DietGimmicks

Gluten free food – is it a supermarket gimmick?

By March 13, 2012 7 Comments

Something landed on the front page of smh.com.au today which raised one, two or even three of my eyebrows

I’ll admit, it was between laughing at a Chris Brown video and reading a deranged tale about some bloke who made his own piss dungeon.

True Story.

Gluten free food is such a hot-topic right now

It’s easy to see the correlation between the sudden influx of super market items which are deemed wheat free, gluten free, everything free, and what’s being publicized in the media. Does this make it a supermarket ploy though?

Are we being led down the path of purchasing gluten-free products which cost double to triple the price of regular goods in a vain attempt of ridding ourselves of something we all seem to know little about?

What makes me think the majority know very little about gluten sensitivity

I read commentary on various articles which go something like the following:

There is no need to avoid gluten unless you have a medically diagnosed intolerance such as Coeliac disease. I was misdiagnosed with Coeliac for a year and trying to avoid gluten not only made eating less enjoyable (sorry Coeliacs) but also much more expensive. Don’t fall for this being cleverly marketed as a fad diet, gluten is by no means a poison to everybody!

Until further investigation, it is easy for most people to misinterpret what they’ve read on the internet. Why’s that? You say…

Because Gluten sensitivity (intolerance) and Coeliacs Disease are two different things

Just because you went to the doctor and the tests came back as ‘negative’ for Coeliacs Disease, this does NOT void you from being sensitive to Gluten.

On the contrary.

Of course they do correlate, but often gluten sensitivity and Coeliacs Disease can be separate little SOB’s. I know many people that have an intolerance to Gluten (one of the 17% of the western population) as opposed to having Coeliac Disease (1% of the western population). My wife, it would seem, is one of the 17%.

A lot of us suffer from varying degrees of Gluten Sensitivity

Despite the fact that a lot of us are unknowingly gluten intolerant to some degree, there’s a HUGE (growing) list of symptoms:

• Abdominal Distention
• Abdominal Pain and Cramping
• Alternating Bouts of Diarrhea and Constipation
• Anemia
• Arthritis
• Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
• Autism
• Bloating (see Gluten Intolerance Bloating)
• Bone Density Loss
• Borborygmi (stomach rumbling)
• Constipation (see Celiac Disease Constipation)
• Stunted Growth and Failure to Thrive
• Depression, Anxiety and Irritability (see Celiac Depression)
• Dermatitis Herpetiformis (skin rash)
• Diabetes
• Diarrhea
• Fatigue…

And this is just the tip of the iceberg – The list goes on!
Click here for the full list of symptoms

With so many gluten associated symptoms, it’d be easy to put two and two together wouldn’t it

“Oh yeah, I have 2 or more from that list, I must be gluten intolerant and have a mild case of Coeliacs Disease”.

But that isn’t the point of this article…

The point is whether we are all being exploited by the supermarket giants or not. The fact that a packet of Gluten-free sandwich wraps are $6.80 and a packet of regular ones are half the price would lead me to think that perhaps we are being exploited.

Then I figure supply-and-demand is playing its part in the equation.

If a tenth of the food items on offer are gluten free, it would make sense that those in the minority would have to be slightly more expensive to produce.

Where we need to be careful of gluten-free products

There’s a tendency, with every new fad or product that hits the shelves toting that it’s ‘this FREE’ and ‘that FREE’, to think we can all change our eating habits. Just because it’s gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s any better for you.

Gluten free products are still filled with calories and need to be regulated just like everything else you consume.

A huge positive of gluten-free eating and limiting your grains

The importance of fiber is well documented, so I’m not telling you to stop eating your grains all together. Heck, I wouldn’t give up eating a Pana De Casa with my wife’s Mussel dish any time soon! All I’m saying is, reduce the amount of breads and wheat-filled products that you have on a daily basis. Bloating, skin irritations or any number of those nasty ‘symptoms’ on the list may subside and you might just feel better for it.

Further reading on Gluten Sensitivity and Coeliacs Disease

Sarah Wilson wrote a great piece on everything involving Gluten and how it can lead to Coeliacs Disease in the long term.
I suggest you check it out >

Clint’s Note: What are your thoughts? Is gluten free food a supermarket gimmick?

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

More posts by Clint Nielsen
  • First of all, I got distracted by the piss dungeon story. I thought maybe it was just an Aussie expression, but no…it’s really what it sounds like. That alone was an entertaining read.

    But back to Gluten. I had a Gluten-free pizza at my favorite pizza place about a month ago just to see what it tasted like. Long story short, I wouldn’t order it again.

    It’s so easy to be skeptical about the Gluten-free craze now. Think about how low-fat went from fad to “eat this way or die of a massive heart attack.” It’s so hard to go to any grocery store these days and find something like yogurt which isn’t low fat. Never mind that low-fat can be a lot worse for you than normal, unmodified versions of the same food.

    Gluten definitely is something which will be worth watching though. I don’t eat a lot of grains anymore, so it’s really not as big of a deal for me. But one way to see how your body handles grains and Gluten in general is to do an elimination diet. Basically start with the bare minimum in terms of variety of foods eaten, and slowly work in other foods one at a time. If your body does worse with grains and Gluten, it might be worth looking into.

    • Clint Nielsen

      I’d have to disagree with the gluten-free pizza thing – I ordered one 2 weeks ago with the wife and we enjoyed it immensely.
      My take-out from that is: There’s good pizza and bad pizza, no matter what base it sits on. Just needs to be an establishment that knows how to cook with it.

      Totally agree with your point on slowly introducing foods aka elimination style though.
      That seems to be working for myself in regards to skin allergies – since cutting back on bread, the skin irritation on my jaw line seems to have subsided.

      • You’re absolutely right about the good pizza/bad pizza thing. Even at the same restaurant, it can vary. At a place nearby, if you eat in the restaurant, the pizza is amazing. If you order it to go, it just tastes really, really plain.

        I have high hopes for gluten-free pizza though. I think it’s still relatively new, so I would imagine establishments which recently added it to the menu are still tinkering with the recipe and trying to make adjustments.

        But it’ll still be awhile before I try another. I just need to find the right place with a reputation for killer gluten-free pizza.

  • Although gluten concerns have much validity to them, the “gluten-free” advertizing boom is exactly as you say, another gimmic that is enjoying its 15 minutes in the spotlight.
    Much of what’s being sold might actually be gluten-free. However, these items frequently contain harmful additives and preservatives that counter any potential health benefits from the absence of gluten.
    Food doesn’t come in packages, and doesn’t have hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Unprocessed vegetables and fruits provide more than enough fiber than what we need from potentially harmful grains. Almond-flour, coconut flour, and flax meal make great alternatives for baking as well.
    Either way, in a short while, another fad will take place of the “gluten-free” one, and this will no longer be a topic.
    Thanks for the great post, Clint.

  • Clint – great article. I most definitely think that supermarkets are taking advantage of the “gluten-free” phenomenon. I myself did an in depth post here on the whole grains and gluten craze, if you’re interested in my take :)

    http://www.laststopfatloss.com/why-grains-and-gluten-arent-bad-for-you

  • Great artcile Clint- I reckon the best way to eat gluten free is to eat nothing from a packet that says “gluten free”.  Ive even seen gluten free doughnuts at my local “health food” store.  Clean foods that dont contain gluten are going to bring so much more benefit that those super processed gluten free disasters…

  • ted wagner

    I have found to most useful to avoid not only gluten, but foods that attempt to mimic gluten. GF bread, pasta, cookies, etc. Most of it is crap. Just eat whole food that has been processed as little as possible.