Reader: Bar Belle and dieters dissing gluten do a disservice to those with celiac disease

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"I was really hoping you'd go on the Jason Sheehan diet: whiskey, cigarettes, and Lucky Charms," writes Mantonat in response to the second installment of Bar Belle, Laura Shunk's new series about how a food critic can indeed get fit.

In last Monday's installment, Shunk kicked gluten to the curb, prompting Mantonat's recollection of our last Cafe critic's diet, as well as this:

My common-sense guess about losing weight by eliminating gluten? It's not the gluten. It's all the bread that your cutting out of your diet. If you eliminate all the wheat-based foods that most of us commonly eat (pasta, bread, breaded items, most breakfast treats), it's really hard to replace all of those calories. For example: why does he recommend eliminating rice from the Chipotle burrito? There's no gluten in rice, but white rice is mostly just carbs, which are mostly just empty calories. And you still only get to eat half of what's in the bowl.

Eyeroll's impassioned response goes beyond common sense and into science:


I have celiac disease and can't eat gluten without experiencing severe gastrointestinal pain and bowel issues. I also can't order at a restaurant without being scoffed at by servers, chefs, and even acquaintances who think I'm making up food issues -- that my "allergy" is a euphemism for an eating disorder, or a lazy, girly excuse to attract attention to the fact I'm dieting. In actuality, I'd just like to be able to go out and eat a meal with my friends and family without the anxiety of making special requests at every single meal, excluding about 75% of the dishes on any menu, and having to obsessively research every restaurant before I go to find something I might, just might, be able to eat. And that's if I'm lucky and I don't end up in the bathroom for hours after the meal.

This post perpetuates the idea that people who can't eat gluten are just self-absorbed dieters, and I'm offended by it. The more this idea takes root, the harder it is for me to be taken seriously as someone with medical issues. Congratulations on losing weight, but don't pretend it's because you're not eating gluten. It's not -- there are no scientific studies linking consumption of gluten to weight gain. You're losing weight because you're eating fewer calories, and you don't need to do it while making it harder for real people with real medical issues.

Watch for the next installment of Bar Belle on Cafe Society this morning.


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6 comments
Jeff
Jeff

I always order extra gluten.

eyeroll
eyeroll

See Uncledave8; thanks, Laura.  You've proven my point.

Uncledave8
Uncledave8

Totally agree with "fake ailments" - a very, very small number of people really have celiac disease compared to the number now claiming to have gluten "allergies" or just choosing to be gluten free to dodge the carbs - really who even heard of celiac disease five years ago?  Now, every restaurant is expected to have gluten free menus or be criticized as insensitive.  Vegan, gluten free, vegetarian?  Learn to cook and stay home.  

Frankly, I think Ms. Shunk should resign (or be fired) from her position.  How can a food critic with so many dietary restrictions possibly do a decent just as a restaurant critic?

fake ailments
fake ailments

I have worked in the industry fior years, 5 years ago there werent close to as many celiac eaters as there are now, and I have witnessed on multiple occasions "I'm allergic to gluten people digging in to bread"  not everybody is faking but there are a lot of people who jumped on this as a tren, if you are on a diet and don't want bread, say it.  Don't claim to be allergic to gluten, chefs love to please so no bread is no bread, but I will say from my standpoint a lot of people are just jumping on a band wagon.

Mantonat
Mantonat

And those pesky handicapped folks should stay home too - all those ramps and automatic doors are costing our society a fortune!

Seriously Uncledave8, why the eff do you even care? The additional gluten-free options that chefs or restaurants offer don't affect you in any way. Whether people have a genetic disorder with a scientific name, an undiagnosed allergy or sensitivity, or just the desire to lie about their condition, it doesn't prevent you from stuffing your face with whatever you want.

As to the claim "whoever heard of Celiac disease 5 years ago?" The obvious answer is doctors and people with Celiac disease. Your ignorance does not mean the rest of the world is also ignorant.

Laura Shunk
Laura Shunk

Thanks for the comment -- I tried to make it clear in the post that this is how I eat when I'm not on the job. When I'm out for work -- which is at least four times a week -- these rules go out the window, and I eat whatever's put in front of me. Happily.

When I'm eating on my own time? That's when I play by different rules. And thus far, my fitness plan hasn't interfered with the duties and requirements of my job -- it's just given me balance to ensure I don't keel over from a heart attack because of my line of work.

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