There are many a meme that go around poking fun at all of the people who claim they can’t have gluten, each of which pretty much has them sounding like whiny little brats that just want their way. It’s interesting. You wouldn’t make fun of someone who can die from peanuts or have horrible digestion issues because of dairy. Why call out the gluten-free followers?
One problem is definitely that a lot of them are just that: followers. Many follow a gluten-free diet. “86 percent of individuals who believed they were gluten sensitive could tolerate it.” Now, this isn’t to say that they might not have minor reactions, such as bloating, headache, or redness of the cheeks. They may have one or all of these, but these are the people who “cheat” every once in awhile because it’s not that bad to have any of the above listed; it’s just uncomfortable.
These dietary gluten eaters are taking a chunk out of the valid issues for those with CD (Celiac Disease) when they carry out their food habits in social settings. Then some will argue, why don’t those with food problems just not eat out? Well, shit, I don’t see anybody telling that to people with peanut allergies. There are an estimated 1.1% of people who are allergic to peanuts in the US general population. Granted it is a highly fatal disease. “Nobody ever died from gluten,” said in mouth-breather voice. NOT TRUE.
Though it is not as fatal as the peanut allergy, “Celiac disease was mentioned on the death certificate in 33 cases but in only 10 was it given as the underlying cause of death.” Those with CD also hold over 1% of the population, but affect nearly 4%-7% of the population in total. What does that even mean?There is another group that is affected by gluten and wheat, but not as severe or always as detectable as in those with CD. This group is labeled NCWS (Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity) or more widely known as NCGS (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity). Many with CD have similar symptoms and experience things that a lot of people don’t see, which is why it’s hard to believe, but their symptoms are physically draining. They experience one or all of “foggy mind, depression, ADHD-like behavior, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, bone or joint pain, and chronic fatigue when they have gluten in their diet[...]” Those with NCGS can also get an added bonus of a hive-like rash or eczema that can pop up on any part of their body. ALL in this group experience damage to their villi, which is responsible for nutrient-absorption.
Again, why don’t they just...not eat out? Well, why don’t people with lactose intolerance just...not eat out? Wait a minute. Why don’t people with lactose intolerance get made fun of? Maybe it’s because Ethnic-American groups range from 53%-90% effected and Euro-blooded are now considered “lactase persistent” AKA able to swallow another animals boob juice. But, nobody dies from that one. I DIGRESS. Back to the point. So, why don’t CD and NCGS individuals just avoid eating out in public? Social eating is a US norm. It’s what people do for birthdays, holidays, get-togethers...everything in the US is very food-centric. So, what you’re really asking is, "Why they don’t remove themselves from socializing because their pain is such a problem for you?" “Like, this disease didn’t even show up until like 10 years ago,” says the mouth-breather voice.
"Why they don’t remove themselves from socializing because their pain is such a problem for you?"
Celiac Disease actually has a long standing history with very little reporting or attention. Disclaimer: If you’re not into history, facts, or nose-breathing, you may wanna skip this part. The first case of CD is thought to have been tracked in the late second century AD, but not published until 1888 by Samuel Gee. In 1952, Dutch Pediatrician, WK Dick showed an improvement in children with CD during WWII, when wheat was unavailable. Wheat consumption has only increased in the past 5 centuries contributing to 50% of caloric intake around the world, and resulting in 132.5 pounds per person annually in the US. Older grains, such as einkorn and emmer, seem to be more easily digestible for those with CD and NCGS. The disease really only came to light because the popular fad diet of eliminating gluten to reduce bloating. This was a blessing and a curse.
So, everybody knew about it now, but not everybody stuck to the diet. Followers of the GF (gluten-free) diet would say how they had to stay away from gluten, yet would shove the closest cookie in their mouth or shrug a shoulder when the cook added gluten to their order. This made it seem like those people with the actual disease, intolerance, or sensitivity were just picky little brats when it came to their food. This digestive issue is dubbed the “American White Rich Person’s Disease.” However, “population based screening has shown that African, South Asian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern countries have similar diagnostic rates of CD and NCGS as those in the US.” So, not much.
It has now been recognized as an actual allergy. Most people can see this on many boxes of product on the label where written “May contain” or “List of allergens.” Again, though, because of the diet fad and marketing, a lot of the marketing for foods and restaurants will state “Gluten-Free,” but it’s not for people with allergies; it’s for those who want to look slimmer or feel healthier. Fad dieting has caused frustration for the CD and NCGS affected because their concern for their health ends up sounding like paranoia and high maintenance. And, none of them like being that person. It’s a chore that feels like a burden on them and everyone around them. But, you’ve known this person forever and they used to eat burritos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So, what changed?
Fad dieting has caused frustration for the CD and NCGS affected because their concern for their health ends up sounding like paranoia and high maintenance.
The weird part about this digestive issue is that not every person is born with it. For some, it develops in their adult years with those who have the dormant genetic. It’s not known what can spark the dormant gene in adulthood, but it’s not a rare happening. “HLA genes are responsible for about 40% of the total genetic predisposition for CD[...]However, 30% of the general population carries the HLA-DQ2 allele, and yet only approximately 3% will go on to develop CD.” In some cases, people can get it when they’re younger, but not know about it until later. “The average length of time it takes for a symptomatic person to be diagnosed with celiac disease in the US is four years; this type of delay dramatically increases an individual’s risk of developing autoimmune disorders, neurological problems, osteoporosis and even cancer.” What’s worse is that is an average length.
There are also those who never get diagnosed or have a hard time getting diagnosed, especially those with NCGS, and have to figure it out with trials of their own. In short, for NCGS and CD individuals, eating gluten can lead to life-threatening autoimmune disorders.
So, try being a little more sensitive to the sensitive; it’s a nice start. Instead of calling them out or seeing their pain as your problem, start being kinder or stop being their friend. Make an effort to end the ignorance and put yourself in their shoes. Call a restaurant ahead of time and ask if they avoid cross-contamination with gluten. If they’re your family member, maybe care enough for the person who’s in your life for-one of your-ever’s. Now, if that person who had CD or NCGS is really just a piece of poo to party with, stop inviting them out and leave them be. And, if you don’t know anyone with CD or NCGS or care to know anyone with it, then please don't make it your place to comment with an entitled opinion without factual information to back it up. Cheers!