Dear Media (who’ve written negative articles on the gluten-free diet),
It has come to my attention numerous times over the past year that you are really not a fan of the gluten-free lifestyle. You openly mock us in articles and insist that those of us who actually live a more health-filled life abstaining from gluten are somehow mistaken about what this diet can do for us. You openly pour more fuel on the fire for unsupportive individuals who think that getting sick from gluten is all in one’s head.
I’d like to take this moment to openly inquire why it is that you feel so compelled to put down our personal positive experiences, what you have to gain and lose from me (or anyone else for that matter) personally being gluten-free, and why you can’t just support the gluten-free community on our collective journey to be healthy in whatever way we see fit.
I acknowledge that understanding the unique experience of having digestive difficulties, let alone an autoimmune condition that threatens your livelihood, might be tricky to explain especially if you don’t suffer with any of these conditions nor know anyone else personally who does. But I can tell you from my own personal journey, those who I’ve coached and others whom I’ve spoken with about their own story that being constantly sick is no fun. It ruins your day, meals, relationships, social life, family traditions, and ability to work out and focus at your place of employment. You can’t take trips or enjoy an evening at someone else’s home. And these ‘problems’ just scratch the surface for some really wonderful people who feel like their lives have become a daily waking hell.
Sure, poking fun at us might get you more views and comments and ‘likes’, but ultimately you feed an incredibly unproductive conversation that only stands to validate the feelings of those who see supporting someone with a gluten issue as the biggest pain in the butt. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve personally been told that ‘it’s all in my head’, not just from friends and certain family members, but even doctors. To those non-believers, my husband will loudly testify to how much gluten really is an issue for me if my word is, for whatever reason, not enough. I can also put you in touch with many others who share my own plight if you need further collaboration.
We can all certainly agree that certain individuals and business owners have been mis-quoted by you stating things about the gluten-free diet that are NOT accurate. Most importantly, it’s not a diet that will guarantee weight-loss nor should it be used for such purposes unless one suspects that it’s causing inflammation. However, any individual is allowed the right to determine for him or herself if a problem is actually there. They need not have celiac disease in order to give it a try.
Furthermore, I personally don’t appreciate your mis-informed suggestions that going gluten-free will somehow create nutritional deficiencies. Every time this point is made in an article, you talk about how one will miss out on fortified foods that contain essential nutrients. For the record, fortified foods are overly processed versions of real food which required nutrients to be replaced after they were stripped away. The fact that you are suggesting that people must eat fortified food implies that the real food (like veggies, non-glutenous grains, fruit, meat, nuts, seeds, etc) are somehow not good enough since, you know, we can eat ALL of those things while being gluten-free. Plus, I’d love to offer my own bloodwork up as a scientific example of how you can still be healthy.
So in the future, please consider the real point of your attacks. I know that it’s your job to investigate both sides, but if you really paid any attention to the food-based conversations being had in this great nation, you’d know that each person is not meant to eat the same way. AND that it’s better if we didn’t. Our unique genetic codes, distinct familial heritages, individual health circumstances, and ways of living vary so greatly that it’s really not worth the energy to fit square pegs into rounds holes.
A better place to begin would be the initiation of a dialog about being gluten-free AND eating healthy. That’s why I began Gluten Free School — to show the world that it is totally possible to be healthy in a way that just happens to be gluten-free. And I know plenty of other brilliant people blazing trails in the gluten-free world that feel exactly the same way. So, please stop marginalizing what has tremendously enhanced the lives of millions of people and give us a fair shake, if you must.
I think many of us would appreciate your understanding.
Found of Gluten Free School
Jennifer – a well-reasoned, heart-felt letter. Thank you so much for putting in words the frustrations all of us living gluten-free … of necessity, not to lose weight … feel daily. My favorite line: “The fact that you are suggesting that people must eat fortified food implies that the real food (like veggies, non-glutenous grains, fruit, meat, nuts, seeds, etc) are somehow not good enough since, you know, we can eat ALL of those things while being gluten-free.” Amen!
Thanks Jules! I appreciate your response and I wanted to add my two cents even if it never reaches the computers of those who are writing articles like this. It’s just not fair how much bad press is out there and the consequence of it all.
This is brilliant, just brilliant. I am going to promote this on my gluten free curation site. I have been stewing over this topic for some time now. Here’s a link to my complaining about a recent NPR story:
@MillerP (on Twitter)
Wonderfully written article Jennifer. I do hope that it reaches the computers of the knuckle heads who put us with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity down every day. Thank you for taking the time to write it and being an advocate for us.
I hate when they say GF food is bad or doesn’t taste good. I think people don’t realize a lot of what they do eat is not made with gluten. I also not big on the processed food that is GF ..some of it is way too heavy & high in calories.
THANK YOU!!! I have been so frustrated with the media and their continual badgering those of us who need to be gluten free. I think it only instigates aquaintances, friends and family to minimize our need to be gluten free. They don’t understand and with getting their (mis)information from the media justifies their opinion, that I am gluten free for the attention. Just recently I was on a retreat where a woman whom I just met took the gluten free bread the host put out for those of us who are gluten free stating “oh, I’m not gluten free but why not try it. I like trying new things. It’s not like anyone really has to eat that way so it must be a preference.” I informed her that I had to eat that way or be sick for the entire event. The host couldn’t believe it so she plated our food for the rest of the weekend. Bless her!
Again thank you for being an advocate for all of us who aren’t gluten free because the media has decided it is a new fad!
Thanks for sharing your knowledge! People truly don’t understand how the quality of life is affected for those of us that NEED to eat GF… and I wouldn’t wish those experiences on anyone! Thx again, Jennifer!
thank you, jennifer. the media needs to understand that we are capable of making healthy choices on a GF diet; that it includes just as many vegetables and healthy protiens as a non GF diet. many of us feel better when we don’t eat gluten. some of us get healthier. i have lost 56 lbs, and gone off of 3 blood pressure meds, 3 antidepressants, a cholesterol med, a sleeping pill and several pain meds. my fibromayalgia is all but forgotten (until i get glutened), and best of all, i have kept this weight off for several years. will you lose weight on a GF diet? you will if you have gluten sensitivity and if you skip some of the GF goodies!
This article is well written. For years I was diagnosed with ibs and wondered why after eliminating fatty foods, consuming less fiberous foods and following a strict probiotic routine I wasn’t seeing any results. I would have days spent on the commode in pain. Hours in the bed with cramping and nausea. Not a way anyone wants to live, especially me…a mother of 2 kids. A friend told me 6 weeks ago…I wonder if you have a gluten intolerance or allergy because many ppl diagnosed with ibs in fact have gluten issues. Well low and behold after 2 days without gluten in my diet I noticed a change. No more pains, no gas, no diarrhea daily. After 6 weeks now I’m feeling so much better. I go Monday for formal testing. But this is not a fad its working for me. Thank goodness for that friends suggestion. Screw the media.