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Gluten-Free: Disease, Diet, or Something In Between?

Gluten-Free: Disease, Diet, or Something In Between?

Iíve been reading quite a few articles lately about the new visibility of the gluten-free lifestyle.† There are those who criticize it as just another diet trend Ė like the low-fat craze in the 90ís, or the obsession with Atkins in the early 2000ís.† On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who point to celiac disease, which is certainly proof that living gluten-free is not just a fad.† But what about those in between?

There certainly seems to be a contingent of the American population that is going gluten-free to emulate celebrities or because marketers have convinced them itís the latest, greatest way to get a toned body.† But I worked briefly in a gluten-free bakery, and the stories I heard from those suffering from celiac disease were really amazing.† People whose lives had been completely turned around but cutting out gluten.† They felt better, returned to a healthy body weight, had more energy, in short, they could live a healthy life again.† For them, cutting out gluten was a biological necessity.

But there is a large group of people who are gluten intolerant but do not have celiac disease.† As Karen Ansel explains in the current issue of O Magazine, many people suffer from, ďa condition called nonceliac gluten sensitivity, which causes CD-like symptoms without the autoimmune component.Ē The fact that nonceliac gluten sensitivity has been largely overlooked represents a larger problem in the mainstream American approach to understanding the body.

A friend of mine is gluten intolerant, and she has explained to me that many doctors, because she didnít have celiac, assumed that there was nothing wrong.† That gluten had no negative impact on her body at all, and that her own understanding of what was going on in her body was wrong.† If you canít see it and easily diagnose it, itís not there.† To be sure, we desperately need medical science, and it has done so many truly amazing things to advance public health.† But itís not the end-all.† We need to remember how to trust ourselves and our intuitive knowledge of our bodies.† If we can do this, not only will we understand the validity of gluten sensitivities, we will also give ourselves the foundation to eat in a way that is both healthy and satisfying, and we will deeply internalize the philosophical grounding for the movement to promote organic food.

Doctors, drug companies, and food corporations Ė though initially intending to make positive contributions to the world Ė sometimes engage in practices that make us distrust ourselves and silence our inner wisdom.† So itís up to us to acknowledge and trust in what we know to be beneficial and true for ourselves.

Going Gluten-Free?
Why the Gluten-Free Industry is Ill-Defined
7 Ways Food Allergies Could Be Beneficial

Read more: Conscious Consumer, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Health, , , ,

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.


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10:17AM PST on Dec 21, 2013


9:34PM PDT on May 4, 2013

thanks for sharing

7:36PM PDT on May 1, 2013

I can definitely tell when I eat gluten, but there are times when I will just because it is my choice. Most times I suffer from bloating, constipation, sore joints. But a gluten full pizza is sometimes worth it! Most gluten free foods are tasteless and very expensive and a rip off.

1:23AM PDT on Oct 13, 2012

So right. We need to learn to trust ourselves in terms of food intolerance.

6:20AM PDT on Apr 18, 2012

Thanks for the info.

12:46AM PDT on Nov 6, 2011

Thank you

2:20PM PDT on Sep 30, 2011


8:22AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

Thanks for the info.

5:35AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

Thanks for the article.

4:36AM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

sigh... everything has gluten/wheat/thickener/emulsifier, etc etc in it. I spend SO much money on g-f breads from health shops or buying/trying out non-wheat flours in DIY bread recipes (that rival the local brick-manufacuring companies!!), that I'd be a millionaire by now if I didn't NEED to eat g-f. I do thank my lucky stars that I don't suffer badly, but I hate the fact that mainstream grocery stores (in RSA) aren't supplying affordable g-f products!

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