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Sep 17, 2010 09:16 AM

The Gluten-free trend........ Why?

Came across this article today:

"Gluten-free" has just entered my vocabulary, only 3 years ago, when a friend was having digestion trouble. She could literally eat nothing without cramps and other side effects i dont care to mention. Tests after tests revealed nothing, and finally they had her mail a certain specimen to the U.S. (I am Canadian, apparently the test isn't done here) to have lab tests done to see if she was gluten intolerant. The test was positive.

Talking about this when it happened, to people around me, nobody really knew what this was... And today everybody knows and is going gluten free. I highly suspect all these people have not gone to the trouble of mailing their doo-doo to USA to have this test done.

So what is this fad?
To the people who are cutting gluten, what are your motivations?
If medical, why is it that suddenly, more and more people are diagnosed with this?
Was it present 10-15 years ago but we didn't know about it?
If it was, what was it diagnosed as then?

Being human, a species doted with intelligence, i can't help ask questions and doubt claims until these questions are answered.... What are your opinions on this?

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  1. Well, you are the Sourberry aren't you. Actually you are taking a scientific approach of not reacing conclusions until the data, real data, hard data is in. I had same thoughts about all lthe peanut allergies that seemed to appear suddenly. I have read that peanut allergies have been known for some years but its surgence into the popular front always made me a litle suspicious.

    I sometimes wonder if it is not a case of the "allergy du jour" and there are those who jump on the bandwagon because it affords them the opportunity to be somehow "special" and get to request special treatment. We have a friend who is supposedly gluten intolerant and it creates something of a problem when they come for dinner, especially with desserts. She is pan alleergic, it seems, and one time she admitted that she has never been tested for allergy to gluten but just seemed to assume so because of her other allergies. Her husband indicated that he was highly suspicious of her claims and had slipped her glutens when she didn't know it to no ill effect.

    Now, I used to have a severe allegy to shrimp,crab and lobster identified by testing. Over the years I apparently outgrew it, again confirmed by an allergist, but I still am frighented to eat any of them due to the possibility of anaphalactic shock. When I travel to places that have a lot of these items, I still carry my epipen.

    Now we both should expect to be lambasted by all the gluten, lactose, and whatever, people on the board. Stand back and watch.

    22 Replies
    1. re: singlemalt

      Mmmhmm, agreed on the lambasted. But just to appease, i dont doubt people, like my friend who have had testing done and when she eliminated gluten from her diet, she could actually digest again.

      I am just trying to start a discussion, conversation, so that people can share their views as to why they are/aren't jumping on the Gluten-free bandwagon.

      1. re: singlemalt

        On the gluten front, there are many out there who've self-diagnosed themselves as intolerant and then there are the ones with actual, medically diagnosed celiac disease, which is not an allergy. It is an immune response that keeps the body from being able to absorb nutrition through the walls of the small intestine. In the article that Sourberry Lily linked above, Shauna James Ahern ( said she felt "low-level lousy" for her entire life before being diagnosed at age 38. She felt crummy because she was malnourished. That's a relatively mild case compared to my niece, who was so sick and malnourished from celiac that she would've suffered irreversible developmental complications had she not been diagnosed at age 2 1/2. So yes, celiac is a real thing. If even the tiniest trace of gluten enters her system, she becomes violently ill. I've seen it happen.

        The problem with the gluten-free diet becoming such trendy thing is that all those who are dabbling in it screw the pooch for celiacs since the dieters suffer no ill consequences if gluten enters their systems. So people who've never encountered anyone with celiac disease and/or don't understand how it works may think it's fine if a little gluten slips in when it absolutely isn't. Putting a GF snack on a kitchen counter where a piece of bread just sat isn't ok. Neither is draining food in a colander where wheat pasta was previously drained. The colander, even if presumed thoroughly clean, likely has traces of wheat on it that will cause a gluten reaction.

        My response isn't intended as a backlash. I merely intend to clarify and inform.

        1. re: agoodbite

          Thank you agoodbite! Very informative. Indeed that sounded like what my friend had, except it seemed like the disease appeared closely after giving birth to her first child. I am not the one with said disease so i do not know much about it.

          1. re: SourberryLily

            I don't have celiac disease, but often sneeze from white wheat flour.
            Given a choice of possible sneezing from a box of crackers, or not sneezing from a box of gkluten free crackers, I tend to buy the gluten free.

            I have also found that my sneezing is lessened or avoided if the item, such as bread, is toasted as opposed to eaten 'fresh.' Somehow the chemical change helps reduce my reaction.

            A plain bagel equals sneezes, multi grain, no sneezes. No need for medical testa, I just choose food less likely to bring on sneezing.

            I'll just have that ice cream in a cup, not a cone..................

            1. re: SourberryLily

              He, SourberryLily,

              I'm very glad for your curiosity. It came across as genuine and I thank you for reading my response. If I hadn't experienced what happened with my niece firsthand, I doubt I'd be as inquisitive as you are.

              1. re: agoodbite

                I think that you've described it well.

                Celiac disease is a real phenomenon, and can be very disabling for the people who have it. However, there are a lot of people who self diagnose gluten intolerance (or a variety of other problems) without medical input. Sometime they might be right, but other times it may simply be a placebo effect, or something more subtle, like cutting out refined flour products and related food makes them feel better because they are eating less highly refined food.

                These people make things a lot harder for the people who really do have a serious problem, because the self diagnosed stuff is often self medicated, with a not particularly consistent avoidance of some foods, but not others.

                It sometimes puts me in mind of people who claim an MSG allergy, so they can't eat Chinese food, but will happily chow down on MSG loaded foods with no ill effect because they don't know it has MSG in it. They may honestly believe that MSG is the problem, but with a real intolerance or allergy, you react even when you don't know it's there.

            2. re: agoodbite

              YES, the big problem with the faddishness of it is that gluten-free-by-choice folks introduce a problem for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerances and allergies

              My girlfriend has celiac and I've seen her become violently ill after ingesting even a small amount of gluten. It takes a few hours, but the onset is pretty sudden and awful. She was diagnosed as an infant and manages just fine-- we must read *all* ingredient lists, and she's a master at thoroughly yet nicely relating her needs to restaurant servers. If a server is clueless or doesn't seem to pay attention, it's best to play it as safe as possible, which might mean leaving. Still, the last thing a restaurant wants is to make its diners ill.

              Sadly, when we meet people who also claim gluten intolerance, most have nothing to back it up except things like "my yoga instructor told me to stop eating gluten" and other such silliness.

              1. re: salsa72

                I hear your point, salsa72, that people who choose to not eat gluten trivialize the severity of gluten intolerance for those who are truly forced not to eat gluten.

                I have gone gluten-free by choice. But I don't see that it's a problem. Since when is making a personal choice to eat or not eat something a big problem?

                I stopped eating gluten because I found I feel better without it, and as a completely unexpected side benefit, it seems to have cured my restless leg syndrome. So maybe I do have a sensitivity or maybe I just don't want to eat it. It's my choice and my choices of what I put in my mouth are not other people's problems.

                There have been occasions when I'm eating out and order the gluten free item and the server asks if I have celiac disease. First of all, that's none of their business. If I go to bar and order a non-alcoholic drink do they ask I'm an alcoholic? But anyway, i usually, just say, "I would just like the [fill in whatever the food is]. Thank you for having this on your menu."

                1. re: taos

                  Perhaps the server is asking merely to understand how careful the kitchen needs to be while preparing your food. For many w/ celiac, the slightest amount of cross-contamination can cause a reaction.

                  The main problem with those that choose to go gluten-free as a lifestyle is that they won't suffer the very serious consequences of consuming even trace amounts of gluten that a person with celiac disease will. People eating GF merely as a lifestyle raise the possibility that restaurants won't take the concerns that people medically diagnosed with celiac seriously which could lead to all sorts of scenarios where gluten could sneak into the food that is supposed to be absolutely GF.

                  1. re: agoodbite

                    "People eating GF merely as a lifestyle raise the possibility that restaurants won't take the concerns that people medically diagnosed with celiac seriously which could lead to all sorts of scenarios where gluten could sneak into the food that is supposed to be absolutely GF."
                    bingo. this is the primary point that many of us have tried to make here and in other similar threads. it's gotten to the point where i'll contact the restaurant in advance to be sure they can accommodate me, and once there, if i feel that the server isn't "getting" it, i'll talk to the manager as well - not to rat out the server, merely to get confirmation that someone understands the issue. and it always makes me feel better when the chef comes out to talk to me about it, which has happened on occasion.

                    1. re: agoodbite

                      Doubt it. I think they're just making what passes for small talk.

                      Anyway, as I said in my first post, it my choice to go gluten free, whether doing so is a life and death decision, a religious one, or suggested by my astrologer.

                      I think you are completely wrong that restaurants will slacken off on their gluten-free standards just because some people's gluten choices are governed by less than dire medical consequences.

                      1. re: taos

                        "I think you are completely wrong that restaurants will slacken off on their gluten-free standards just because some people's gluten choices are governed by less than dire medical consequences."

                        I strongly, strongly disagree. There is a backlash which occurs each time waitstaff have spent energy relaying dietary instructions just to return to the table to witness the customer nibbling bread, giggling "Well, one little cheat won't hurt..." It hurts the people who have very dire ramifications as opposed to those just dabbling.

                        It is within all our rights to choose whatever diet we wish. But when we use terms such as allergy or intolerance or medical necessity we should use them for true needs. Anything else lessens their impact and makes it much harder for those with medically based needs to be treated with the seriousness they deserve.

                        1. re: meatn3

                          It's unfortunate that restaurant staff judge a group by one person's behavior (or many, as the case may be) but it is common for people to generalize this way. The thing is for waitstaff and kitchen to take each request individually and seriously. It really doesn't matter what someone else might have done previously in their restaurant. I'm certain that the restaurant's lawyer or insurance agent would advise them to take this attitude, against their natural instinct to generalize.

                          People on special diets are going to vary in what and why they eat, and how they are treated/advised to eat. Some allergists tell patients who are allergic to peanuts that they can eat tree nuts, for instance. Some strictly do not advise it. There is always going to be variation in the way diners approach their diet. Ideally, this variation shouldn't influence the restaurant's approach, however. It's the smart thing to do if one is running a restaurant, to train everyone to take each request at its word, no matter the behavior of the diner. After all, the customer is always right, even when they're wrong.

                          1. re: meatn3

                            I think you misunderstand. I have never asked for anything special favors or specially-prepared foods that aren't already on the menu.t. I am talking about restaurants that have regular items on their menu marked as gluten free, or in some cases a completely separate gluten free menu that they promote.

                            In a lot of cases, this doesn't even require that much of extra work, it's just a marketing gimmick to draw in extra customers. For example, instead of offering a burger with a side of onion rings, they offer the same burger, no bun, with a side of fries.

                            The gluten free menu is a win-win. The restaurant attracts more customers by offering essentially different plating of the same food. Customers have options that cater to their dietary choices/needs.

                            1. re: taos

                              I wasn't assuming you made special requests - just remembering all the situations I have observed where you see the server and the kitchen getting frustrated. Unfortunately many places just aren't that knowledgeable. This gets critical when a server or expo person decides that picking croutons off the salad makes it GF...

                              If the menu has GF options ( or any specialty options) then I agree that the item is to be assumed available for all. With some places the "specialty" item is often more interesting.

                              I apologize if my rambling felt like an attack - not my intent!

                              1. re: taos

                                The example you used (same burger, no bun, fries instead of onion rings) would be fine for someone who's avoiding gluten or just prefers not to have it, but it would not be okay for someone with celiac disease. Those fries? Most likely fried in the same oil as the onion rings. That is enough of a trace of gluten (as I understand it, at least) to make someone who suffers from celiac disease very ill. And *that* is the reason it's important for the restaurant to know if it's no gluten out of preference or necessity -- not because they're nosy. They need to know, is it "clear the decks, use nothing at all that gluten may have been in contact with", or rather "I'd just prefer not to eat gluten". Big difference.

                                1. re: taos

                                  If you say gluten-free and they think celiac, it will take the staff twice as much effort. They must sanitize a workspace and tools specially, get special cutting boards, change the oil, and change their gloves and maybe even their aprons/smocks. It is expensive and time-consuming during a rush. Most places with GF on the menu mostly prepare it for those who do NOT have an allergy but simply don't want gluten, so they prepare those items like normal unless you say you have an allergy.

                                  Thus, the allergy question is extremely important. If you have severe allergies, make sure your servers know-- cross contamination is inevitable in kitchens without special care. If you aren't, SAY so and save the poor staff the stress of freaking out and remaking your salad 10 times to be certain only to see you sneaking a cracker later on.

                                  1. re: Basiorana

                                    Do you think anyone really goes to that much trouble? Not saying they shouldn't, but I'd be surprised if they did, both because of all the extra work and because most restaurants probably don't have a specific protocol to follow.

                                    1. re: babette feasts

                                      Places that take it seriously do. I've been in a few kitchens (natural foods oriented) where there was a dedicated GF sandwich station, with their own set of condiments, color coded knives, etc.

                                      I was given a kitchen tour at an allergy friendly specialty foods producer/retailer in my area and the kitchen was run like a surgical bay. Total wash down between production days, no nuts allowed in the facility, on GF days only GF was produced, etc.

                                      This level of awareness is rare, but it does exist.

                          2. re: taos

                            I had the same result. The restless leg syndrome disappeared. This was extremely painful to me as one knee has been replaced and the other needs to be, but I would still 'run' in my sleep. Often waking up.

                    2. I developed a gluten intolerance after major surgery. That and a feather intolerance! I had to get rid of all my bedding:( And relearn how to eat:( I do not have Celiac but a beer will incapacitate me. Sadly. This sort of thing can and will happen to people after a major physical event like surgery or childbirth or even after a major psychological trauma. The body does what it wants when it wants.

                      And - although I find the tone of that article a little disingenuous perhaps - all the increased discourse is just helping people identify what is going on with their bodies. It took me a year to figure out why I felt like hell all day every day and the doctors couldn't help me. I was able to diagnose myself because I could do research thanks to people like Shauna Ahern. I think the internet has helped tremendously.

                      I'm mostly thankful for the increased awareness. And I'm thankful to have (mostly) understanding friends. You can judge and question all you want. But unless you are feeling sick and are in pain all day, every day, all of a sudden, and the doctors make you think you are crazy when you know - you KNOW - something is amiss; then you should really try not to judge because you haven't lived it. And I'm one of the lucky ones who doesn't have full blown celiac as agoodbite describes!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: rdnnyc

                        The post was not a judgement but inquisitive. I was afraid it would have been taken as a judgement to those who truly have trouble, oh well.

                        Thanks for shedding a little light on the subject. I suppose if testing becomes more available and awareness is spread more people with this issue can be diagnosed and people who don't have issue will make wrong assumptions like "it's going to help me lose weight".

                        1. re: SourberryLily

                          I wouldn't worry SourberryLily, I didn't think those above were being harsh...all good info. I have a girlfriend whose daughter has celiac and another girlfriend who is gluten-intolerant as are two of her three kids. Celiac is an auto-immune disease, and once you have one auto-immune disease the probability of getting another one is much greater. Allergies are auto-immune too, as is thyroid, arthritis, etc. Having an intolerance isn't really an least according to my allergist. Therefore you can test negative to it on an allergy test and still have it cause problems for you. The gluten-free diet may in fact, help some people lose weight because they are cutting out bread/wheat products which as we know are carbs which turn into sugar faster than protein...excess sugar is stored as fat. If you're not eating a chicken sandwich because you can't eat the bread, then maybe you're eating a chicken salad? Plus, for me...I'd have to give up beer and I am a self proclaimed beer snob. I have another acquaintance that developed a wheat allergy so bad that he has to carry an epi-pen and if there is a bread product on his plate with his food at a restaurant, it will cause him to go into anaphylactic (not sure I spelled that correctly) shock. And guess what...he's HORRIBLY he's definitely not your poster child for losing weight through a wheat/gluten intolerance. I'm glad more awareness is coming to it, but as with all things there will be those that proclaim to have it that don't...or those that simply feel better for avoiding the "culprit." Whatever the "culprit" is for them, if they feel better then more power to them...sometimes, medical science cannot explain why one feels better after cutting certain things out of a diet...but we know it works. Here's my classic example: My daughter was breast feed for six months. Then we went to formula. She developed lots of ear infections (like 9 in 9 months), eczema, and diarrhea. We switch to a soy based product and she did much better. Then it was time to switch to milk ( I did this later than most because of all the trouble we'd had already.) We tried the regular Vit D milk. She got a terrible rash on her face and anywhere the milk touched her (hands, neck, face) and got a bloated belly, gas, and_you guessed it_terrible diarrhea...and yet another series of ear infections. I asked her ped if he thought she might be allergic to milk. He told me, no, but take her off all milk and see if she gets better. She did. I took her to an allergist. He said she had a mild true allergy but a very huge intolerance and if I keep giving her milk her body would continue to reject it more and more until she had a full blown his advice..."stop." Amazingly, she was also allergic to other maple syrup...even organic straight from the tree syrup...and blue dye...turns out she was REALLY allergic to the blue dye...needed a double dose of benedryl and a very quick car ride to the emergency room for more. It is technically impossible to be allergic to a dye because the thing causing the allegry has to have a protien...but she sure had a reaction to it! So...I think doctors continuously get smarter about things, including diagnosing "strange" things. I think it can come on suddenly, especially after your body has had a major, child birth, other immune issues, other significant allergies. And I think it is very UNLIKELY to cause people to lose weight...over the long haul...unless they also make other lifestyle changes. We eat what I call a "less white stuff" diet...less wheat, rice, potatoes, etc. I am fighting breast cancer (I do NOT have it yet, but on the 'you got it' scale, I am one unit away from the 'magic' number), so that has motivated me to eat differently and to try to reduce my resting sugar levels...spikes in sugar cause the body problems and inflammation which lower the bodies ability to fight off the regularly occurring mis-fired cells. Plus, I see so many overweight kids...and not just chubby, but plain out fat children that I know what the US has been doing over the last 30 years is NOT working...

                          I'm glad you asked the question...good info all around.

                        2. re: rdnnyc

                          Well said and I can totally sympathize with this experience, being personally struck last year with new multiple allergies, my body suddenly reacting with symptoms like asthma and allergy attacks, skin rashes and flare-ups, and a general sense of feeling sick all over (I did went through a good handful of those major physical events which likely started all this). The doctors failed to give me a straight diagnosis but went on to prescribe a huge cocktail of allergy and asthma medicines, which didn't help but caused more harm. At the worst of times, the doctors did seem to treat me like I am crazy, and that was in addition to having to deal with a body that was on the verge of shutting down.

                          I have since gone the route of (mostly) self-diagnosis and alternative medicine, in the attempt to fill in the huge gap unfulfilled by the conventional medical system, and am now so much more used to the disbelieving and judgmental attitude by people all around. Really, thank goodness for the Internet, as well as the availability of alternative practitioners, although I am aware they are also happy to take my money.

                          I don't think I have Celiac's (yet), but am open to the possibility that GF (as well as dairy free) may help solve the rest of the puzzle, now that I have managed to put most of those attacks under control but still not feeling well in general. When I am well enough to go out, I use professional-quality makeup to hide the scars on my face and put colour on my cheeks, and try to act like I have more energy and not as sick as I am (don't we all?) And since I have been so sick that I am now terribly thin, I am afraid that a lot of the judgmentalism has to do with that people are mistaking me for one of those vain, diet types judging by my appearance.

                          Completely agree that having certain foods/lifestyle choices being associated with a diet fad ruins it for those who genuinely need them. And while I now personally believe that self diagnosis, or at least self-validation ON TOP of doctors' diganoses, is becoming a necessity, those who casually make these claims for other motives (attention, convenience, diet etc.) makes the rest of us less credible.

                          I am looking forward to getting more insight from this thread.

                        3. It does seem to have become a trendy problem, but it's "popularity" is a boon to those suffering from Celiac Sprue disease (my dad was dx'd some 15+ years ago). GF food products are more readily available - they used to only be available in health food stores at double or triple the cost of their conventional counterparts.

                          With varying symptoms, it's a difficult disease to even suspect, but via biopsy, the disease is confirmed by evidence of compromised villi in the small intestine. Worst case can literally be deadly to some (as agoodbite eluded), others only have to avoid directly ingesting the gluten product. In either case, you have to educate yourself to read labels and know which products gluten "hides" in. ex: some vinegars should not be consumed and vinegar is found in mustard, among other things. Fillers can make some cheeses, meats, etc taboo. One of my dad's biggest disappointments was finding flour included in Campbell's Tomato Soup - ok, so he's not the chowish of sorts! ;)

                          If celiac, it can be a real social AND personal bitch, as you can't turn it on and off to suit trendy fashion or cravings. All that said, I would add that while celiac sprue affects the vili, there are those who suffer with allergies to gluten and that's a different issue.

                          The following web-site may answer more specific questions. Hope that helps answer some of your questions.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: blynk

                            "It does seem to have become a trendy problem, but it's "popularity" is a boon to those suffering from Celiac Sprue disease (my dad was dx'd some 15+ years ago). GF food products are more readily available - they used to only be available in health food stores at double or triple the cost of their conventional counterparts."

                            A few paragraphs up, there is a discussion about how people who choose to eat gluten free because of a personal choice versus a medical issue can make it more difficult for the latter group. You make an interesting point because the recent popularity (for whatever reason) of these gluten free diets has certainly made products more readily available. To those with celiac or allergies, do you think the greater availability of products helps balance out any negativity from restaurants that might not take your requests as seriously? Or do you get so adept at following the required diet that buying groceries gets pretty routine and easy after a while, so it doesn't matter.

                            1. re: iluvtennis

                              "Or do you get so adept at following the required diet that buying groceries gets pretty routine and easy after a while, so it doesn't matter."
                              well, i can't speak for anyone else but that certainly holds true for me...and though i don't buy much packaged food aside from condiments and seasonings, i still read labels religiously because companies change products *all* the time and don't necessarily call it out anywhere on the package.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Agree wholeheartedly, except the easy part. I find it increasingly hard to quickly locate the ingredient list on the packaging, with the font constantly getting smaller and getting more obscured among all the graphics and marketing literature that gives no meaning to what the product actually is. You can often see me at the grocery aisles, staring at a product and frantically turning it around all its six sides, trying to spot the ingredient list in the least time possible.

                                1. re: tarteaucitron

                                  I keep a pocket magnifying glass with me - the labeling is very hard to get a quick read on otherwise. At least for these eyes!

                                  1. re: meatn3

                                    It was not too long ago that I approached the idea as a joke. Now, I just need to find a scratch-resistant, break-resistant model that attaches to my key chain!

                                    EDIT: grammatical

                                    1. re: tarteaucitron

                                      When you find one, let me know where to get one, too.

                                      Last time I needed to buy a new cell phone battery, I had to stop a nearby Marine and ask him to tell me what model I had in my phone. The print was too tiny for me to read.

                              2. re: iluvtennis

                                I'll take the popularity any day. At least I can get the flours I want to bake with these days. I can avoid the restaurants that will be lazy with me.

                            2. I have a friend who eats gluten-free, inexplicably, as an effort to lose weight. Not low-carb, not the "glycemic index" thing, but GF. So... white rice yes, whole wheat bread no, apparently? ;)

                              I have another friend who has been diagnosed with celiac since he was a small child -- his mother has it and recognized the symptoms right away. He lives overseas now, and is one of the skinniest buggers I've ever set eyes on, because truly GF food is so stinking tough to find. He's truly grateful for the sort of faddishness that drove my other friend to a GF diet, because it means that, due to high demand, food he can eat is becoming more widely available all the time.

                              Regarding whether it was present 10+ years ago, I wonder if people who were just called "fragile," and mysterious childhood deaths, can be traced to diseases like celiac that didn't have a name 50 or 100 years ago but did in fact exist? I think about characters in novels (who were surely based on real people and experiences) who dealt with constant pain, looked perpetually undernourished and emaciated, and died young.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: LauraGrace

                                GF diets are actually fairly common in places like England, Australia and South Africa.

                                1. re: LauraGrace

                                  "He lives overseas now, and is one of the skinniest buggers I've ever set eyes on, because truly GF food is so stinking tough to find."
                                  well, truly GF *packaged* or restaurant foods may be difficult to find, but there are a zillion and one naturally GF foods he could potentially eat.

                                  re: your friend who's doing it to lose weight, that's just absurd. it kills me when some of us are forced to live like this, and others treat it like some trendy fad.

                                  and as a general response to everyone who asked/commented about the recent increase in occurrence/incidence of Celiac Sprue and gluten intolerance, i think it's a combination of factors. for one thing, as awareness increases, so does the likelihood of proper diagnosis - i was, as it turns out, MISdiagnosed with a host of other digestive disorders for most of my life - i didn't find out i had Celiac until a few years ago when i was 35! and i think the other major issue is the ubiquity of gluten in the modern [particularly Western] diet. we're dealing with an autoimmune situation here, and i truly believe that for some people, constantly assaulting and overloading the body with inflammatory glutenous foods eventually compromises its ability to process & metabolize them.

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    The big problem is that he lives in a country with a VERY bread-based diet, and the other problem is that he's a 22-year-old bachelor whose cooking skills are as limited as most guys his age. Eating out is cheap but often a no-go, and eating in limits his options to what he can cook.

                                    I seriously facepalmed about my friend's GF "weight-loss" diet when she told me Her reasoning is that she's a carb fiend, to which I couldn't stop myself replying, "Rice and potatoes aren't carbs?"

                                    That's an interesting point about the modern, western diet.

                                    1. re: LauraGrace

                                      "I seriously facepalmed..."
                                      LOL! love it :)

                                      tell your 22-year-old friend to learn how to prepare simple grilled or broiled fish and meat, quinoa, rice, potatoes, and basic vegetables. nuts, seeds, and avocado are a terrific way for him to sneak in some calorie-dense nutrition, and he should always keep PB or almond butter on hand. oh, and *if* he can tolerate dairy (which many Celiacs can't), there's always yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese, etc.

                                      i'm curious, where does he live?

                                        1. re: LauraGrace

                                          wow. he could really eat well if he knew what to do with the ingredients! seafood, meat, beans & legumes, rice, nuts, stuffed vegetables, yogurt, cheese, fruit....

                                          i adore Turkish cuisine.

                                2. In a nutshell, it's getting more diagnosed, and so more notoriety, and some ding dongs will always jump on a bandwagon. But go read how common celiac is, and how late people are diagnosed in life. Go read about how Italy and Ireland (and I think Brazil) are already clear on gluten issues in their populations, and gluten-free labeling and alternatives are not trendy, they're just there.

                                  I'm gluten free. Medically diagnosed. I'm incredibly thankful to have been born in a time where I wouldn't have just wasted away as a child due to celiac or gotten myself a belly full of colon cancer because I kept eating something that poisoned me. It really, really irks me to have people raise an eyebrow at me when I ask a server if something has gluten. If you want to pick on people for looking for the next best fad, pick something else. I feel reborn with my new diet.

                                  15 Replies
                                  1. re: Vetter

                                    I think what the OP was getting at is similar to what others on these boards have discussed to death with allergies. Obviously allergies and celiac disease are real. The question was if the drastic increase in people claiming they have these auto-immune problems is due to better resources to diagnose the problem or because some people want to jump on a new fad band wagon. I lived with someone who did not have celiac but definitely had trouble digesting gluten. He'd be in the bathroom forever and a day if he gave in and had even a few bites of bread. I've tried eating gluten free bagels, pasta, etc and trust me- they're not that good, and many are actually horrid. The most passable are the gf waffles. Also, they're not that healthy and definitely will not help you lose weight; tapioca and white rice flour lack a special ingredient of fiber. Personally, I am thankful that there is more awareness and options to test for these problems (and they are real problems). At the same time, it's an unfortunate reality that many people will automatically assume that any new diet fad is the next best thing without fully understanding it or taking the time to do the research. This is exacerbated by grocery stores and restaurants catering to these people. But because these are real problems, a restaurant should always give the customer the benefit of the doubt. By the same token, anyone who lies about having celiac or a deadly peanut allergy just for the attention is a real a*****e.

                                    1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                      Yes Nicole summed it up very well.

                                      One good side effect others mentioned is that although not everyone is buying gluten free products is diagnosed with celiac disease... it creates a bigger market for these products and true sufferers are happy to have more products available to them.

                                      Though i think the best would be for tests to be accessible to all so that some don't miss-diagnose themselves as gluten intolerant. The test, here in Canada, 3 years ago, was not easy to have done and costly. I am not aware of any advancement, but i think a real test is a better alternative then just cutting stuff from your diet to make your own until you find something that works.

                                      1. re: SourberryLily

                                        SbL, I don't know about testing for allergies and/or intolerance to gluten, but years ago, the only way to dx celiac was by biopsy of the small intestine. I was just tested a month or so ago by blood work. It came back negative on all, but had it come back positive, I believe the next step is to confirm with the biopsy. That is the "process" as it went with me. Surely the blood work wouldn't be cost prohibitive??? Given what my dad went through in order to "discover" CS (15 or so years ago) and what I was recently told by both my PCP and Gastrologist, a specimen cannot be used for dx.

                                        You may have your friend re-check about the blood work. I think it's only become relied upon in recent years, so 3 years ago, it may not have been available. It's called simply "The Celiac Disease Panel" which checks: for Transglutaminase Antibody, Gliadin Antibody and Immunoglobulin A

                                        1. re: blynk

                                          Lots of people come through clean on the panel but show damage. That's why there is an increasing push to screen first through other means. Or to just do an elimination diet and go from there.

                                          1. re: Vetter

                                            Vetter, I know that there are strong opinions concerning testing. My gastrologist and the Celiac (dot) websites that I've reviewed state the blood test to be the current, relied starting point in dx. Conversely, my dad swears the only definitive test is the biopsy. I'm not sure where insurance companies line up, but I'd guess the less expensive of the two, ie, blood work. The following acknowledges both positive and negative aspects of each "test":

                                            As to doing an elimination diet, it takes about 6 months to cleanse your body of residual gluten. That's a lot of will power to exert only to find you still have all symptoms at the end of that period. And that's not to mention the education process in learning about all the "hidden" aspects of ingredients containing gluten. If within the budget, I'd definitely opt for one of the testing processes.

                                          2. re: blynk

                                            Two three years ago, my friend's test required her to mail a sample of her excrement to a United States lab (unsure where). No blood work or other tests available here could tell her why she was becoming ill when she ate. They might have mailed her blood, I am not aware of that... just that the nature of the test was kind of gross and left an impression.

                                            I assume it is easier to have the test done today and perhaps other techniques , but i do not know. I hope they can now analyze it through blood alone... i pity the poor lab assistant who had to run those tests!

                                        2. re: NicoleFriedman

                                          Nicole, one foodstuff that is healthier than rice or tapioca flour is chickpea or gram flour. Since it is milled, its glucaemic index is higher than whole chickpeas, but better than rice flour, and it is rich in protein and somewhat rich in fibre.

                                          I have the same kind of problem with cow's milk. I had a very serious milk allergy as a small child - as soon as I was weaned, thank mum that she breast-fed me at first, which was not so common in the postwar years. As in hives inside and out, and respiratory distress, as well as the disturbing complaints mentioned by the intolerant. I confess to sometimes claiming to be "allergic" to cow's milk, simply because not everyone understands what a food intolerance means and could well think I just mean I dislike it intensely. I don't think I'm harming people with a lethal allergy by doing so, on the contrary, this makes products they and I can eat more accessible. I'm always careful to specify what I can and cannot eat. Ironically, the fatter a dairy product is, the less problem it causes me - in that respect of course, this is not to mention high-fat dairy being fattening or overly rich in dietary cholesterol.

                                          1. re: lagatta

                                            What you wrote about garbanzo flour is true, I've experimented with it to death and have come to the conclusion that it will always leave a strange, not so pleasant taste in my mouth. Chestnut flour and millet taste much better to me. (Though millet is not good for some highly sensitive people, some can tolerate it).

                                          2. re: NicoleFriedman

                                            And I took a shot at that question -- I think it's getting more diagnosed. Few people are going to stick with the diet if they don't have to.

                                            I encounter plenty of restaurants that don't give me the benefit of the doubt, and don't even bother to pay attention when I try to educate them. Seriously. A server at the most well known fine dining establishment in my county of 200,000 told me she could pop my meat back on the grill to fix the gluten on it. And after beating the horse TO DEATH last week I got fed soy sauce. I'd kill for a few places that catered to a GF diet.

                                            1. re: Vetter

                                              Vetter, i feel your pain. i once had a server at an expensive NY-area steakhouse - after going through my *entire* spiel about gluten, flour & wheat - bring out the lobster tail i ordered with a pile of monstrous onion rings propped up on it. when i asked him what they were doing on the plate, he told me they come with the lobster and just hadn't bothered to mention it. i reminded him about the gluten issue. his response? "But there's no flour on them, just breading."

                                              i, too, wish there were restaurants that catered to a GF diet...which is the only reason i bit the bullet and actually applied/auditioned for a TV competition show last year - the winner gets the backing to open 3 locations of their concept across the country, and mine was for an eco-conscious, 100% GF (and allergy aware) restaurant. obviously i didn't make it onto the show, but i'm determined to find a way to make those restaurants happen someday!

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                ghg, that's my dream too! I think it is the wave of the future!

                                                1. re: kamorgans

                                                  if only you were here in the US, we could join forces & try to make it happen together :)

                                              2. re: Vetter

                                                Vetter, not all soya sauce contains gluten. You probably know that, but others should too. I have a friend who carries hers around with her.

                                                good health, there is such a restaurant here in Montréal. It is GF and also excludes the most common allergens. However they cook with canola oil - which one of my friends is very allergic to!

                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                  Thanks lagatta. Yeah, I know, but I lost the restaurant-choice derby that day, and we had Japanese. I usually bring my own soy if I have notice!

                                                  GHG, oh, keep trying! I'll get on a place to come visit! Hitchhike, even!

                                                  1. re: Vetter

                                                    i will, i promise :) i'm determined to make it happen somehow!