I was going to start out ranting and raving about Lady Gaga using a gluten-free diet for weight loss, but before I do that I feel the need to link to this horribly misinformed article from the Huffington Post about Miley Cyrus, and her impossible to have wheat allergy. Since when are wheat allergies impossible? This article is just terrible and downplays not only Celiac Disease but non-Celiac gluten-sensitivity, and completely discredits having a gluten or wheat allergy. It also notes that people may be only perceiving that they have a gluten issue because of the power of suggestion from celebrities. Just read and be thoroughly confused as I am…
Like seriously, what the what?
Back to the whole reason I was even looking at gluten-free celebrities; Lady Gaga. First off she may be terrifying to look at but the woman does not need to lose ten pounds. Maybe if she stopped dressing in meat, and starting dressing in clothes that flatter her body she would learn to accept her body for what it is.
All joking aside here’s a quote from her choreographer and creative director about Lady Gaga’s diet:
“Everything’s just healthy It’s like gluten-free, tuna, protein. There’s no M&M’s, there’s no gummy bears. There’s cheese, there’s water, there’s fruit, there’s vegetables – the only indulgence might be the cheese and grape platter. But other than that, it’s like wheat crisps.”
Wheat crisps? Seriously? And she’s claiming to go gluten-free? This is why celebrities create a bad name for people who must follow a gluten-free diet. It is beneficial, to a point, for celebrities to be embracing the gluten-free diet. In today’s society, where celebrities are our version of royalty, any celeb’s movement is highly tracked and reported on. Gluten-free awareness will rise with people like Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and other big names embracing the diet.
However, in my opinion, it is really more of a curse then a blessing. As Tom McAllister discusses in his post On Being Accidentally Trendy, I now feel the need to explain myself at restaurants. Yes, they may be more aware of gluten-free eating, and celebrities going gluten-free may be the only reason they are aware, but I don’t like the look from people that says “oh you’re on a diet.” As McAllister gracefully puts it “fuck you, celebrity, for glomming onto a real disease and using it as a means to get yourself on the cover of Weight Loss Weekly or Crazy Sex Tips Quarterly or whatever magazine it is.”
No, I am not eating gluten-free to lose weight. I am eating gluten-free because if I don’t I will get disgustingly skinny from the fact that I can’t keep any sort of food down and I absorb no nutrients because my body is too busy attacking itself to do the things it is supposed to. No I don’t eat gluten-free to get a more “svelte” body (not sure what they mean by this but it’s a phrase that has come up in multiple articles about celebs eating gluten-free); I eat gluten-free so I can function, not sleep 23 hours a day, and spend the other hour of the day hugging my toilet.
The other issue that celebs using gluten-free as a weight loss technique is it can cause restaurants to be careless. I’ve worked in food service since I was 16, I’ve never held a job anywhere else. I also have some school from Johnson and Wales University in restaurant management, and used to be certified in food safety. Restaurants are not clean places. Cross-contamination is everywhere! To a point it is the fault of the cooks, but to a point it cannot be helped when you are creating 30 different dishes at one time, to have a little cross-contamination. If the kitchen is only viewing gluten-free as a fad diet, and not a serious health concern, they are going to be careless in the way they prepare the food. If cross-contamination happens, they will send the dish out anyways because they believe the customer is eating that way for weight-loss, and not because they will get incredibly sick. I’ve found myself telling servers that I have a gluten-allergy. “Allergy” is a term restaurants can understand, “Celiac Disease” is not. I also find myself telling people when I first meet them and they offer to buy me a beer at a bar that I have an “allergy” since the minute they hear “disease” most give me a look like “can I catch your disease?”
Oh and the other funny thing about a gluten-free diet: IT DOESN’T HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT! Look here, here, here, and here. What most people don’t seem to understand is that the gluten-free substitutes for every day products such as bread, pasta, cookies, and the like, are actually higher in calories for smaller portions. For example, two Udi’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies is 210 calories with 10 grams of fat, three Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies is 160 calories with 8 grams of fat.
Personally, I have struggled with my weight since I was diagnosed. In August of 2011 when I first found out that I would have to be gluten-free for the rest of my life, I weight 108 pounds. At 5 foot 3, that was a little too skinny, but when you are only eating a yogurt, some apple slices, and copious amounts of RedBull to stay awake, a day, it can be expected. After diagnosis, at first I was hesitant to eat anything after spending so much time being sick from everything I ate. Once I discovered that these gluten-free foods wouldn’t make me sick, and some of them were actually quite tasty, I started eating again. The lack of nutritional value in my diet lead to new problems. My weight steadily climbed while I tried to figure out what foods it was worth spending the money on for the gluten-free varieties, what foods had any nutritional value, and what foods genuinely taste good.
At my heaviest, earlier this year, I weighed 132 pounds. While that may not seem like a lot, I felt huge. So I started cutting out the gluten-free breads, eating less of the gluten-free pastas, and eating more sautéed veggies for dinner instead. Once I moved into my own apartment and stopped getting cross-contaminated by careless roommates, I lost a few pounds because I was no longer bloating all the time, but I also started to lose weight because I learned how to eat correctly. My weight has stabilized at a very healthy 120 pounds.
The mistake I was making in that first year was that I was so desperate to eat the same foods that I used to that I was eating all of these empty calories in the gluten-free substitutes. While, every once in a while, I will buy myself a pack of rolls to bring back to my parents for a BBQ, and I do have a stash of gluten-free pasta because sometimes all you want is a big bowl of pasta for dinner; for the most part I stay away from the substitutions. I eat a lot of what ever is in season vegetable and fruit wise. I eat a lot of protein, a huge source being the Chobani yogurt which have 12 grams each, and I stick with naturally gluten-free starches, such as rice and quinoa.
Basically, what I am trying to say, is don’t jump on the gluten-free bandwagon because your favorite celebrity is doing it. If you want to lose weight eat healthy, and going gluten-free if you can digest gluten is not the way to do it. Check out your local farm stands for locally grown, fresh produce, eat smaller portions, eat lots of protein, eat whole grains, and make sure you eat your fiber (which a lot of gluten-free foods are low in, and I will spare you the details of what THAT does to your digestive system)!
Check out these facts and fictions about eating gluten-free: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/08/24/op-ed-going-gluten-free-may-not-be-greatest-thing-sliced-bread
On a side note in my research of gluten-free celebs I did find some interesting ones. Drew Brees, of New Orleans’ Saints fame, has not only a gluten allergy, but an allergy to eggs, nuts, and dairy. Raul Ibanez, currently a Yankee (formerly a Phillie), was also diagnosed with a gluten-allergy back in 2011.
In all seriousness, if you think you may have an issue with gluten, Celiac or sensitivity, don’t go gluten-free without consulting a doctor. If you do have Celiac Disease, the tests will come up negative if you have already cut gluten from your diet.
If do think you have Celiac Disease, check out this symptoms checklist from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.
If you are already diagnoses don’t forget to get your tickets for Appetite for Awareness happening Sunday, September 23rd, at the Historic Strawbridge Building in Philadelphia. Tickets can be purchased here!