Keeping up? Why? Who’s racing?

Why does anyone care what other people eat?  I simply don’t understand how what I eat can possibly have anything to do with what other people eat.  Why do we need to justify our own choices in opposition to things and not simply on their own merits?  There is no need to keep up, this is not a race.

The post I linked above is classic example.  I normally really enjoy this blog.  As you can see he has a way with words and his posts are usually really entertaining.  But this one is based on assumptions, opinions and logical fallacies.  

Yes “Avoiding gluten is essential for people with celiac disease”  and it seems that the prevalence is about 1% of the population who are diagnosed – but did you know that a definitive diagnosis includes an endoscopy where they put a camera down your throat?  While you’re gagging and uncomfortable they will work their way down to your intestines where they will look for villous atrophy and proceed to take at least 4 to 6 biopsies of your intestine to test for damage.  (Might I add that the camera then has to come back up out through your mouth! – what does your intestine make?)   Considering the symptoms of celiac disease, including chronic diarrhea, excess gas, bloating, and abdominal distension, recurrent, painful mouth sores and many others, is it really that surprising that some people just decide that the ‘piece of bread’ isn’t worth it?

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my family

That said, gluten free may well be ‘the new stupid’.  In some ways I agree as I believe that gluten free products are just as bad for you as their gluten loaded counter-parts.  But it’s not my place to tell other people what to do.  All I can do is tell them what works for me.   I really don’t understand why it is considered to be “middle-class hysteria” to try to resolve symptoms like those associated with celiacs disease?  People with gluten intolerance and wheat sensitivities suffer equally distressing symptoms.  Which is beside the point anyway because what other people do has no impact on our own health!!  Even if they aren’t suffering ‘symptoms’ and just jumping on the bandwagon, it’s still none of our business.

Marc’s post then goes on to list “6 issues with going gluten-free when you don’t need to”  which are actually just common logical fallacies:

1) If you ignore gluten, you also ignore his friends like vitamin B, fibre, calcium, iron 

Celiacs have a really hard time getting enough nutrients in from gluten-free products. Wheat alone has so many nutrients (such as the ones listed above) The research showing this far outweighs the bullshit research from rich marketing geniuses promoting health benefits of gluten-free foods. Read more here

The first problem here is with why celiacs are malnourished.  It is not that they aren’t getting nutrients from products containing gluten.  It is because their intestines are so damaged that they are UNABLE to absorb any nutrients from ANY of the food they ingest.

The second problem with this logic is that while it is true that grains (where the gluten is) and their products usually contain vitamin B, fiber, calcium and iron. The amount of these nutrients is relatively low when you compare them to other foods.  It seems it all comes back to the WHO.  Not The Who, but the WHO and their document Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.  From what I can tell the recommendation to eat whole-grains is based almost entirely on the fact that they have a high dietary fiber content (NSP or Non-starch polysaccharide – say that three times fast :/).

However, it seems like a pretty weak argument to base our ‘common knowledge’ on if you consider all of the other possible sources of dietary fiber.  For example, compare a wholegrain english muffin (typical part of a weight watchers breakfast – or any regular diet for that matter) with a bag full of spinach (that is now the base of my husbands morning smoothie) or the complement to my eggs on the weekend.

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Add in these figures and its hard to understand the recommendation at all:

Wholegrain English Muffin (61g)                                          Spinach (248g)
135 Calories                                                                                        65 calories
0% Vitamin A                                                                                     533% Vitamin A
0% Vitamin C                                                                                     133% Vitamin C
18% Calcium (DI)                                                                              28% Calcium (DI)
9% Iron (DI)                                                                                      43% Iron (DI)

I suppose you could argue that the english muffin is healthy if you want to – but you can’t argue that it’s MORE healthy than the spinach.

2) Avoiding gluten won’t increase your energy levels 

There doesn’t need to be any research proving that not eating gluten increases energy levels – it’s a personal experience and it either happens to you or not. Soz.

3) You can convince yourself of pretty much anything 

The human brain is a powerful thing.

Yes – but again, what I do has no impact on your life.  Tell me about what is so awesome about what you eat and how it makes you feel and I might look into it.  Convince me that your way is better!

4) One crouton will impact your gluten levels 

Yes – but if your argument is that you’re missing out on nutrients and fiber then one crouton or one piece of bread still has fewer nutrients in it than spinach, or carrots or almost any other vegetable you can think of – so you might as well have had a salad instead right?

All that said, I don’t mind if you eat grains or gluten – I don’t decide for other people.  I can tell you what I’ve found out about the food – but you’d still have to decide for yourself.

5) My grandma ate gluten and she’s 90 

This guy is 91 and attributes his good health to drinking his own urine…I don’t like to criticize but it’s not really my cup of, um…pee.

Someone else was telling me how great coffee enemas are.  Again, I’ll stick with drinking my morning coffee, but if you were to choose to consume yours in reverse who am I to criticize?

6) People who are gluten-free when they don’t have to be are d$%^s. FACT. 

GlutenfreeI’ve heard the same said about people who fudge data to make pretty looking graphs *cough* Ancel *cough* Keys *cough*

The main reason I am gluten free is that there is absolutely nothing in grains that you can’t get from other foods that do not have the potential negative side effects of consuming grains.  Am I grain free 100% of the time?  Nope.  Should I be?  Maybe.  Is that my call?  Most certainly is!

TL:DR

Please stop with the attacks on people for what they eat.  What someone else eats has absolutely no impact on your health.  If you absolutely HAVE to attack it then please at least do some research and check out your facts before perpetuating the same old tired myths.  There is a LOT of new research coming out concerning grains and their impact on health.  You don’t have to believe all the hype, or the marketing (I agree that most gluten free products are over-processed junkfood anyway) – but it doesn’t make everyone who is ‘gluten free’ stupid.

To Marc specifically:  You seem like a smart guy.  I enjoy your blog (most of the time) and I love the way your write – but please use your powers for good and not evil!  Tell us what you love about your way of eating.  Tell us how good it makes you feel.  Please don’t criticize people who are just trying to do the same as you and improve their health.

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4 thoughts on “Keeping up? Why? Who’s racing?

  1. Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for the informative response – I love a good debate. My primary reason for this blog was to make people laugh… the second was to post thought-provoking material. My post isn’t there to make people feel bad or be negative and I certainly never judge. The post is there to question our society… why are we faced with yet another thing to cut out of our diets… why do we have to further scrutinise ourselves and why are the marketing gurus dictating how we live our lives. Yes there are subjective opinions in this post, but I spent a long, hard time looking for objective data – I couldn’t find any. Finally – why is it my business? Well, I’ve made it my business to try and give people another perspective on dieting in todays world and I hate how people follow trends without real research behind.

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    • but didn’t you just do that? Follow a trend of bashing an idea without knowing much about it?

      You’re clearly smart enough to write a post that questions our society, and why we are faced with another thing to cut out of our diets, without having to resort to name calling and unwarranted criticisms (which is, no offense, pretty much all I got from your post)

      Do you want some links to real research about grains and how some people (and not just celiacs either) react badly to them? I have a bunch.

      As for making it your business to give another perspective on dieting – I don’t feel you did that. You didn’t tell me anything about how great these grains can be and how there is all of this ‘good stuff’ in them that isn’t in other foods (I’ve looked for the science on that too – it doesn’t exist either). I didn’t learn anything other than the fact that you think that people who aren’t celiacs, who don’t eat gluten, are dickheads.

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  2. Pingback: Hangry? | Healthy Intentions (2014)

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