

Just like the time when butter was bad and margarine was the solution. Or when fat was absolute evil and fat-free food popped up all over the place. Never mind that the fix was as bad or worse than the original problem.
posted by 7life at 4:26 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


when people focus on one particular ingredient and by removing it they pat themselves in the back that they've done good.

agreed. the proliferation of things like "paleo" pancakes/cookies/breads just makes me shake my head in disbelief. The whole point of eating "clean" in the first place is to eliminate sugar and processed foods and you're going to go find seven strange and costly ingredients just to make a second rate pile of flapjacks? That's like textbook Missing The Entire Point.
posted by lonefrontranger at 4:30 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


And that makes it harder for Meghann to say "no, it's worse than that."

But does that mean that those people don't have the right to manage their quality of life, even if they aren't going to die from their response? I agree that proper terminology is key but even allergies exist on a spectrum - not all histamine responses lead to death. And regardless, I don't see how the solution is to shame people for wanting to eat certain things and not others.

"allergen free"

Ah - I could see that being quite irritating, although I've never seen that terminology. I can't imagine how that label could possibly be meaningful to anyone ever though, given the incredibly wide range of allergies out there.

people take food allergies way less seriously than they should, which makes her quest to not eat something that kills her way harder.

Again, not sure how this is the fault of people who want to avoid gluten, exactly.

I eat tons of gluten but I don't understand why people want to blame people who want to avoid gluten instead of the actual people screwing things up for you. Why not blame the manufacturer with the misleading advertising or the flippant servers instead of the people who just want to manage their diets?
posted by dialetheia at 4:32 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos, I apologise--I started writing a specifically about people with self-diagnosed gluten intolerance or sensitivities, and it broadened as I went on, but I failed to sufficiently edit my terminology. This is a thing that makes me kinda overwrought in the first place, and I'm still shaken from an especially bad reaction a couple weeks ago, but I probably should've had the self-control not to engage in the first place.
posted by MeghanC at 4:35 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


"I eat tons of gluten but I don't understand why people want to blame people who want to avoid gluten instead of the actual people screwing things up for you. Why not blame the manufacturer with the misleading advertising or the flippant servers instead of the people who just want to manage their diets?"

Because superstitious, faddish woo bullshit is what drives that misleading advertising and flippant serving?

(And I've also seen things listed as allergen-free that included peanuts and SMH)
posted by klangklangston at 4:36 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


people with self-diagnosed gluten intolerance or sensitivities'

What's wrong with that?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:38 PM on May 14


Here is the original study, for those following along at home. Full pdf available in the link.
posted by antinomia at 4:40 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I work with eating disordered patients, both hospitalized and outpatient. Diet restriction is a behaviour that has many etiologies, sometimes overlapping. But people's emotional response to things they put into their mouths and use to make more of themselves (or not) never ceases to amaze me. That the followup research should find such strong psychodynamics surprises me even less.
posted by meehawl at 4:40 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


Because superstitious, faddish woo bullshit is what drives that misleading advertising and flippant serving?

Not shitty FDA regulation of health claims? Poor education about food safety in our restaurants? Poor nutrition education in our schools? It just seems kind of mean-spirited to blame people for choosing to eat or not eat certain foods instead of blaming the massive clusterfuck that is our food system and our hugely dysfunctional culture around eating, which are what lead people to believe that stuff in the first place.
posted by dialetheia at 4:44 PM on May 14 [8 favorites]


people with self-diagnosed gluten intolerance or sensitivities'

What's wrong with that?


I think the shorter list would be "what isn't wrong with self-diagnosis?"
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:56 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Really? People should get a doctor's formal diagnosis if a type of food upsets their stomach?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:07 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Honestly, the proliferation of self-diagnosed gluten sensitive people has been a PITA for me, too. And I have celiac disease. People had never *heard* of gluten previously, and so they were willing to put up with me asking layers and layers of questions. Now, people are all "Yeeeeesssss, I already said it's gluten free!" and I'm like "OK, but I really need to know if it has soy sauce in it. Or barley. Or XYZ" and they're just not willing to take the time because why won't I just believe them? It's also the case that previously I could really be certain that I was safe cross-contamination wise if a waiter took the time to listen to me and communicate with the kitchen. That is no longer the case. Now people are really dismissive and I am likely to get cross contaminated even at restaurants that used to take it a lot more seriously. I have seen this also bleed over into how seriously people take me saying I'm allergic to peanuts.

The language around allergens has definitely expanded to the point that I have to be a lot more strident to get heard. It used to be that you said "peanut allergy" and people flipped out to make sure they didn't send you to the ER. I've found that to be way less true in the last couple years.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:08 PM on May 14 [14 favorites]


I don't think people need to get a formal diagnosis. But if you're going to self-diagnose and not make it horrible for me, here is what I would like:

For you to take it as seriously as if a doctor had diagnosed you. If you are telling people that you're gluten intolerant, but then your salad comes with croutons and you are all "It's fine! I'll just pick them off" it sets the expectation that I will be able to do the same thing. And so when I send a salad back, the kitchen will often just pick the croutons off instead of changing their gloves, making it in a clean bowl, changing their utensils, etc. etc. like I need them to.

So, go forth and self diagnose! But please MEAN IT if you're going to tell wait staff or your friends about it. Or just tell them that you're "avoiding wheat" or "prefer not to eat it" or ANYTHING that doesn't imply that it's a medical condition that will make them take it less seriously when I say it.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:12 PM on May 14 [9 favorites]


Really? People should get a doctor's formal diagnosis if a type of food upsets their stomach?

Why not? it would rule out other things, possibly lead to finding something early, and help education the public on the difference between allergy/intolerance/sensitivity etc.
posted by The Whelk at 5:12 PM on May 14


And that makes it harder for Meghann to say "no, it's worse than that."

But does that mean that those people don't have the right to manage their quality of life, even if they aren't going to die from their response? I agree that proper terminology is key but even allergies exist on a spectrum - not all histamine responses lead to death. And regardless, I don't see how the solution is to shame people for wanting to eat certain things and not others.


Agreed. I think it's really out of line to blame people who avoid certain foods for the proliferation of myths about allergies. Like I said, I have oral allergy syndrome, which is related to pollen allergies and means for me specifically, I can't eat raw carrots, kiwi, peppers, almonds...the list actually goes on for quite a long time. When these things are cooked the protein that causes the reaction breaks down and I'm able to eat the thing. No one screams at me to just eat carrots or kiwi though, because it's not part of this fad that's apparently so annoying and causing the deaths of people with severe life threatening allergies.

I definitely think the myths about allergies being made up or not that bad were around long before the gluten thing. It was sort of an amazing, wonderful, mindblowing thing to learn about the oral allergy syndrome because I knew what foods to avoid, and it equally felt really good to connect gluten to my itching, because now it means I don't have that symptom like at all. It's amazing.

But it's really stressful to deal with people in real life who have attitudes like some people here, that I don't really have a problem, I'm responsible for proliferation of allergy myths, I need to prove just how much I know about chemistry and biology and modern allergy study etc. Personally I'd rather just not discuss why I'm not eating something, but people demand explanations for this gluten thing. It's really uncomfortable and feels very invasive.
posted by sweetkid at 5:13 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


(which more people could do if Healthcare and medical education wasn't surreal in the US)
posted by The Whelk at 5:13 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


If we order pizza at work I just go get my own thing somewhere else. Just...why is it such a big deal to you? I seriously do not care what other people eat.

I'm not trying to get you to change your diet at all and just trying to explain, but I can imagine why some would be a little taken aback. Food and the sharing of it is a really big cross-cultural/bonding activity that happens. Y'know, "breaking bread" is referenced in the Bible, and "family style" servings are integral to the experience of some types of cuisine. And I think related to food and judgement, the restriction or rejection of certain foods are a small (but constant, since we eat 3 or more times a day) way that indicate a separation between religions or classes or groups of people.
posted by FJT at 5:19 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


I don't think people need to get a formal diagnosis. But if you're going to self-diagnose and not make it horrible for me, here is what I would like:

For you to take it as seriously as if a doctor had diagnosed you. If you are telling people that you're gluten intolerant, but then your salad comes with croutons and you are all "It's fine! I'll just pick them off" it sets the expectation that I will be able to do the same thing. And so when I send a salad back, the kitchen will often just pick the croutons off instead of changing their gloves, making it in a clean bowl, changing their utensils, etc. etc. like I need them to.

So, go forth and self diagnose! But please MEAN IT if you're going to tell wait staff or your friends about it. Or just tell them that you're "avoiding wheat" or "prefer not to eat it" or ANYTHING that doesn't imply that it's a medical condition that will make them take it less seriously when I say it.


This is exactly what I was trying to convey above. Stoneweaver just said it much better than I could. I constantly fear that a lack of awareness at restaurants will cause my wife pain/suffering. Again, I don't blame the "fadders" directly, but I want to spread the message that while it may be a preference for you, it is a literal REQUIREMENT for some people out there.
posted by Twain Device at 5:20 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I don't like pepperoni. I am not allergic to or intolerant to pepperoni. If I didn't like peanuts, I would not go around saying that I had a peanut allergy, because sometimes I do eat a candy bar with nuts in it and I don't want people thinking that's normal for people with peanut allergies. I don't like the taste of pepperoni and it always gives me heartburn. It disagrees with me. That's been enough for people to respect my preferences on the pepperoni subject pretty much my whole life. Nobody has to like wheat products, but you shouldn't be claiming a specific medical reaction to gluten unless you've got some kind of confirmation that you're really having a medical reaction to gluten. My family's been cooking separately for one family member who doesn't care for onions for decades just because that's what you do with people you like, but it's not a medical condition.

I guess I apply the same rule to this for the sake of other people's allergies that I do to things related to my own mental health: if you're pretty sure you have a panic disorder, that's fine, but I would want you to then be sure that you weren't blowing that off like panic attacks were no big deal. It's okay to just say you're a bit nervous. It's okay to say you're a bit fussy about something instead of "kind of OCD". And it's okay to say that wheat flour, say, doesn't sit well, rather than telling people you have a specific gluten reaction.
posted by Sequence at 5:21 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


"because it's not part of this fad that's apparently so annoying and causing the deaths of people with severe life threatening allergies. "

Come on.

You've repeatedly made this not about the broader study, which shows that most of the gluten sensitivities are psychosomatic, but about you and how your diet is totally justified. And now you've roped us all into persecuting you while you're dismissive of other people's life-threatening diet concerns?

One of those helpful mantras that apply to so many of the generalizations here: "If it's not about you, then it's not about you." If you've got a real thing going on, fine. That's not what the article is about. But you asked a question and got a response that you didn't like, and now you want to be snarky and wounded about it, and it's just …why?
posted by klangklangston at 5:21 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


"Not shitty FDA regulation of health claims? Poor education about food safety in our restaurants? Poor nutrition education in our schools? It just seems kind of mean-spirited to blame people for choosing to eat or not eat certain foods instead of blaming the massive clusterfuck that is our food system and our hugely dysfunctional culture around eating, which are what lead people to believe that stuff in the first place."

Why choose? Why can't we blame that and still recognize that five years ago, a lot of the specific complaints about glutinous woo weren't widespread enough to have the negative effect that folks like Meghan are describing?
posted by klangklangston at 5:26 PM on May 14


Guys, Meghann's apologized and said she was a little shaken from having had a bad near-miss reaction recently, maybe let's back off. I think everyone - including Meghann - is kind of on board with what stoneweaver said, which is that calling something an "intolerance" or a "sensitivity" is different from calling it an "allergy", and that clarifying our terms is the best way to go.

So, maybe that's something we can all get behind. I know I did. (And Meghann - you 'n me are cool.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:26 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


about you and how your diet is totally justified. And now you've roped us all into persecuting you

No, I don't think "all" people in this thread are persecuting me at all.
posted by sweetkid at 5:27 PM on May 14


No one in this thread is persecuting you.
posted by klangklangston at 5:28 PM on May 14


You've repeatedly made this not about the broader study, which shows that most of the gluten sensitivities are psychosomatic

If that is the conclusion you take from this singular study of thirty seven nonrandom people who had their diets drastically changed, then you're set you to believe that.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:29 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


I didn't say anyone was persecuting me. Yeah, I asked why people get so angry about it, but the answer is still pretty crappy, because it's like, "because I'm really sure you're making this up." That mainly seemed to be coming from you klangklangston.
posted by sweetkid at 5:29 PM on May 14


I've seen a lot of weird hostility towards people eating GF lately and I don't get it. Why does anyone care?

Speaking just for myself here - and I say this as someone with a digestive, autoimmune disease (colitis) that comes with dietary issues etc, there reasons are many but include in no particular order:

1) Acting like my disease, that was diagnosed through playing human finger cuffs with me and taking a biopsy, with its orders of magnitude more pain and suffering, and medication, and increased risk of cancer etc etc, is on par with getting gassy.

2) The increased side-eyes I now get, until I pull out the pills I have to chug at every meal and it's established I have a real disease with medicines and doctors and everything.

3) The fact this GF issue seems to correlate, remarkably, with a bourgeois white/westerner demographic.

4) The way many GF people find a way to eat gluten when they really want to/feel like it.

4) The way that some people who want GF seem to use it as a badge of identity, ensuring everybody knows about it and making it other people's problems etc etc. Most people don't know I have colitis, and if there's food that's gonna be a problem - I just don't eat it, I'm not like "STOP THE PARTY, THERE'S NOTHING I CAN EAT HERE, IT'S SO HARD, SOCIETY HATES ME".

I'm not saying this is the right attitude; my reaction is emotional and visceral. Neither am I saying everyone who wants gluten-free is typified by these things, or is making up an illness etc. Nor am I trying to minimise genuine suffering that people have as a result of dietary issues - or ignoring the very weird psychosocial issues at play with food in modern society (I have experienced many of them first hand). But unfortunately the most visible GF people tend to be the most annoying about it. Parallels to evangelist vegetarians, I guess.
posted by smoke at 5:43 PM on May 14 [17 favorites]


Speaking just for myself here - and I say this as someone with a digestive, autoimmune disease (colitis) that comes with dietary issues etc, there reasons are many but include in no particular order:


Yeah, I think all of those make sense. But I think that's more of a problem with people who are disgusted with the fad than people who are caught up in the fad. Except possibly your #4.
posted by sweetkid at 5:46 PM on May 14


Erm, set out to believe that.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:47 PM on May 14


Except possibly your #4.

Both your #4s, in fact!
posted by sweetkid at 5:50 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Both your #4s, in fact!

Whoops! You're right though, the problem is frankly largely mine. I wasn't trying to justify it; just explicate it.
posted by smoke at 5:59 PM on May 14


Just adding a data point here, and a personal, totally non-universal one at that.

My partner claims to be gluten- and dairy-intolerant. And I believe that gluten and dairy do cause some digestive issues for her, because she used to have lots and lots of problems, and now she seems not to, so that's all well and good. But, it's gotten to the point that I don't even want to eat at a restaurant with her. When she orders, she grills the waitperson:

Her: I'm thinking about ordering the _______. Does it have any gluten or dairy?
Waitstaff: It doesn't have gluten, and we can leave the dairy off if you'd like.
Her: Okay, I'll have the ______, but without the dairy. No dairy. And I can't have gluten either. I have a HORRIBLE allergy to dairy and gluten. It's really HORRIBLE, so I can't have gluten or dairy."

She then looks expectantly at the waitperson until they assure her that her dish won't have gluten or dairy in it.

Okay, so it might be worth noting here that "horrible" is pretty much the only negative adjective she knows. ("On my drive home it looked like there was a HORRIBLE thunderstorm up in the mountains." "I saw a HORRIBLE accident today." "You [me] have HORRIBLE asthma.") But still, my discomfort when she's ordering in a restaurant has far surpassed the joys of eating out. People like her are, I'm pretty sure, why restaurants may roll their collective eyes at people who claim to have special dietary needs. Most people could leave it at "I'm allergic to shellfish." When it gets amped up -- and I think it has, with a lot of gluten-free folks, her being one of them -- it gets harder to hear day after day.

Just my $.02, as a person who lives with someone who will buy a product labeled "Gluten-Free" just because it's marketed as gluten-free. (Which is, in my book, making some decision about the nutritiousness of, say, avocados when you come across one with a "cholesterol-free" sticker.)
posted by mudpuppie at 6:00 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


> Have you ever seen giant body-covering hives?

Yes.

also known as "That one time a country doctor might have killed me through steroid withdrawal by not telling me I needed to taper off the prednisone he prescribed while I was traveling."

Bodies are weird. So are brains. And families.

(Multiply compounded family stress was what set off the reaction, I think. Maybe.)

Also, a few years before that, I had one brief, intense massive sudden onset hayfever type response. I blamed it on the cheap beer I had just had (a Schaefer). But, as with the later attack, it was in the spring, so maybe pollen had something to do with it. Who the fuck knows, really?
posted by one weird trick at 6:06 PM on May 14


I'm alarmed that the food police have morphed into the dignity police. I feel better about the world when I stop expecting people to conform with my (admittedly flawed) concept of rationality. I'm not always successful.
posted by sockpup at 6:15 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


I sympathize with the frustration about the sloppiness of vocabulary -- I'm not totally uneducated on these issues and I'd have trouble giving perfect definitions of intolerant vs sensitive vs allergy vs all the other words that get used.

But at the same time, I try hard to remember that for many people food carries a lot of emotional baggage. If eating a certain way, no matter how "woo" that might sound to me and how sloppy their vocabulary might be, makes them feel better, physically or emotionally, then that is an unmitigated good, period, and my feelings on the matter are irrelevant.

Lecturing someone who feels better for eating gluten free is like telling a vegetarian about how much healthier they would be if they ate this nice, tasty cheeseburger. It's not just rude, but actively assholeish.

(The issue of sloppy vocabulary leading to restaurants being casual about keeping track of ingredients is a separate but serious issue, though, and I really feel for the people who have to go through the "No, really, what about XYZ?" dance every time. I can remember a highly allergic friend in college needing to do that twenty years ago and getting uncomprehending stares, though, so maybe it's progress that people know the word "allergy" now, even if they still aren't very clear on the concept.)
posted by Dip Flash at 6:18 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


People like her are, I'm pretty sure, why restaurants may roll their collective eyes at people who claim to have special dietary needs. Most people could leave it at "I'm allergic to shellfish." When it gets amped up -- and I think it has, with a lot of gluten-free folks, her being one of them -- it gets harder to hear day after day.


I totally agree. But sometimes even staff at restaurants aren't that cool about it - once I'd asked about a few things I was allergic to, and they said it wasn't there, but when I got my food I noticed the carrots were layered underneath everything else. I pointed it out to the waiter, who said "ok, you got me!" Like he just thought I wouldn't notice? It was just such an odd thing to do. If he didn't know, just say " I don't know" and I wouldn't order it. But it's inedible to me like that, it's not a game I'm playing.
posted by sweetkid at 6:19 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]



If we order pizza at work I just go get my own thing somewhere else. Just...why is it such a big deal to you? I seriously do not care what other people eat.

I'm not trying to get you to change your diet at all and just trying to explain, but I can imagine why some would be a little taken aback. Food and the sharing of it is a really big cross-cultural/bonding activity that happens.


I get that, but if I were, say, lactose intolerant and didn't want to eat the pizza on those grounds, I think people would be less taken aback.
posted by sweetkid at 6:30 PM on May 14


"If that is the conclusion you take from this singular study of thirty seven nonrandom people who had their diets drastically changed, then you're set you to believe that."

…with better study design than most nutritional studies, from the same authors that previously provided the bulk of the scientific support for notional gluten sensitivity, who reported results that correlate very highly with psychosomatics and not at all with dietary influence. And the "nonrandom" is a canard — these were folks who claimed to have the gluten sensitivity already. Showing that they don't is more significant than showing that a national representative population didn't have these effects — with the added benefit that they could act as their own controls. And even the tertiary claim about stress of the study didn't show a significant impact.

I get the low n complaint, but let's not pretend this isn't a well-designed study that specifically took into account many of the methodological flaws of previous studies. Without any credible mechanism of gluten effect, and this strong study implying nocebo, the burden of proof is back on NCGS to demonstrate its existence.
posted by klangklangston at 6:37 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


This whole cycle of skepticism seems oddly circular: more people claim to be gluten free so people take people who say they're GF less seriously, but then our reaction is to take the people we deem to be faking it even less seriously, rather than demanding that everyone be taken equally seriously. The result is that people with more serious food issues are likely to be treated as if their concerns are not actually serious, even when they are life-threatening.

But doesn't this mean that people who have serious allergy issues are actually more harmed by those who dismiss GF concerns as unworthy of attention, causing others to be unjustly dismissed? That's certainly how I read this part of smoke's comment:

The increased side-eyes I now get, until I pull out the pills I have to chug at every meal and it's established I have a real disease with medicines and doctors and everything.

It might be worth examining the extent to which intensifying that side-eye action is actually going to help people trying to manage more serious dietary restrictions.
posted by dialetheia at 6:38 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


I've had too many conversations with people that have claimed that fructose is poison/the devil/causing the downfall of western civilisation rather than a naturally occurring form of sugar found in fruit. Some of these people have had, or at least claim to have, degrees in nutritional science. Yet apparently have never learned about the ATP cycle. HFCS is a terrible thing of course, but if you throw out the baby with the bath water what do you have left to eat exactly?

It's annoying, because actual people have actual sensitivities and allergies. You know, as noted in this very thread, things that could actually, straight up, for reals, kill them. It's a boy who cried wolf sort of problem - for far too many people there actually is a wolf, but that's drowned out by a cacophony of self diagnosed woo and other rubbish. So people get complacent. And other people, with actual issues suffer. Because apparently foods that have been a staple for thousands of years are now forbidden by the fad of the moment.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 6:43 PM on May 14


Please everybody knows uranium is just homeopathy and largely discredited.

I know you're joking here but they used to sell radium-lined jugs to drink water out of because of the healthful properties of radiation. My middle school science teacher had one that he showed us in our radiation unit, which also sort of doubled as a skepticism and evaluating bullshit unit.

So fad diets could be slightly worse, I guess.
posted by NoraReed at 6:48 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


fructose is poison/the devil/causing the downfall of western civilisation

This is a ridiculous straw man, and as somebody who is rendered incapacitated by eating even small amounts of fructose in isolation*, I find your assertions rather unkind. I have a friend who has histamine reactions to strawberries but I don't lecture her on how strawberries are naturally occurring.

This is exactly what I mean about how treating everyone as if their concerns are stupid and must be made up may actually be more harmful to people with serious dietary issues than people trying to figure out what diet makes them feel best.

*fructose only sits OK for me if it's accompanied by roughly equal quantities of glucose, as it is in most fruits, because the glucose:fructose ratio affects the way it's absorbed in your gut; if I eat something with only fructose, as in most processed foods, it doesn't get absorbed properly and leads to miserably painful bacterial overgrowth that incapacitates me for days and ruins my nutrient absorption. If it goes on long enough, as it did before I realized what was happening, I become anemic. It's not a fatal allergy by a long shot but that doesn't mean that I deserve to have my health and well-being dismissed by a total stranger.
posted by dialetheia at 6:54 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


"I didn't say anyone was persecuting me. Yeah, I asked why people get so angry about it, but the answer is still pretty crappy, because it's like, "because I'm really sure you're making this up." That mainly seemed to be coming from you klangklangston."

And this is why I'm eye-roly. I haven't said anything about you making this up; you asked why people were annoyed and the answer is because most people ARE making this up. That there are people who aren't has been acknowledged pretty much at every step of the game.

Like I said, I'm a lifelong vegetarian, so I'm used to being annoyed both at people who say they're vegetarian but eat fish and people who tell me to just pick off the meat. I've also got a mild dairy allergy (histamine response, actual allergy) on top of a raft of other allergies (dust, pollen, dander, feathers, cats…).

But people are treating the gluten thing like it's trivial and people with gluten allergies are over-reacting or imagining their problems because a lot — maybe even the majority — of people who say that they're suffering from this really do have trivial problems and are over-reacting or imagining their problems. My same coworkers that are all 'bout it 'bout it with the no gluten thing now are the same ones trying to tell me that they get migraines because of chemtrails and GMOs. I do think they're making it up, and I have gotten annoyed at having to order gluten-free pizza for the office just to have it go mostly uneaten and catching those same folks mowing down on Domino's the next week. That doesn't mean it's not totally douchey for the waiter to slip you carrots, and it does frustrate me to realize that people like my former coworker, who has real, violent reactions to gluten, get the same sloppy treatment as every crystal-rubbing anti-vaxxer for whom an accidental crouton doesn't mean hours worth of pain.
posted by klangklangston at 6:54 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


I wonder how much of it has to do with our ethnic heritages, and the fact that many of us do not eat foods from the place of our native origin.

Ironically I am violently allergic - as in explosively puking and pooping blood allergic - to THE staple food of my native origin.
posted by elizardbits at 6:55 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Dorites?
posted by klangklangston at 6:55 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


no they are my precious
posted by elizardbits at 6:55 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]


I was forever happy to see that in Amsterdam, "Cool Ranch" were sold as "Cool American."
posted by klangklangston at 6:58 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


Without any credible mechanism of gluten effect, and this strong study implying nocebo, the burden of proof is back on NCGS to demonstrate its existence.

We have knowledge of how gluten sensitive works at the molecular level. One must be completely ignorant of the current research to claim we don't have any credible knowledge of how gluten sensitivity works.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:58 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


But people are treating the gluten thing like it's trivial and people with gluten allergies are over-reacting or imagining their problems because a lot — maybe even the majority — of people who say that they're suffering from this really do have trivial problems and are over-reacting or imagining their problems. My same coworkers that are all 'bout it 'bout it with the no gluten thing now are the same ones trying to tell me that they get migraines because of chemtrails and GMOs. I do think they're making it up, and I have gotten annoyed at having to order gluten-free pizza for the office just to have it go mostly uneaten and catching those same folks mowing down on Domino's the next week. That doesn't mean it's not totally douchey for the waiter to slip you carrots, and it does frustrate me to realize that people like my former coworker, who has real, violent reactions to gluten, get the same sloppy treatment as every crystal-rubbing anti-vaxxer for whom an accidental crouton doesn't mean hours worth of pain.

Yeah, I get that.
posted by sweetkid at 6:58 PM on May 14


dialethia,

Sorry, that wasn't my intention. I have had people tell me that fructose, just in general, is bad. Because it's sugar. And sugar is bad. Yes it's a straw man, but it's an honest reaction to another strawman.

My point was supposed to be that individual people actually have dietary issues, and the faddish nature of a lot of noise about particular substance in particular foods helps no one, least of all people with actual issues with those substances.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:00 PM on May 14


I guess it gets to me because I'm definitely not imagining it- I just happen to have figured this thing out right when this fad hit its peak - I have no thoughts ever about gluten or wheat being bad in any way and it kind of sucks that when I'm hungry and people are like "let's get a slice" I have to be like, "I'm not hungry" because I don't want to ruin the totally normal plan of getting a slice. Or like when I went to my friend's birthday party which was at a place that serves mini Spanish sandwiches and got mine without the bread and this girl was like "OH COME ON. YOU CAN EAT IT THIS ONE TIME. REALLY? COME ON." On and on until I explained why I didn't want to, which I didn't really want to do at like, a birthday party. I just wanted to eat my breadless meat pile.
posted by sweetkid at 7:04 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


"We have knowledge of how gluten sensitive works at the molecular level. One must be completely ignorant of the current research to claim we don't have any credible knowledge of how gluten sensitivity works."
Although there is some evidence of the effects of gluten in animal models or cancer cell lines,7,9 little else is known about this entity. For example, mechanisms have not been identified and dose dependence has not been demonstrated.
Man, they shoulda had you on lit review, huh?
posted by klangklangston at 7:05 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


And to expand, I've honestly had conversations with people who have stopped eating fruit, and have been trying to convince people that they should also stop eating fruit as well, because fructose. Because they have read a badly researched article that misunderstands the key point that, as you note, fructose in isolation is actually problematic, and goes straight to 'fructose is bad.'
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 7:11 PM on May 14


If we're going to come back around to talking about the paper, the most interesting aspect to me was the extent to which the FODMAP diet improved everyone's symptoms right off the bat. The clear follow-up study is to examine the degree to which people claiming gluten sensitivity are actually sensitive to FODMAPs (likely starting with fructans, since GF diets especially minimize fructans from wheat).
posted by dialetheia at 7:18 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


If you're going to interpret the scientific use of the word mechanism to mean any causal relationship , then I don't know what to tell you. Here's a hint: it's about as specific as 'dose dependence'. The fact of the matter is is that this paper didn't 'disprove' anything, it just failed to clearly show a link between gluten and reported symptoms.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:22 PM on May 14


My ancestors are from northern Europe, and that's the diet I like best (meat pies, potatoes)

Potatoes have only been in Europe for about 500 years. It's hard to imagine Italy without the tomato or England without tea, but a lot of foods thought of as integral to a place have only been recently introduced.
posted by FJT at 7:24 PM on May 14 [11 favorites]


The fact of the matter is is that this paper didn't 'disprove' anything, it just failed to clearly show a link between gluten and reported symptoms.

That's sorta how you disprove things scientifically? By doing a number of well designed studies (like this one) which all fail to show a link.
posted by Justinian at 7:59 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


That would certainly be the method if 'all well designed studies' failed to provide evidence for the existence of gluten sensitivity, but they don't.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:09 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


A lot of people have become terrible bores about their diet and fitness. So, hostility may be some general backlash against that, as much as it is something aimed at alleged gluten-sensitive posers. I wouldn't blame anyone who does actually have an intolerance for feeling hurt by that, either.

I kind of hate everyone now.
posted by thelonius at 8:17 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]


Call me crazy, but when someone tells me they're allergic to something or can't eat it, I reasonably assume that means THEY'RE ALLERGIC AND CAN'T EAT IT OR THEY WILL FUCKING DIE. Why? Because I don't want to be personally responsible for MURDERING SOMEONE if I fuck up on making their food.*

It scares me badly to have to cook for people with food issues. Pretty much because I hate cooking in the first place and I have a very limited repertoire and I really don't know how to nitpick ingredients and know all of the secret code words for "gluten" or "vegan." But you have to humor someone's food issues because you never know who's going to DIE if you fucked up or ignored it or tricked them into eating that. Period.

* says she who has to come up with soy-free dessert this evening, so so much for the cupcakes I was planning.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:44 PM on May 14


Call me crazy, but when someone tells me they're allergic to something or can't eat it, I reasonably assume that means THEY'RE ALLERGIC AND CAN'T EAT IT OR THEY WILL FUCKING DIE. Why?


I don't think that's reasonable. As was said upthread, there are a range of reactions to histamines. My food allergies, for example, mean that if I eat certain raw foods my mouth and throat swell and get scratchy for about 15-30 minutes and it goes away. But like, I can't eat something I'm allergic to in a meal because I'll be having that reaction over and over again the entire time and be really uncomfortable, and nothing helps it but time.

I still think it's reasonable for me to say I can't eat it, even though I won't die.
posted by sweetkid at 8:58 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


There is definitely a world of difference between "I can't eat this thing because of my allergy" and "I can eat this thing, but life will suck for a while because of my allergy".

You can eat those raw foods. You'll be really uncomfortable for a while, but given time it'll go away. That is not what is being suggested when you say that you can't eat them.
posted by kafziel at 9:17 PM on May 14


The response to this in my FB stream has been "of course they're not going to find it, because nobody who has the actual sensitivity would ever do the study". I clicked "hide this post" because life is too short to get into No True Celiac arguments.

(I'm glad I now have better terminology for the foods that make me throw up than "allergic".)
posted by immlass at 9:30 PM on May 14


There is definitely a world of difference between "I can't eat this thing because of my allergy" and "I can eat this thing, but life will suck for a while because of my allergy".

You can eat those raw foods. You'll be really uncomfortable for a while, but given time it'll go away. That is not what is being suggested when you say that you can't eat them.
posted by kafziel at 12:17 AM on May 15 [+] [!]


Wow no. I really can't eat them. It's ok to say you're allergic to something even if it doesn't kill you. This statement approved by my allergist.

I can't eat those foods because of my allergy.
posted by sweetkid at 9:33 PM on May 14 [7 favorites]


Sweetkid is right. It's not the same as FDA "Big 8" food allergies with the risk of anaphylaxis, but denying that it's an allergy is ridiculous.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 10:17 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


The idea that nonfatal allergies are not actually allergies is absolutely ridiculous. And if that's not what people are arguing, then I don't know what they're arguing. Or are we quibbling over the word "can't"? Because "I can't eat X because it will make my life actively unpleasant" is a perfectly cromulent use of the word "can't".

Wheat/gluten/whatever sensitivities/allergies/whatever are too complicated for me to snark at categorically.

It's not like other, much woo-ier, questionable dietary practices, which I get to be all smug about, because they're just black-and-white cases of made-up problems. I would go into specific examples, but it would just be a derail.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:47 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I think the issue is that people with Celiac often have to say that they are allergic to gluten (or, sometimes, wheat) in order for the people preparing their food (or, more often, the people relaying information to these people, so the waitstaff) to know that they can't eat it and also can't have exposure to it, because they can't be guaranteed to know what "Celiac" or "intolerance" means. So the common use of the word "allergy" is a bit blurrier than "something that causes an autoimmune response", so attempts to change the definition to "if I consume this food product it will kill me" sort of make sense but are unlikely to take hold because adding a third definition to something that's already sort of fuzzing outward in meaning is just going to make things more confusing.
posted by NoraReed at 10:56 PM on May 14 [4 favorites]


I've seen a lot of articles about gut bacteria, and the effect that having the "wrong" ones can have on your health generally. I wonder if many food intolerances (not allergies, obviously) will eventually be curable by changing our gut ecosystems?
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:25 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Joe, there is in fact an emerging area of research and treatment around fecal implants
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 1:02 AM on May 15


I am one of the best gluten cooks EVAR. Kosher meaty everything with cream sauces! Vegetarian chimmichurri! Vegetarian Weisswurst! Cheeseburgers! CD sufferers fear me (actually, they don't; I Love cooking just for them, too.)

Most embarrassing food (and the rest of me) allergy: Cannabis. I am contact dermatitis/anaphylactic shock/multiple organ shut-down reactive to the resins/oil/seeds. Brushing against the growing leaves makes welts on my skin. So does using Dr Bronner's hemp-oil soaps. Smoke/vape will cause asthma and lung fluid accumulations for hours or days, even with norepinephrine/epi-pen. A non-believer fed me a "green" brownie once; I was in the hospital on a ventilator for over a week; a lot of my skin peeled off as well as not being able to digest much for a month or so.

But hey, cannabis is the new panacea ("It's medicine! No one's allergic to it!") and trendy cosmetic and food ingredient. Oh joy, it's legal where I live.
posted by Dreidl at 1:45 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I had this thought yesterday, but I think it might not be the gluten in the shitty, over-processed bread that many people eat in the US. that's the issue here. So, when people stop eating their favourite shitty, over-processed bread all of a sudden, they feel better and ipso-facto, Q.E.D.
posted by mikelieman at 2:06 AM on May 15


Most bread that people buy and eat contains horrible ingredients. Subway is patting itself on the back already because it removed azidocarbomide from its bread a couple months ago. Hooray for them *waves small flag*

There are three ingredients in bread: flour, water, salt. (You need a leaven too of course.) The flour should be no more than organic milled wheat. No bleaching, no additives. For leaven or yeast, I think sourdough is best. It doesn't rise quickly but sometimes slow is best.

I recommend people read this short article from the Royal Society of Chemistry. It is a very sober outline of how bread, such a simple food, was remade so that it could suit industry. The process of bread-making is too slow so it had to be speeded up and shelf-life had to be increased. So chemicals were added. And more chemicals. Until, strangely, its not really bread anymore. It didn't taste as good as honest bread. So...even more chemicals are added. It is industrialization gone out of control.
posted by vacapinta at 2:44 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I'm new to the internet, I was wondering if it contains any tips on what I should or shouldn't eat?
posted by colie at 3:02 AM on May 15 [10 favorites]


You know how lactose intolerant people are often addicted to lactose due to the intoxicating effect it has on them? I remember seeing a documentary where a lactose intolerant child drank a bottle of shampoo that contained lactose and went bonkers. The family had carefully kept all food stuffs that contain lactose out of his reach, so he had found another way to get his fix. I don't think he could read, so he must have detected the lactose some other way.
Maybe some of the more vociferous pro 'just eat it' people are actually intolerant and addicted. Which is why they are so cranky and can't understand why anyone could not see their trigger food as essential.
posted by asok at 3:48 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


You know how lactose intolerant people are often addicted to lactose due to the intoxicating effect it has on them?

Er... no?
posted by Sequence at 4:49 AM on May 15 [14 favorites]


I really understand why it could/would/should piss genuinely gluten sensitive people off when someone faddishly claims to have the same thing. I've been a vegetarian over half my life, and I can't tell you how many times I've almost eaten something someone said was vegetarian but had chicken in it, because their sibling/cousin/friend is "vegetarian but they eat chicken/fish/other non-vegetarian food." So all those assholes calling themselves vegetarian when in reality they are anything but makes life harder for actual vegetarians who now have to probe about everything because the definition of vegetarianism has been diluted.

That being said, I never ask anyone to make me food at a gathering. I either eat beforehand, bring food, or eat nothing. My problem shouldn't inconvenience everyone else. So anyone who gets wicked stressed, I get it, but people with genuine problems generally don't get sniffy. They really just want to not worry about whatever their concerns are.

Similarly, when I'm cooking (always veg, I don't cook or handle meat) and someone tells me they have a nut allergy or gluten issues I'll take them into my kitchen and show them everything I used and where it's kept. I've actually learned a lot I didn't know, so it's valuable for me to do it, but even moreso because I understand what a pain in the ass it can be to have issues that make you stand out because you can't just eat whatever is at hand.
posted by nevercalm at 4:51 AM on May 15 [8 favorites]


> There are three ingredients in bread: flour, water, salt. (You need a leaven too of course.) The flour should be no more than organic milled wheat. No bleaching, no additives. For leaven or yeast, I think sourdough is best.

I agree, the flavor is unmatched and keeping a complex ecosystem in a jar is a lot of fun. However, there are plenty of polysyllabic, difficult to pronounce words in sourdough bread (and even plain flour-yeast-water-salt bread). Nothing to be frightened of, of course, but neither are many unfamiliar words.
posted by gilrain at 5:50 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


(While we're on the topic of food and people with restricted diets, I thought I would link this vegan salted caramel corn recipe since I've found it to be a great dessert/party food problem-solver.

I actually make it with maple syrup and soy-free buttery spread, and I boil the syrup to ~260 degrees, which takes 8 - 10 minutes....but I have served this to a great variety of people with a great variety of dietary restrictions, and it is always popular. Also, you can use a vegan sugar syrup made with agave/maple/rice syrup/etc (or a mixture!) to make fruit/nut clusters and bars made with popped grains (like amaranth) or to make a brittle-style candy with nuts, seeds, coconut, toasted oats, etc. It's very adaptable - you can make something tasty for anyone who can eat sugar.)
posted by Frowner at 6:44 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


There are three ingredients in bread: flour, water, salt. (You need a leaven too of course.)

That's too restrictive. I get the point about not putting in all sorts of funky newfangled stuff, but there are traditional breads in a lot of cultures with other ingredients like eggs, milk, etc. I like to make a wild rice and onion bread that is delicious. There are lots of examples of real food ingredients that can be added to bread. (And, as in so many bread discussions, the same is true of beer.)
posted by Area Man at 6:44 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


My ex claimed he had an intolerance for gluten.

I'd just sigh, and make him (as requested) pasta for dinner again. And pancakes for breakfast. He never suffered any GI distress, he just got caught by the fad.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:48 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Sigh. I've been bracing for the Gluten-Free Backlash(TM) for a while now. I just *can't wait* for everyone to tell me it's all been in my head!

While I don't have Celiac disease, I *have* been diagnosed an inflammatory condition called microscopic colitis. I've been dealing with pain, bloating, and near-constant diarrhea for over 10 years. We're not sure what causes it, and the only treatment the docs and I have found that actually works is a gut-targeted steroid that I purchase from abroad because the US cost is around $1200/month, even with insurance.

By eliminating gluten from my diet, I experience far less pain and fewer embarrassing episodes (Unfortunately, I still have diarrhea here and there, because even with the meds, the collagen layer on the lining of my colon is thicker than normal, which inhibits the absorption of water). For this, I am insanely grateful.

Interestingly, I can tell if I've been accidentally "glutened" by the horrific toilet scene that invariably follows.

I usually say I'm "intolerant" or "sensitive," but perhaps I should try to find a better term, because now I'm sure to be dismissed as faddish and/or neurotic. Interestingly, if I choose to respond to badgering with something like "No thanks--if I eat that, I will likely experience excruciating diarrhea, cramping, gas, and bloating, until I lay my head down on my knees while curled up on the toilet and pray for God to strike me dead," then I am accused of being "inappropriate," so I suppose I'll just have to come up with something else.
posted by k_nemesis at 7:40 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I wonder how much of it has to do with our ethnic heritages, and the fact that many of us do not eat foods from the place of our native origin. "

This would be at odds with white people in America having all this gluten sensitivity.
posted by desuetude at 8:13 AM on May 15


My ex claimed he had an intolerance for gluten.

I'd just sigh, and make him (as requested) pasta for dinner again. And pancakes for breakfast. He never suffered any GI distress, he just got caught by the fad.


A friend of mine has been a waiter/bartender a long while. He was complaining recently about customers who would get sniffy about gluten-free food options, but who would then react negatively when he would remind them that their beers would also contain gluten. It was a no-win situation. All of this nonsense was going on at a restaurant with the word "wheat" in the name.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:29 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]



You know how lactose intolerant people are often addicted to lactose due to the intoxicating effect it has on them?


.....wha

I didn't realize that deathfarts and occasional puking and explosive poopwater and hours of pain could all be defined under the umbrella of "intoxicating effects," this is brand new information.
posted by elizardbits at 8:48 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


yea Sticherbeast a couple of my most evangelically pro-paleo friends are also superduper into the microbrew scene here in Boulder and boast about things like the hop content of all the IPAs they imbibe and I'm like

...

i don't even.

my poor husband drinks beer and it's verybad for him within a few hours and these guys are constantly either forgetting about this or "forgetting" it and trying to guilt and coerce him into sampling beers and soforth and I've actually lost my shit at one of them because he's such a jackass about it - he actually forwarded this article to us on Facebook yesterday like a triumphant gotcha, all AH-HA SEE ITS ALL IN YOUR HEAD!! If they weren't otherwise decent people and fun to hang out with I'd have fired them as friends long ago.

seriously, why would anyone act like this?
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:07 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Yeaaaaah, I don't think lactose intoxication is an actual thing.
posted by Justinian at 11:14 AM on May 15


Uh, you guys know what I mean. Good-feeling intoxication, not "hours of pain and explosive poopwater" intoxication which is obviously a thing.
posted by Justinian at 11:15 AM on May 15


eh lactose is a sugar and hits similar signalling pathways neurochemically (sugar famously feeds the neural reward centres) so if your metabolic sugar signalling system is deranged it could potentially trigger a similar cravings loop.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:32 AM on May 15


You know how lactose intolerant people are often addicted to lactose due to the intoxicating effect it has on them?

citation needed.
posted by inertia at 11:47 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


My ex claimed he had an intolerance for gluten.

I'd just sigh, and make him (as requested) pasta for dinner again. And pancakes for breakfast. He never suffered any GI distress, he just got caught by the fad.


I think I dated his opposite. He claimed to be lactose intolerant and only drank lactaid milk, but we'd go out and he's drink a huge bottle of chocolate milk made with real milk or a gigantic bowl of ice cream and then he'd have to race home because he got sick. Every. damn. time.
posted by inertia at 11:50 AM on May 15


People are always angry at anyone who chooses very individual standards for his life; because of the extraordinary treatment which that man grants to himself, they feel degraded, like ordinary beings.
-Nietzsche
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:24 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


My ex claimed he had an intolerance for gluten.

I'd just sigh, and make him (as requested) pasta for dinner again. And pancakes for breakfast. He never suffered any GI distress, he just got caught by the fad.


I don't understand this, what did this person think gluten is? What did they avoid when "avoiding gluten?"
posted by sweetkid at 12:42 PM on May 15


See the very first comment: Gluten is anything that's bad for you! Calories are a gluten!
posted by Justinian at 12:54 PM on May 15


There are three ingredients in bread: flour, water, salt

No.
posted by aspo at 12:57 PM on May 15


See the very first comment: Gluten is anything that's bad for you! Calories are a gluten!

huh. most people who yell at me about it know what it is.
posted by sweetkid at 1:14 PM on May 15


Lots of people say and do lots of internally consistent, ignorant things. Maybe they think "gluten" is a catch-all for processed, wheat-based things. Who knows. It's like when some Westerners think that MSG is this nefarious, bizarre, foreign, artificial thing used only in Chinese restaurants and Doritos - it's this belief carried aloft in the cultural aether, unrelated to study or fact. These people see "NO MSG" signs and buy into the vague sense that there is something sinister about MSG - why else would there be a sign about it? These people also think that they now know how to avoid MSG - just follow the signs, and avoid Chinese food! Yeah, about that...

I don't understand why some people are seemingly incapable of googling the word "gluten" and seeing for themselves that that there actually is an agreed-upon, bounded definition of the term.

This kind of thing happens all the time in many contexts, not just gluten and not just food...
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:20 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I usually say I'm "intolerant" or "sensitive," but perhaps I should try to find a better term, because now I'm sure to be dismissed as faddish and/or neurotic.

k_nemesis, no way. Keep using those terms. Eventually the diet trend will go away and you'll still be accurately describing your situation. Fuck 'em.
posted by GrapeApiary at 1:28 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Yes, the lifecycle of the gluten category mass delusion echoes the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome mass delusion of the 1960s through to the 1980s.

Symptoms:
  • Chest pain

  • Flushing

  • Headache

  • Numbness or burning in or around the mouth

  • Sense of facial pressure or swelling

  • Sweating

  • posted by meehawl at 1:33 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


    Symptoms:
    Chest pain
    Flushing
    Headache
    Numbness or burning in or around the mouth
    Sense of facial pressure or swelling
    Sweating


    Coincidentally, those are also symptoms of digesting pages and pages of glutenous ignorance.
    posted by ryanfou at 2:41 PM on May 15


    Gluten now just sounds like a Star Trek alien race.
    posted by The Whelk at 3:28 PM on May 15


    I am Zeke of Gluten from the planet Pinkus East.
    posted by mikelieman at 4:02 PM on May 15


    It turns out many federation crew members on the diplomatic visit are violently allergic to the Gluten ambassadors, it's initially misunderstood as a biological weapon
    posted by The Whelk at 4:45 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


    I imagine it would also create a very serious diplomatic incident when the affected crew members were found to have eaten the ambassadors.
    posted by elizardbits at 4:59 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


    "stop stop those are our children!" they shout, pointing to the blueberry muffins
    posted by The Whelk at 5:00 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


    mmm, muffinchildren
    posted by elizardbits at 5:10 PM on May 15


    also i'm gonna make some scones and contribute to this terrible genocide
    posted by elizardbits at 5:11 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


    THIER SCREAMS ARE SMOTHERED BY DELICIOUS JAM
    posted by The Whelk at 5:22 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


    I love you all!
    posted by mikelieman at 6:20 PM on May 15


    My personal problem with pasta and bread products is that, if I have them in front of me, I eat way way way too much of them and then fall asleep. So I can't keep any of that stuff in the house. Not gluten intolerance exactly, more like gluten addiction.
    posted by miyabo at 8:21 PM on May 15


    Yeah, I've limited carbs at lunch for years and never get the 3 o clock sleepiness any more.
    posted by sweetkid at 8:36 PM on May 15


    That's what teatime naps are for.
    posted by The Whelk at 8:52 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


    I wish! I worked in one office that had a "quiet area" but it eventually became an office and ugh capitalism
    posted by sweetkid at 8:59 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


    My high school desire to NEVER WORK IN AN OFFICE seems to be paying off now. I can have as many teatime naps as I want.
    posted by The Whelk at 9:18 PM on May 15


    I think the concept that there is a "normal diet" needs to die. Why is it a big deal if you don't want to eat gluten? If you don't like peanuts, is there any logical reason why they should be hidden in your food, even if you don't have a serious allergy? Why do I have to defend my decision to not eat meat and dairy, every single time I go out to eat with people?

    Why do many people feel the need to be the Normal Eating Police, judging who is worthy to have their desires met in a restaurant (because they have a medical condition)? Why shouldn't everybody with a preference, no matter the rationale behind it, get what they want when ordering their food? Even if it's a placebo? Why do we need to dismiss this as 'woo' or somehow less valid? Why does it matter if it's a fad?

    Let people eat what they want to eat, diets should be tailored to the individual. Eat what makes your body feel good - nobody should have to grin and bear intestinal distress if they can avoid it. Teach others the difference between the proper terminology (allergy/intolerance/sensitivity), and let chefs know that if they don't make the food to your dietary needs, you won't be eating there again. Follow through. False advertising in products should be pursued as such.

    It sucks that some people aren't getting the attention paid to their life-threatening allergies as should be paid, but this is a problem with the providers in the situation not treating the situation seriously enough. IMO we should be treating things equally - what harm is there if the fad-eater's dinner is actually gluten/nut/whatever free as advertised?

    Tell the condescending assholes peer pressuring people into "just have a bite, it won't kill you" that what you put into your body is none of their business. If you're not dealing with a small child, the manipulative behavior towards food choices really needs to stop.
    posted by Feyala at 10:52 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


    Well, from a restaurant standpoint, it's not as simple as whether something is "hidden in your food", and there actually is harm involved in making a dish gluten/nut/whatever free on demand. If you deal in glutenous food, actually preparing a dish gluten-free requires a different, clean workspace with different, clean tools, that haven't touched something involving gluten since they've last been washed. Same with any other allergy; if there's peanuts anywhere in the kitchen, those with peanut allergies are not safe without some taking some fairly extraordinary measures. So it becomes a question of whether there's a good reason to go through the time and process of scrubbing down everything for a single dish, potentially every single dish a restaurant serves, and this bullshit anti-scientific woo is not a good fucking reason for anything.

    If people taking an odd dietary measure for placebo purposes kept this entirely to themselves, preparing 100% of their own food and never mentioning this to anybody, it wouldn't be an issue at all, but that just never seems to be the case. Be it as a sermon or as a list of demands, fad dieters always impose their bullshit on the people around them in some way.

    And masking it behind false health claims absolutely serves to diminish people with actual health problems - this shouldn't even be something that needs explaining. Pretending that imaginary non-problems are the same thing as actual health- or life-threatening issues is disrespectful, appropriative, and just disgusting behavior.
    posted by kafziel at 1:41 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


    Why shouldn't everybody with a preference, no matter the rationale behind it, get what they want when ordering their food?

    Because that's not how hospitality works. You're obviously free to feed yourself in whatever way makes you happiest and healthiest, but once you expect someone else to do the cooking for you, you're entering into a social contract. And it's not just any social transaction; sharing food, feeding one another, is one of the most basic acts of civilization, a glue that keeps us together in tribes and a lube that smooths over interpersonal frictions.

    I think that's why people like me (and anyone who enjoy feeding people, ie chefs) get so angry about "made up" orthorexia. When I invite someone into my home for dinner, I'm not just putting nutrients into their bodies, I'm sharing my limited resources and gifting my time and skills. It's an act of love packed with meaning. Obviously I'm not trying to make someone I love sick or dead, so I'll do everything in my power to accommodate allergies, sensitivities, what have you. But if you refuse my delicious homemade bread because you read somewhere that glutens are the devil, and then two days later I catch you pigging out on pizza (true story), I have every right to be pissed cause you've breached the social contract for bullshit reasons.

    It's unfair, but the more tightly regulated your diet needs to be for whatever reasons, the more personal responsibilities you have in enforcing those rules, and that might mean you don't get to eat out. It sucks, but in my experience it's something people with genuine allergies have already internalized. They'll do the legwork to find safe sources of food, pack a lunch, whatever it takes not to die.
    posted by Freyja at 9:22 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


    orthorexia isn't made up.

    It sucks, but in my experience it's something people with genuine allergies have already internalized. They'll do the legwork to find safe sources of food, pack a lunch, whatever it takes not to die.

    Also, agreed with a lot of your comment Freyja, but enough of this. People have food allergies and other allergies that do not make them die, but they are still allowed (and doctor recommended) to avoid certain foods due to allergies. Seriously. That's kind of a scary concept that people are introducing into this thread, and it's honestly offensive.
    posted by sweetkid at 9:36 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


    My general rule is that although I find the more extreme end of lots of concessions for a very uncertain reaction a bit frustrating, I'm hesitant to condemn it lest this open the door to debating and pressuring over what counts as sufficiently allergic / sensitive / whatever. I'm allergic to shellfish, but I seem to have a fairly high threshold amount relative to some, such that I've only once had a definite reaction without having knowingly eaten shellfish, and I've not yet had a reaction severe enough to require medical attention.

    Yet.

    I intend to keep it that way, and I can't help but think that encouraging hair-splitting over whether a given set of reactions is severe enough to be legit -- particularly when it seems that mine don't necessarily qualify (!!!!!) -- is not exactly helping to contribute to that goal.
    posted by sparktinker at 9:39 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


    People have food allergies and other allergies that do not make them die, but they are still allowed (and doctor recommended) to avoid certain foods due to allergies. Seriously. That's kind of a scary concept that people are introducing into this thread, and it's honestly offensive.

    I never disputed that, nor do I mean to imply that restrictions short of deadly allergies are trivial or should not be accommodated.

    What I WAS saying is that the people I know who have real food issues are not the ones making my life hell as a host. Through necessity and lived experience, they have learned to manage without being rude by being clear about the ingredients/techniques to be avoided, bringing their own food to share, taking over hosting duties or suggesting restaurants they know to be safe.

    In my experience, it seems to be the most recent converts to the latest purest ways to eat who are the loudest and pushiest in their expectations that hosts (in private or restaurants) should conform to their self-imposed restrictions. And those people will just have to deal with not being invited to my table.
    posted by Freyja at 9:51 AM on May 16


    If a guest at our house says they don't eat something, we will work hard to accomodate them and tell them when we can't. I hope our friends and relatives don't abuse that by having dietary restrictions for frivolous reasons, but I don't look inside someone's guts, accompany them on visits to the doctor, interrogate them to determine the seriousness of their religious or ethical scruples, or track their bathroom habits, so I have to operate on trust. There are a few people who I suspect are just following trends or acting out their psychological problems, including my Grandma (she recently told us she has "self-diagnosed Celiac disease" and used to be obsessed with avoiding MSG), but we try to accomodate those folks as well.
    posted by Area Man at 10:05 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


    Regarding the food police thing, I do think that people sometimes care because food is cultural, sharing a meal is huge cultural and social experience. Aside from wanting accommodate guests and making people feel welcome in your home, there's a lot of cultural identity that's centered around food.

    Michael Pollan makes the point in his book Cooked that choosing to eat or to not eat certain foods reinforces social bonds and collective social identity (e.g. Jews are the people who don't eat pork). When I became a vegetarian, I stopped eating my grandmother's matzoh ball soup, and I could tell she was upset. We are the people who don't eat pork, but also the people who eat matzoh ball soup. Sharing meals with others is a huge cultural experience, it reinforces a cultural identity.
    posted by inertia at 10:34 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


    yes, i think that's understood, but I think there's a weird insecurity to it, too. Like I don't drink beer for various reasons, and some beer drinking friends will yell out "I'm getting another beer, don't judge me" when I hadn't even said anything, and have never criticized anyone else for drinking beer or not.
    posted by sweetkid at 10:59 AM on May 16


    sweetkid, I'm very offended by many of the comments in this thread, and your comments (as well as a few other people) give me a lot of relief and hope. I hope there is a vocal minority of ignorant food police making the most noise and most people aren't so judgmental. If there really are these inconsiderate fad dieters around causing so many problems, it's not our fault.

    I'm in the same boat as you. I struggled for 30 years with vague health issues that would come and go but eventually got to point of being debilitating. I had constant pain in my side, episodes of something I would liken to brain-fog. There were days where I couldn't do anything and would just have to lay down all day. No eating, no talking, even listening to something like tv or radio was uncomfortable.

    So, I stopped eating gluten and for whatever reason my symptoms practically disappeared. I have no doubt in my case it is some kind of environmental thing, like stress, or some kind of allergy. The weird thing is I have been able to eat bread at various points in the past.

    But how much effort should we expend in figuring this out. Should I buy an endoscope and a chemistry set or something? At this point I'm very misanthropic about the whole thing. While I would like to figure it out, I don't have the time, money or energy and I would just prefer to take care of myself in a way that I don't feel like shit. I will occasionally eat a minimal amount of gluten to be polite, but the results are noticeable, psychosomatic or not. And I pay for it for 2 to 3 days. Oh and I will never eat something just because it's tempting like a croissant or a slice of pizza or something. Even though I would love to, the temptation has long since passed.

    In my opinion we are the accommodating and understanding ones. There is a lot of self-doubt that goes along with this but I got to the point a few years ago where I just said fuck it, and while socially things are often a bit more awkward, the fact that I can do 'normal person' things, like working a full day and not being totally exhausted, play sports, go out on weekends, help friends move, etc, more than makes up for it.
    posted by ryanfou at 12:00 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


    In my opinion we are the accommodating and understanding ones.

    I don't get the point you are making. If I inquire about your diet before you visit and then cook you food that doesn't contain gluten (which is how it works if you are invited to dinner at our house), why am I not also being accommodating and understanding? You seem to be suggesting that only you and people with similar problems are truly being accommodating, which is a pretty churlish attitude.

    I also find the doubt about the very existence of fad dieters puzzling. Have you really not run into such people?
    posted by Area Man at 12:08 PM on May 16


    Area Man, ultimately it would depend on the situation and how well we knew each other.

    If you invited me over, I would try to avoid gluten if possible but ultimately eat it out of politeness, and I wouldn't raise the issue at all or feel put upon. I would feel honoured to be your guest. If you asked me of any special requirements beforehand, depending how well I knew you I may or may not mention it but that is going above and beyond IMO. If I felt like I would have to overly justify the gluten thing, I would say something like "I'm really sorry but I don't usually eat dessert", which seem to be the hardest to avoid dishes. And if it turned out I really had to eat something with gluten, I would assume the responsibility myself and not feel put upon, since it was my own judgement in not telling you the true reason.

    The situations that bug me is when somebody offers you a plate of cookies, or something they prepared, or from a plate of appetizers or something, in a situation where I wasn't expecting to eat anything or didn't choose to eat, and I have to justify why I don't want it. It is very tiresome and happens all the time. "Oh are you allergic? what are you allergic to? just take a pill. you're just a picky eater. try it!" The number of people that argue this stuff is surprising, which is what lead to my comment about us being the understanding ones.

    I admit my churlishness, although if you read this thread with my perspective, I think you would find it justifiable.

    re: fad dieters, I don't get out much and I don't directly know of any in my circle of family/friends. maybe I'm rare in that case. I know some vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, etc. I don't really consider them fad dieters nor do I find them particularily rude or inconsiderate. in fact quite the opposite.
    posted by ryanfou at 12:48 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


    The situations that bug me is when somebody offers you a plate of cookies, or something they prepared, or from a plate of appetizers or something, in a situation where I wasn't expecting to eat anything or didn't choose to eat, and I have to justify why I don't want it.

    I do a 16/8 IF schedule, so "I don't want to spoil my appetite for my (lunch|dinner) in a few (hours|minutes)." is my go-to reason for passing on offered snacks...

    Turns out Bubbe was right after all....
    posted by mikelieman at 12:51 PM on May 16


    This thread made me glad that most people in my life are pretty accommodating at least to my face. I have a friend who makes amazing cakes and I have made it clear she doesn't ever have to try to attempt a gluten free version for me, but she said she might try.

    Also, when I go out with people, if we share appetizers they will accommodate me if it's just one or two other people, if it's a group I'm happy to order several things, and just not eat the ones that have gluten or anything from the long list of raw foods I can't eat.

    Personally I've found nutrition study and elimination diets and things like that to be really empowering and have helped me figure out a bunch of things that had been affecting me for years - oral allergy syndrome, skin itchiness that definitely seems connected to things with wheat content, though the problem might not be gluten-wide, I'm not completely sure. I also noticed that like, if I eat sugar too late, I can't sleep.

    I realize it comes across as wooey to some people - some things do to me, too. For example I like my antihistamines and will not entertain the idea of taking avocado oil instead. But I still think there's a lot of power over your own health that can come from tweaking your diet and finding out what makes you feel good, personally.

    Should people be pushy and demanding to their friends about it, no, and I definitely don't think "gluten is poison," nor, from what I have heard, do doctors think so. I told my doctor eating wheat again made me notice some skin irritation come back and he said the logical thing to do was stop eating it, so I did. The idea that that lumps me in with fad dieters and that people, as in the opening of this thread, are all "Assholes!" "Idiots!" because of what's written in this one article is just really irritating to me. I've seen this article posted everywhere now with the headline "Gluten Sensitivity Isn't Real" with a bunch of HAHA tacked on, which, I don't even know how that's supposed to be helping people with celiac disease, or doing anything constructive except validate people who like to laugh and ridicule other people's personal choices.
    posted by sweetkid at 1:13 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


    If you asked me of any special requirements beforehand, depending how well I knew you I may or may not mention it but that is going above and beyond IMO.

    Oh man, this is such an Ask vs Guess thing. Or something.

    Look, if I invite you to dinner and ask you if there are any restrictions I should be aware of, it's because I want you to come to dinner and not leave sick or hungry. Answer the question! Don't lie, don't obfuscate! If you really feel that it's such an imposition, then don't accept the invitation, and propose something else to do. But jesus, don't put your host in the position of feeding you food you really can't eat when they don't want to do that and have explicitly asked for ways to feed you properly.
    posted by rtha at 1:16 PM on May 16 [7 favorites]


    Yea, also I would never eat anything that I thought would make me sick just to be polite. I'll definitely eat things I don't *like eating* just to be polite, but that has a lot to do with how I was raised.
    posted by sweetkid at 1:20 PM on May 16


    But I thought you ate a bunch of baked goods at Christmas? I might be mixing up your allergies.

    Anyway, it would be great to not tell people that I can't have the things I can't have. Instead I simply eat beforehand so that if they don't have anything it's not a big deal, and I discourage people from cooking for me unless we're close enough or I know them well enough to know that they'll take it well if I have to turn down that cake they made with margarine because it's dairy margarine. People easily mix up lactose intolerance and allergy, for one. So yeah, I pack my own food, I know what restaurants won't work (typical Indian places are death traps, ditto Thai) and I often eat before I go out somewhere because I don't want to play 20 questions with a busy waiter.

    Honestly, I really find it weird that people want to be treated as if they have these really horrible allergies, and sort of take it on as a serious part of their identity almost, when they can reasonably choose to eat the food in question. From my perspective, you're super lucky. I don't get why you want to get lumped in with people for whom it's effectively a life-threatening disability.

    Like, for example, I get migraines without the headache. I get auras, nausea, and sensitivity to noise and light. But I would never think to insist that it's just as serious as people who get migranes who are incapacitated, vomit, require meds, etc. or claim that people who insisted that their migranes were materially worse than mine were being offensive or whatever. Their lives suck more than mine in that sense. Why fight with them about it? Why be pissy instead of grateful?
    posted by the young rope-rider at 1:30 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


    And to be clear, my allergies are serious but they're not as bad as someone who frequently winds up in the hospital, and thank god for that. I don't know why I'd be pissed that I'm not treated with the same amount of care for my significantly more mild condition.
    posted by the young rope-rider at 1:32 PM on May 16


    the young rope-rider: that's my point. I don't want to make a big deal out of it. If I had my way I would never mention it anytime ever. But society is constantly forcing us into revealing this or justifying it. So now we are endangering celiac's lives, being rude guests apparently, positioning ourselves to a superior position socially, etc etc etc.
    posted by ryanfou at 1:39 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


    But I thought you ate a bunch of baked goods at Christmas?

    I was still figuring it out then -

    But often it's like even before I get to the itching people are like OMG YOU SAID YOU DON'T EAT PIZZA BECAUSE OF THE WHEAT YOU ARE A SHEEPLE CLEARLY.

    Like at first I thought I would just ignore it, then over Christmas everyone was giving out cookies and cupcakes and stuff and dinner parties had cakes and it got so ridiculous and uncomfortably itchy that I gave a huge pile of stuff coworkers had given me away because I couldn't take it any more.


    That's what I said. I just kind of figured this stuff out. I don't, like, go back and forth and decide on different days I won't eat it and other days i will.

    Honestly, I really find it weird that people want to be treated as if they have these really horrible allergies, and sort of take it on as a serious part of their identity almost, when they can reasonably choose to eat the food in question. From my perspective, you're super lucky. I don't get why you want to get lumped in with people for whom it's effectively a life-threatening disability.


    I don't know if that's for me, but I do feel lucky that my allergies are milder. I don't want to be lumped in with people who are going along with a fad and think gluten is a calorie.

    We had people in this very thread saying if you're allergic but it doesn't kill you then you can and should still eat the thing and deal with the discomfort, which is what I was responding to (at some point). That's not true, but yes I am very glad that my allergies are not life threatening. It has been very empowering though to find out what they are and avoid foods that are triggers. I don't think that should be so controversial.
    posted by sweetkid at 1:40 PM on May 16


    when they can reasonably choose to eat the food in question.

    wait, I missed this part, again if it's for me, I can't reasonably eat the food I'm allergic to, that is the point of food allergies.
    posted by sweetkid at 1:42 PM on May 16


    the young rope-rider that's why I sometimes just don't tell people about my (relatively mild) food allergies. If I mention I am allergic to almonds, people tend to get wide-eyed and start panicking that they've nearly killed me with baked goods or something. I just get itchy, I promise!
    posted by inertia at 1:44 PM on May 16


    rtha: here I go justifying myself again, but if you were to invite me I would probably be able to tell that from your personality and make the right choice.

    People are assuming they've invited me over and I'm a pain in the ass already. Maybe I invited you and Area Man to my place instead. I have a family and a place and know how to cook as well, you know. Maybe you are the pain in the ass.
    posted by ryanfou at 2:15 PM on May 16


    It's pretty funny that people can still be so insistent that these peoples' problems are totally made up when the very study we're discussing strongly suggests that these people actually just have FODMAP sensitivity instead. Just because it's a different molecule(s) than they thought was the problem, does that make them total idiots for trying to figure out what was wrong? Does it mean that they completely invented their experiences of pain and discomfort just to put you out as a host, or "get attention"? Is it really so hard to believe that the modern industrialized Western diet harms peoples' health in lots of strange, interactive, insidious ways?

    I can't help but think that encouraging hair-splitting over whether a given set of reactions is severe enough to be legit -- particularly when it seems that mine [a non-fatal shellfish allergy] don't necessarily qualify (!!!!!) -- is not exactly helping to contribute to that goal.

    This is right on. The solution to people second-guessing the seriousness of each others' dietary requirements is not to intensify the second-guessing on people we REALLY think are faking it. The very backlash against GFers is the reason people won't take allergies seriously, not the GF thing itself - so intensifying the backlash only ends up hurting those with more serious issues.

    It's happened like twenty times in this thread alone - someone comes in and says "lol, stupid people not eating [x], what a bunch of bullshit woo morons!" and then someone has to say "well actually I get really really sick from [x]" and justify their suffering in the hopes that that person will reply "oh, I didn't mean anyone with actual problems!" The issue there is that the person making that judgment has no special insight on those problems, or any special way to distinguish actual sufferers from "fake" sufferers, he's just kneejerk assuming they're made up. That hurts everyone with dietary requirements that need to be respected for health reasons, from diabetics to allergy sufferers to people who just feel like total shit when they eat bread for whatever reason.

    The whole thing really reminds me of the recent thread on how womens' experiences of pain are so often dismissed by medical professionals. A lot of the people in that same thread who were arguing that women's experiences of pain should be given more credence by doctors are over in this very same thread arguing that THESE people who are describing their pain and discomfort are overwrought and faking it for attention - just the same thing women complain about when doctors dismiss them for expressing their internal state. I have a hard time reconciling these views; if someone tells me they experience a great deal of discomfort, even if I feel like given past experience they're probably exaggerating, the ethical thing to do is to take them at their word.
    posted by dialetheia at 2:21 PM on May 16 [7 favorites]


    > People are assuming they've invited me over and I'm a pain in the ass already. Maybe I invited you and Area Man to my place instead. I have a family and a place and know how to cook as well, you know. Maybe you are the pain in the ass.

    You seem to be getting angry about a purely hypothetical dinner party.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 2:30 PM on May 16


    The corpse in the library: you have it backwards.
    posted by ryanfou at 2:34 PM on May 16


    A hypothetical dinner party is getting mad at you?
    posted by The corpse in the library at 2:39 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]


    Several things are being conflated and misinterpreted throughout this thread.

    Some people actually have problems with gluten qua gluten, viz. people with Celiac disease. It has not, to my knowledge, been shown that the *only* way to be sensitive to gluten is to have Celiac disease.

    Some people may be sensitive to things which may be to some degree correlated with gluten's presence, even though they are not literally sensitive to gluten itself. The linked study in question showed that many people who think they have gluten sensitivity may actually be sensitive to other things.

    Some people follow fad diets which preach that gluten is more or less bad for everyone, or that sensitivity to gluten itself is more common than it is. A subset of these people are also confused as to what gluten itself is. I don't get the sense that anybody in this subset is posting in this thread. Either way, it is safe to say that somebody who is adamant about a gluten-free diet, and yet who also enjoys a tall frosty glass of traditional beer, has missed something along the way.

    All of this stuff about gluten is different from, say, Chinese Food Syndrome, where it is well-settled and black-and-white that the MSG in Chinese Food is not what is making you feel bad.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 2:41 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]


    dialetheia: the one good thing in this thread is that I learned about FODMAP, which I will have to investigate more.

    Regarding the modern food supply, I tend to shelve all my suspicions here just because it can be very contentious and there is so much we don't know. I hope science asks the right questions here, however it's a tricky, very political issue. But yeah, this isn't the stone age any more. Pesticides, GM, fertilizers, strains, importing from different continents, pollution. And whose to say what we ate in the stone age was any better, historical life expectancies certainly wouldn't be very fashionable nowadays.
    posted by ryanfou at 3:18 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


    dialetheia: "the very study we're discussing strongly suggests that these people actually just have FODMAP sensitivity"

    You can also analyse the results of that experiment behaviourally. if I take a lab animal and sensitise it to a particular food group by pairing its visceral sensations of digesting that food and then applying an aversive stimulus, after enough time I can produce a high anxiety state in that animal simply by feeding it that food. That's how you create a physioneurotic stimulus, a "sensitivity".

    For some populations with specific intestinal biomes and heightened sensitivity to polysaccharide digestion and associated sensations of bloating, gas production, possible biome-influenced dysregulation of peristalsis, the application of a food substrate that produces these sensations may tend to result in stress activation, felt as anxiety and visceral discomfort. Maybe we could change that response acutely with a transpoosion, and get some quick relief? That's an experiment waiting to get past an IRB.

    It's not often appreciated that for people with schizophrenia, one of the most common hallucinations after auditory phenomena is actually visceral hallucinations or extreme somatisation, and sometimes elaboration into baroque delusional schemes of possession or infestation by others *within* their gut. The amount of time people with chronic schizophrenia spend in acute care and EDs/A&Es worried about their bowels is really impressive.

    I never underestimate patient's sensitivity to their intestines, and I've seen some patients with acute psychosis improve after stern bowel regimens or even disimpaction and enemas. We've known since ancient times that the viscera of the hypochondria are the seat of melancholy and sources of the vapor that caused such morbid feelings.
    posted by meehawl at 9:20 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]


    People are assuming they've invited me over and I'm a pain in the ass already.

    I'm not assuming. I'm just going off what you said:

    > If you invited me over, I would try to avoid gluten if possible but ultimately eat it out of politeness, and I wouldn't raise the issue at all or feel put upon. I would feel honoured to be your guest. If you asked me of any special requirements beforehand, depending how well I knew you I may or may not mention it but that is going above and beyond IMO.

    If I find out after that you didn't tell me about something that makes you sick and I cooked it and you ate it and felt terrible afterwards, well, congrats, now I do think you're a pain in the ass. But not because of your dietary restrictions - because of your communication skills.
    posted by rtha at 9:29 PM on May 16 [4 favorites]


    rtha: there are social situations other than coming over to your house. get over yourself.
    posted by ryanfou at 9:53 PM on May 16


    ryanfou what are you talking about?
    posted by sweetkid at 9:54 PM on May 16


    [No need for things to get personal in here, folks.]
    posted by LobsterMitten at 9:55 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


    Sorry LobsterMitten. Yeah this is where I bow out. This thread has upset me for a few days which is ridiulculous. I mailed you sweetkid.
    posted by ryanfou at 10:18 PM on May 16


    Posted for the menu choices, in particular, but to warm up to the intended framing, start from the top.
    posted by one weird trick at 7:44 AM on May 19


    Seriously.
    You can pry the garlic from my cold smelly hands.
    posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:37 PM on May 14 [2 favorites +] [!]


    Please, someone help me!
    posted by garlic at 1:21 PM on May 19 [4 favorites]


    Please, someone help me!
    posted by garlic


    As soon as user "butter" gets here.

    /clears throat and adjusts bib.
    posted by Celsius1414 at 1:55 PM on May 19 [3 favorites]


    « Older An Oral History of the West Wing   |   The Court finds Idaho’s... Newer »


    This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



    Post