The Ignorance about Gluten Free Living.

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Since I started Pretty Little Celiac, I use a RSS feeder to send me articles relating to gluten-free and celiac disease to make sure I stay up to date on current trends and studies, but also to just see what the buzz is in the media. Today I woke up to the usual set of articles about gluten-free living and how the gluten-free “diet” isn’t necessary for most people and others that make it challenging for us to fight the gluten-free battle.

But, one article in particular caught my eye. Titled “Why the Billion-Dollar Gluten-free Industry is Secretly Laughing at All of Us.” I was intrigued. Were these new marketing techniques being used? Are there concerns with labeling I need to know about? Nope. None of these things were even addressed in the article by Dana Baaardsen from iVillage.com

The article started out fine at first talking about celiac and gluten-free popularity and then mentioned a blogger with celiac disease who came out against people eating gluten-free when they don’t have to. But then she went into a few sentences about gluten-free that really upset me. For instance, here is how she ended the article:

Here are some of the more ridiculous gluten-free products we found — mainly because most of them barely had detectable traces of gluten in them to begin with — if at all. Seriously, just eat more veggies:

Ridiculous? Really?

She goes on to identify a few products like sausages, potato chips, fruit snacks, make-up and juice while making outrageous comments like, “you shouldn’t be eating your make up anyway” and “This gluten-free stuff isn’t so hard after all.”

Wait… What? You wrote a 500 word article about gluten-free living, found a few products online that had a “gluten-free” label on them and decided to not only make a mockery about how I (and thousands of others) have to live but that it’s “easy” because you found a few junk food items that had the words “gluten-free” on them?

I am sick and tired of reading articles like this. I am tired of ignorant people writing and saying things when they have no idea what they are talking about.

Gluten-free living is easy? Well guess what Dana, I challenge you to eat gluten-free for 30 consecutive days and see how “easy” it is. Go to parties with your friends and watch them eat and drink while you sit there starving because you can’t have beer or party foods. Go to weddings with your family and eat a Lara bar out of your purse because the only thing to eat at the wedding is filled with breadcrumbs and sauces with gluten. Go to eat where you get poisoned by something that makes you sick for a whole week and disrupts your entire life.

THEN you can write a truthful article about living gluten-free. THEN you might recognize why it’s important to have “gluten-free” labeling on foods so you can easily navigate the grocery store and find things safe for you to eat.

But I guess until then, you CAN have your cake and eat it too.

Rebecca

Comments

  1.  Amy Cox says:

    Are you kidding me? Easy???? Any traces of gluten in ANYTHING makes me sick for weeks! When I found out I had Celiac Disease I was 31 years old. I was mysteriously ill for my entire life before. Hospitalizations, tests, broken bones, organ damage, and even Psych treatment when people could not find what was wrong. I had Osteoporosis from not absorbing Calcium properly in my bones, also all of my teeth are damaged. The Calcium that did not make it to my bones and teeth had collected in the arteries of my kidneys and caused them to almost fail. I have been in terribly painful treatment for the calcification of my kidneys FOR YEARS since. I also had high risk pregnancies and two of the three of my kids have food allergies (no coincidence that kid number three, the one I was gluten free during the pregnancy, is my healthiest with no allergies). This is of course only secondary to the horrid damage to my intestines. I have to work very hard to make sure I absorb vitamins. Eat more veggies? I would LOVE to! I love veggies. Unfortunately when your Gastrointestinal Tract is damaged, raw veggies are not easy to eat. And when you cook them the vitamin content is lowered so you have to eat more. Also, “you shouldn’t be eating your makeup”. Did you pay attention to your Science classes in school??? Read about the skin and how we absorb what we put on it. That sentence alone just shows your unbelievable ignorance. Seriously, basic human anatomy. Pick up a book in the children’s section if the big words confuse you. Read about the intestines and the skin and how we absorb vitamins. Pay special attention to how the intestines are like layers of screens with small holes for vitamins to go into our bodies AND IF INFLAMED…….they don’t. They go to waste and if your kidneys don’t work well…..they stick inside of them. I could go on and on. But the last thing I want to say is, writing an article in an attempt to put down people with a medical condition that you CLEARLY have not even researched is a despicable way to live. And it is one of the biggest problems with this country. Good luck with life! You will attract great people with that kind of attitude! I prefer positive people who offer help and ones who, when they don’t understand something, they don’t assume they do and judge.

     

  2.  Lisa says:

    This makes me insanely mad! She has not a clue what it’s like and people who just eat gf for the fad don’t either! Unless you are one of the people who gets ridiculously sick for a week and have to miss work, school etc you have no idea. When a cute guy buys you a drink at the bar and you have to ask what’s in it because you don’t want to be sick all night and they look at you like a freak. Or when you go to a restaurant and the waitress asks you “gluten what?” Until you have lived the life of a true celiac then you have NO idea how hard it is. And you go ahead and eat vegetables from the time your 15 until you die, then we’ll talk.

     

  3.  McKenna says:

    Thank you for this. I have been recently diagonosed with Celiac. While some of my family has been supportive and understanding, not all have. I am constantly being told that a little won’t hurt me… Although I am new, I am doing fairly well and don’t really want to take chances, I know a slip up will happen from time to time, but I don’t need my family, friends and co-workers thinking a little won’t hurt or that this isn’t really a problem.

     

  4.  Alexandra Berger says:

    Thank you, Rebecca.
    I’ve had celiacs since i was 3, but didn’t really know about it until i was 26, about 4 years ago. fortunately, most people in my life are very supportive of my “diet” and try to accommodate me as best they can. It is so important to have people talking about our side of the story and the struggles we face everyday. Thank you for your work to broaden people’s understanding of eating gluten-free.
    Alex

     

  5.  Suzanne says:

    This is your very best post. Ever. Thank you

     

  6.  jeanne says:

    How is it that a writer who is clearly clueless can get published. Her arogance and lack of knowledge is pathetic. The funny thing is, it seems to me that she inadvertently made a point she didn’t realize she was making….why is it “special” that meat & potato chips & juice needed to be labeled gluten-free? Um, because too many of these products that should be – often aren’t. It’s ridiculous how food manufacturers use wheat/gluten when its not necessary – its in everything (because of its addictive properties perhaps?). This is torture for those of us living with celiac! I don’t buy the gf fad-diet-thing, there is nothing cool about gf lifestyle. But I do believe the over-use of wheat/gluten is unnatural & causing a problem for countless others who are finding they can’t tolerate gluten – or others, like moms I know who are going gluten-free because their kids are suffering with unexplained health conditions that seem to respond to a gf diet (such as eczema, adhd, migraines, other autoimmune disorders, etc).

     

  7.  Dana Baardsen, Author says:

    Hi Rebecca, I’m including a response to your response! I’ve never done that before, but since you have used a corner of your website to address my article, I figured I would do the same to shed some light on these issues. I think it’s important. Thank you.

    http://danaelisebaardsen.com/5/post/2013/03/gluten-free-a-response.html

    Readers: This is a response to an upset blogger who read one of my fad-diet critiques on iVillage.com. She took the time to blog how she felt about my article on her website, so I am taking the time to kindly answer questions she raised and also provide some insight into who I am as a young journalist.

    Hi Rebecca from Pretty Little Celiac,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my article. I have taken the time to read and respond to yours. I hope you read my response with an open, grudge-free mind, as my writing has really been taken out of context. I know several other readers will take my article out of context as well, so thank you for giving me the opportunity to reply.

    My relationship with celiac disease:

    I do not live gluten-free, nor do I medically have to. I have studied Nutrition and Food Science for four years (this May I obtain my degree) and of course have studied the mechanisms of celiac disease. Not only is it a frustrating lifestyle to adhere to, but also a very serious medical condition. As stated in my article, “Gluten-intolerance (or celiac disease) is a legitimate medical condition and frustrating condition that irritates the small intestine and causes symptoms which range from diarrhea to nutrient malabsorption.” ßThough it is MUCH more than that.

    My response to my article and yours:

    This article posted on iVillage.com was to get people talking about certain studies recently conducted, which brought awareness to the fact that there is a much greater amount of people living gluten-free, compared to the amount of people who are medically diagnosed. In addition, companies may be taking advantage of the fact that there is a market for gluten-free foods.

    When large websites, like iVillage create content, the ideas are run through teams of editors and then assigned to writers, like myself. My content is then filtered through my top editors and then produced onto the website.

    This topic was assigned to me, as was the layout of addressing certain “gluten-free” products, which wouldn’t make sense for a NON-CELIAC to invest in. So of course, for someone who has celiac disease these products are great…but in the context that there are several individuals investing in gluten-free when they don’t necessarily have to, they may need to just make better food choices in general.

    Let me just give you an example of how these things work. I had inserted a line, which read, “So before letting the green flow out of your pocket, let it flow onto your plate (in the form of fresh veggies) and see how your body responds, before investing in a full-fledged gluten-free diet plan.”

    ^This line appeared right before the listing of gluten-free products, which a non-celiac may not benefit from investing in if it’s just processed foods in general which are making them feel down.

    However, one of my top-editors removed that line and inserted: “Here are some of the more ridiculous gluten-free products we found — mainly because most of them barely had detectable traces of gluten in them to begin with — if at all. Seriously, just eat more veggies:”

    I am responsible for this line, as it is under my name and so I am apologizing for the part of your response where you reference this line and include, “But then she went into a few sentences about gluten-free that really upset me.”

    I do not like upsetting anyone. EVER! If you read any blog post directly posted by me…it is always written with knowledge, love, and health in mind. I work with editors who edit like this too! However, especially for media-driven websites, my posts are given a certain personality. My diet-critic posts on iVillage tend to be written with research, but also with opinion, and sarcasm…which is normally turned up a notch (or few) by top-editors. I know it is bound to make people ANGRY.

    For example, I wrote an article regarding a diet, which originated in Britain. While I was brainstorming different words to describe a British individual, the term “Brits” popped into my head. Before I used it, I researched it and found that it can actually be considered racist, so I purposely didn’t include it. However, after the article was filtered through my editors, the term was inserted and there were people commenting how I’m borderline racist. The worst feeling ever!

    I work for iVillage though. If I said writing diet-critiques was my favorite thing to do, I’d be lying! I don’t like to criticize anyone, but I handle the assignment to the best of my ability. For iVillage, I’ve written lovely beauty and health articles, which I treasure… and I also work for iVillage by producing other writer’s content onto the site. I never turn down an assignment they give me, because I value my position there. Overall, iVillage is an amazing resource for women.

    I am sorry you have struggled with celiac disease, and you feel there are OTHER writers out there who ignorantly bash the condition. That’s unfair. You are doing a great service with your website by spreading knowledge about celiac disease.

    As far as your challenge is concerned: I have challenged myself with restricted food-choices, like vegetarianism for one year after eating meat my whole life, but never would I subject myself to gluten-free living if I didn’t have to. I know it’s hard. But believe me, I am a journalist at heart, and if any editor ever asked me to live gluten-free for 30 days and document it, I would! I’ve pitched to do it with a juice-only diet for 30 days over a year ago, but the interest wasn’t high enough. That’s the type of reporting I would really love to do.

    I’ve heard of those with celiac disease who like that gluten-free is gaining awareness, because it offers more food choices for them. I’ve also heard others with celiac disease who can’t stand that the trend has gained popularity because it is making their products more expensive, and restaurants don’t take it as seriously because they just want to fit into the “trend”…so some people feel they are more likely to get sick eating out from contamination.

    One more note I’ve made for you: You addressed my article, “Why the Billion-Dollar Gluten-free Industry is Secretly Laughing at All of Us,” and you continue to share, “I was intrigued. Were these new marketing techniques being used? Are there concerns with labeling I need to know about? Nope. None of these things were even addressed in the article by Dana Baaardsen from iVillage.com”

    The FDA better not be mislabeling gluten-free! If it is labeled gluten-free, it SHOULD be. I have read about factories/companies producing foods with and without gluten within the same factory, but fears of cross-contamination shouldn’t rest within the realms of labeling. That fear, as you know, should stick to eating out at restaurants. (Right now, my labeling fears reside with GMO and the new politics regarding Monsanto…ugh!).

    But to follow up with you, (within the limited time) I was given to write the article, I interviewed a Food Scientist about the cost of gluten-free foods. (This was also cut by my top-editors)

    An excerpt from my first submission:

    Food Scientist, Dr. John Specchio adds, “Costs of gluten-free foods are higher than regular food products because there is a demand for it.” He continues, “If something is popular, there will be a market for it, which is why they can increase the costs on those products. In addition to that, the food product needs to be reformulated, since they are removing the Gluten. There is a lot of research that goes into creating a product which meets public demand… that costs money too.”

    Discussing Dr. Specchio’s insight on gluten-free food pricing, was to draw light to the fact that these foods tend to be pricier…so if you’re not medically diagnosed, why subject yourself to that?

    I can tell by your response, you had written and posted it with frustration and anger, and I never meant to stimulate that reaction within my readers. The least I could do was offer you (and others) a little insight into who I am, where I come from as a human being and freelancer, the possibility that a brain may be floating around somewhere in my skull, and to remind you why these articles are produced in such a way and that a lot of planning and editing actually goes into them.

    What have I done for the gluten-free community?

    Last year, I worked with a pizzeria in New Jersey to use and continue using gluten free pizza crust and offer gluten-free pasta (even though it’s more expensive and the chefs had a hard time because it takes longer to cook than regular pasta!)

    I also run a women’s health newsletter, and we are working on a gluten-free awareness newsletter right now, and I have run gluten-free awareness articles in the past under that newsletter, all authored by a gluten-free writer.

    If I ever do a gluten-free challenge, you will be the first to know.

    With love,

    Dana

     

  8.  Jess says:

    Here is my response to Dana which iVillage would not let me post:
    “You have done a huge disservice to the 6-8% of American with non celiac gluten sensitivity, in addition to the 1% of us who have Celiac Disease. Although you quote the Univ. of Chicago Center for Celiac Disease’s website, there have been several studies in the last 2 yrs showing that the incidence of non celiac gluten sensitivity is higher than 2-3% (check out Dr. Fasano on http://www.pubmed.gov). There are many with gluten sensitivity, who, due to activation of the innate immune system, have severe reactions to traces of gluten (including a few of my own family members). In addition, it was difficult not to take offense to your comment regarding gluten free cosmetics. Any mother of a child with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity needs to be extremely careful that her lipstick is gluten free.”
    Jess recently posted…Sun Dogs, Celiac, and GratitudeMy Profile

     

  9.  Becky says:

    The post in iVillage is certainly a Passive Aggressive buck shot to the Gluten-free community. The key identifies are as follows:
    1. Address the intended audience as if you have no clue who they might be
    Title suggests the food industry while the article addresses those with celiac’s disease/ gluten intolerant and those who choose to follow this diet without any medical indication of having this condition. The article’s lack of focus jumps from one view point to another leaving the reader with little information.
    2. Use of anthropomorphism
    “Gluten, the protein-complex mainly found in wheat products, has become a recent villain”
    “deflecting our ailments on to poor ol’ gluten”
    3. Stating the obvious
    “We are not discounting that.” This refers to the legitimate medical condition to which the article gives permission for those inflicted to pursue a gluten-free diet.
    4. Suggest highly improbable consequences
    “When someone cuts out “gluten-containing” foods, they experience feeling cleaner, more energized and healthier…but was it really the gluten that was getting them down?” Yes, it is.
    “You were not really eating sausages if your sausages had gluten in them” I suggest you read the labels of the foods you eat and research the different ways gluten is labeled.
    “You shouldn’t be eating your makeup, anyway.” Gluten in eye makeup causes immediate tears and welts after I’ve accidentally used the wrong brand.
    5. Suggests a solution to the problem that patronizes the reader
    “So why in the world would a non-celiac subject themselves to such torture?” Every medical test I’ve had for celiac’s disease has been negative. Yet, on a gluten-free diet I thrive.
    “people keep getting hoodwinked” You suggest consumers are subject to media hype and can not make decisions for food.
    “Seriously, just eat more veggies”

    If the iVillage editors deleted, substituted segments of your article, then may I suggest you post your original article on your website to clear up any misunderstandings towards you. As it stands, this article is inflammatory aimed to ‘anger’ the audience to which you have agreed to participate.

     

  10.  Becky says:

    The post in iVillage is certainly a Passive Aggressive buck shot to the Gluten-free community. The key identifies are as follows:
    1. Address the intended audience as if you have no clue who they might be
    Title suggests the food industry while the article addresses those with celiac’s disease/ gluten intolerant and those who choose to follow this diet without any medical indication of having this condition. The article’s lack of focus jumps from one view point to another leaving the reader with little information.
    2. Use of anthropomorphism
    “Gluten, the protein-complex mainly found in wheat products, has become a recent villain”
    “deflecting our ailments on to poor ol’ gluten”
    3. Stating the obvious
    “We are not discounting that.” This refers to the legitimate medical condition to which the article gives permission for those inflicted to pursue a gluten-free diet.
    4. Suggest highly improbable consequences
    “When someone cuts out “gluten-containing” foods, they experience feeling cleaner, more energized and healthier…but was it really the gluten that was getting them down?” Yes, it is.
    “You were not really eating sausages if your sausages had gluten in them” I suggest you read the labels of the foods you eat and research the different ways gluten is labeled.
    “You shouldn’t be eating your makeup, anyway.” Gluten in eye makeup causes immediate tears and welts after I’ve accidentally used the wrong brand.
    5. Suggests a solution to the problem that patronizes the reader
    “So why in the world would a non-celiac subject themselves to such torture?” Every medical test I’ve had for celiac’s disease has been negative. Yet, on a gluten-free diet I thrive.
    “people keep getting hoodwinked” You suggest consumers are subject to media hype and can not make decisions for food.
    “Seriously, just eat more veggies”

    If the iVillage editors deleted, substituted segments of your article, then may I suggest you post your original article on your website to clear up any misunderstandings towards you. As it stands, this article is inflammatory aimed to ‘anger’ the audience to which you have agreed to participate.

     

  11.  Dave says:

    Easy-yeah sure . when the family stops at krispy kreme for a few and you just watch or vistiing family in a small town usa. cant really eat out with others must prepare , bring or ???

     

  12.  Alex Kinsella says:

    I do a lot of event planning for my job. Since my diagnosis, I make sure to have the caterers include gluten free food and beverage options – not just for myself, but for other celiacs too. Makes a world of difference.