So I will admit that I have been having some uncomfortable feelings brewing about the newest fad of weird dietary restrictions, the gluten free diet. Unlike previous dietary fads like the Atkins or Super Foods in which people were in search of painless and dramatic weight loss, the gluten free people seemed to have banned together to form some sort cult. Gluten free is not a means to an end, it is a lifestyle.
These nogluts, as I have taken to calling them, are not just using their diet for themselves but forcing it upon their children and loved ones. I have seen this happen many times, but have remained silent. It wasn’t until after having Thanksgiving with a cousin employed by a Whole Foods in Connecticut that I realized this phenomenon was spreading outside the sphere of the Pioneer Valley ( an area with a rich history of bizarre dietary restrictions) and needed addressing. Before anyone gets offended I want to point out that I don’t deny the existence of Celiacs disease, a bona fide gluten intolerance which causes a slew of gastrointestinal maladies, but the fact that gluten intolerance is suddenly popping up like wild fire among white, liberal arts educated, yuppie types, seems a bit dubious. I mean humans have been practicing agriculture now for over 10,000 years, a mere blip in the scheme of time yes, but plenty of time for our ancestors to build up a solid if imperfect relationship with gluten.
Anyone who has ever visited a Whole Foods or say lived in the Pioneer Valley knows that there is nothing worse than getting stuck behind a noglut in the grocery store.
They are always scrutinizing packages in a very loud, self important voice calling out to random people as if they are store employees, “excuse me, does this have gluten in it?” Lady it’s pasta, what the hell do you think? These people have certainly become the pariahs of the grocery store, dinner parties, and pot lucks alike.
Really the thing that makes these nogluts so intolerable is not their hatred toward gluten, but their desire to proselytize their no gluten life style’s to anyone who will listen. To hear them talk you would have thought that before they cut gluten out of their diets they were roaming the Earth as mere shells of themselves; wretched, gas filled gollums praying for death.
It’s hard to believe that a simple food “sensitivity” could have created such strife, how did all these poor people live pre-2010? The thing is I do believe the rejuvenation and inner piece people experience from their gluten free diet is real, I just don’t think it has anything to do with gluten. These people are experiencing the high one gets from the knowledge that they are better and more well informed than everybody else, the idea that they are the chosen ones, the people that have been let in on a cosmic secret that will certainly lead them to eternal life (see veganism, Jehovah’s Witnesses). This high can be dangerous as we have seen in instances such as Jonestown and Waco, it’s this kind of twisted group think that leads to real tragedy.
I, for one, am progluten. Being diabetic I sadly have to leave my gluten munching to a minimum (most things with gluten are also loaded with carbs, but I swear carbs really are trying to kill me). On the rare occasion that I do eat gluten, I want my pasta to have the delicious chewiness and my bread to have the doughy elasticity that only gluten can provide. It’s so much more satisfying than the oft mealy countenance of their gluten free counter parts. In the end what I am really trying to say is not that we should kill all gluten free advocates (although remember, no one likes the person watching them with a mix of pity and disgust as they eat their sandwich) but that when it comes to food you really should be embracing moderation. If not for your health, than for the sanity of those around you. We are lucky enough to live in a country where food is abundant, so abundant in fact that an entire group of people have the luxury of snubbing wheat, the basis of the entire bottom of food pyramid. It’s good to remind ourselves now and again of this tremendous advantage we are given. Hopefully in doing so we can avoid taking for granted the huge variety and bounty that we have to feed our bodies and keep our minds at peace.