Friday, March 28, 2014

The many shades of gluten-free eaters

The Wall Street Journal ran an article titled 'At Restaurants, Gluten-Free Is a Tough Recipe' in mid-December, 2013. It gave some good insights on what restaurants are doing to promote their gluten-free offerings. Also, over 175 readers posted comments with many shades of association to being gluten-free.(

Shade #1.  A few of these posters or their loved ones have Celiac disease (defined this way: "...About two million to three million Americans, or nearly 1% of the population, suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten interferes with the absorption of nutrients, according to the Center for Celiac Research & Treatment in Boston.") 

Shade #2. More posters have a sensitivity to gluten which is also known as Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity - or NCGS (described this way: "...The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness estimates that another 18 million Americans have a gluten sensitivity, meaning they experience diarrhea, anemia and other symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, but lack the antibodies and intestinal damage found in those with the disease.") 

Shade #3. Some posters just choose not to eat foods with gluten because of the inherent carbohydrates that they feel are not healthful for their diet.

Shade #4. A couple were crack-pots - the kind that will jump on any bandwagon to arbitrarily delete a food group for reasons of vanity or need to follow what they consider a 'hot trend'.

Reading through all the comments and researching other news items on gluten-free topics in the last six months, I found a disturbing development:  the crackpots - the most vocal with a disproportionate amount of press were actually marginalizing the legitimate need of many of us.  Personally, I have seen more than my fair share of eye-rolls when I tell someone I cannot eat food with gluten in it.

It occured to me that on many issues in our lives - and going even bigger, in our world - we allow the crackpots suck up the face-time on T.V. and the bandwidth on the internet.  

Regardless of the shade of gluten-free eater you or your loved ones may be, we each have an opportunity to be remain compassionate and empathetic to those whose needs may be different than ours in every aspect of our lives.  And thankfully, the crackpots have a short attention span. 


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