It’s gluten-free week over on foodandwine.com, where you'll find lots of information and recipes to try if you suffer from a gluten sensitivity or allergy. Truly there are a lot of legitimate diagnoses of celiac disease—rates have gone up 300% in the last 60 years according to a study from the Mayo clinic. "That translates to about 1.8 million Americans with celiac disease...On the flip side, about 1.6 million people in the U.S. are on a gluten-free diet even though they haven't been diagnosed with celiac disease." Not all reasons for avoiding gluten are created equal and cutting it out of your diet when you don’t have to can actually be bad for you. So here are 5 of the worst and medically unadvisable reasons to avoid gluten.
1. Because it’s a healthier way to eat.
Not necessarily. According to dietician Katherine Tallmadge, "Studies show that gluten-free diets can be deficient in fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc." These are items that keep your bones and heart healthy among many other things.
2. Losing weight.
You might, you might not. When food manufacturers pull gluten out of products they usually replace it with extra fats (bad) and sugars (much worse) to make them palatable. Guess what doesn’t make you lose weight. Did you guess added fats and sugars?
3. Everyone else is doing it.
You don’t want to be the only person at brunch ordering waffles huh? The reason all your friends are ditching gluten is probably the same reason they’re wearing crop tops and growing mustaches. It’s a fad for them and like most fad diets, will end up being bad for you in the long run. Do yourself a favor and be your own person. Those waffles will be delicious.
4. To get attention.
Some people just like to sit down at a restaurant and say, “Yes, but tell me which items on your menu do not feature gluten,” in a fake British accent. These are real people. We have dined with them. Little tip if you do that: you are the most hated person in the restaurant--especially when you "splurge" on cake for dessert.
5. A famous person told you to.
Here are some gluten-free celebrities that don’t suffer from celiac: Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Gwyneth Paltrow. Anyone notice that list of celebrities is also totally extreme (Gwyneth, you do lots of things well, but anyone who “consciously uncouples” from her husband counts as an odd person). Celebrities can use their powers for good, but hawking fad diets is not on that list.