by Margaret Jasinska

This was the message in a recent news article appearing on The Age website titled “Wealthy developing taste for gluten free food”. You can read the article here.

Officially around one percent of Australians have been diagnosed with coeliac disease, yet the recent boom in sales of gluten free foods indicates far more people are following a gluten free diet for other reasons.

People are demanding more gluten free foods in restaurants and supermarkets, and they are asking their doctor to test them for gluten sensitivity. This behaviour is particularly prevalent in some of Melbourne’s wealthier suburbs. Interestingly, in the article mentioned above, dietician Rosemary Stanton has been quoted as saying “People who say they are gluten free without the proper testing are doing it to make them feel special”. She is also quoted as saying ”If your symptoms are just that you get wind, that is kind of normal,”.

Really? Is it normal and okay to experience flatulence after eating gluten and the solution is just to keep eating it anyway?

Aside from the fact it can be embarrassing, uncomfortable or painful, flatulence is also a sign of trouble in the intestines. It’s an indicator that you are not digesting your food properly and/or there is an overgrowth of bad microorganisms in your intestines. This can lead to fatigue and immune system problems. Are people supposed to just put up with that?

Incidentally, I thoroughly recommend you do things to make yourself feel special; such as buying yourself a new novel, or a bunch of flowers, or getting a massage or facial, or having a day out with your best friend, etcetera. All these things can improve your health.

Getting back to gluten; there are several forms of gluten sensitivity, ranging from coeliac disease, to gluten intolerance, to wheat allergy. Let’s not debate the pathology of gluten sensitivity right now. The fact is, a great number of people just feel better off gluten. They are less bloated, they feel more energetic, they sleep better, their concentration improves, and they may lose weight.

You can only experience the benefits of a gluten free diet once you’ve tried it. I certainly agree that a gluten free diet can be expensive. Gluten free puff pastry that never really puffs, or gluten free croissants do cost a fortune, but they are not appropriate foods in a healthy diet anyway. It is alright to eat these foods occasionally, but everyday staples like an omelette, tuna salad or chicken soup are also gluten free. Meals like this are very inexpensive and far healthier.

What do you think? Are gluten free diets just a fad? Have you tried a gluten free diet, and did it make a difference to your health?