“Gluten free.” These words are everywhere in today’s world. This is because almost 29 percent of people in the United States are trying to avoid gluten in their diet. But why is this? Well, there are many reasons why people are going gluten free. It could be anything from something medical to just keeping up with the latest fad diet. There are endless possibilities about why people are eating this way. I’m here to fill you in on some of those reasons.
The main reason people go gluten free is because they have some sort of autoimmune disorder that makes it necessary. The most popular one is Celiac Disease, which is a disease in which gluten destroys the villi of the small intestine, making it impossible to absorb nutrients. One in every 133 people are affected by Celiac Disease. Someone who has this disease has to be on a gluten free diet in order to survive, and feel better. “I have Celiac Disease, and once I went on a gluten free diet I felt like a completely new person. It was amazing!” says Megan Tradife, an 18-year-old with Celiac Disease.
Another autoimmune disorder that makes people go gluten free is Chron’s Disease. This disease causes inflammation of the digestive tract. Many doctors tell patients with Chron’s Disease to eat gluten free to avoid any unnecessary inflammation.
One lesser-known reason for going gluten is for Autism Spectrum Disorders, which affect children’s ability to interact socially. It has been shown that going on a gluten free and casein free diet can improve their condition.
Going gluten free not only affects your own life, but the lives around you as well. For this reason, family members and loved ones of people on gluten free diets go on gluten free diets themselves. They do it for moral support, or just for an easier life. For example, say you live with your significant other who eats gluten free but you do not yourself. Cooking two different meals everyday can be hard and expensive, and sometimes it is easier to join forces and both eat gluten free. “My boyfriend eats gluten free, so I try to as well so I can give him some support,” says Ashlee Morawski.
Finally, the biggest reason why people are going gluten free right now is that it is a trend. There are numerous celebrities that claim to be on a gluten free diet, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba, and Zooey Deschanel. People want to emulate their favorite celebrities, and if they hear they are on a new diet, they want to try it too.
Although I think healthy dieting is a good thing, I am not too happy about gluten free diets being a trend. I personally think it minimizes the actual medical need to be gluten free. In my experience, when I go to a restaurant and ask for a gluten free menu, the waiter or waitress always thinks I am just trying to be trendy, and therefore is not as careful with my food. However, there is a plus side. There is definitely more gluten free options out there now that everyone wants to eat like it.
If you are thinking of going gluten free, I highly suggest you see a doctor or dietician first. They will guide you to the right foods and help you keep all of your vitamins and nutrients in check. It is a hard lifestyle to live, but if you feel that it would make you feel better or healthier, go for it!
Also, if you decide to go gluten free, check out my map of food stores in South Jersey that have gluten free products!