Fad of Gluten-Free Food

Gluten and gluten-free foods were not but a whisper in 2010 and have recently gained popularity amongst the non-celiac community. Even the media has recognized the glamorization of being gluten free in a recent film called “This is the End,” where Seth Rogan says that he’s not eating gluten anymore and that gluten is just all the bad foods you shouldn’t be eating. This satire was added to the film really as a commentary on how our society has little idea about what gluten actually is, but they’ve stopped eating it because someone said “it’s bad for you.”

The New York Times has published different stats about how the increase of revenue recently has skyrocketed on gluten-free foods. Another poll stated that people actually prefer gluten-free foods. Most people in this day and age have been vying for gluten-free options because “it sounds healthy” or they’re trying to cut carbs to lose weight. Substituting these foods with gluten-free foods is not the answer.

It’s also laughable that people think that eating gluten-free food is healthier or will help them lose weight. In reality, some gluten-free foods have more calories or more carbs than the normal stuff. So eating high volumes of those foods will actually do the opposite of the desired effect.

This trend of “going gluten-free” by choice is, in my opinion, one of the most nauseating ones yet. I am intolerant to gluten, much like some are lactose intolerant, so I was told by a licensed physician to stay away from these foods after having my blood tested.

Many of my friends have the opposite end of the spectrum, where they have celiac disease; this means that they will have a very violent and life threatening allergic reaction if they so much as breathe in anything that has gluten in it. These two types of people have to eat gluten-free foods if they want to continue having a comfortable life.

The appeal of gluten-free foods to the general public is that it’s a trend. Not much else about gluten-free nosh is enticing. The grainy texture, the spike in price, the dry and crumbly factor, the fact that the food is usually very dense, and bottom line is it just doesn’t taste as it should. It is perplexing that some people find it more appetizing.

Although I have had some good experiences with some gluten-free foods, it is usually a trade off for an arm and a leg.

The idea that companies can tap in to this desire to be in the “in crowd” is what has caused GF foods to sky-rocket in price as well. It isn’t fair to those that have to eat gluten-free to pay $2 more for crust that’s safe for them.

My proposition? A gluten-free medical card. Sounds outrageous, but hear me out. If someone is told by a medical professional that they should avoid gluten, they could be given a medical card so that when they go to restaurants, the extra fee for the GF option would be waived. People who enjoy it just for the luxury, the esteem, and the taste can go ahead and pay the extra $4.

Sure we can get into an argument about how the restaurant or business is losing money because now they won’t be profiting from carrying the expensive GF alternative; but, this hypothetical situation is more concerned about the well being of the individual instead of turning a profit. Shocking.

In conclusion, if you’re eating gluten-free foods by choice because you think it’ll help you be healthier or lose weight, you have some research to do. If you’re eating it because you think it tastes better, I commend you, but agree to disagree with you. If you’re eating gluten-free because you think it makes you “in the now” or gives you extra cool points, let me know when you’ve decided to leave the sandbox.

 

Jacqueline Rosenberg is a second-year literary journalism and cognitive science major. She can be contacted at jrosenb1@uci.edu.