Real Fine Food: Is All This Gluten-Free Talk Really Worth It?

Columnist Stephanie Casey
Columnist Stephanie Casey

I’ve mostly rolled my eyes at the trend of highlighting gluten status on … everything. Does my shampoo really need a gluten-free label? Can that many people actually have gluten sensitivity, all of a sudden? Centuries of humanity eating bread can’t be wrong … right?

I decided to do a little test and cut gluten out for a month to see if I notice anything. A good friend recently did this and reported back that she felt un-bloated. Not that she noticed being bloated before, but while off the stuff, if she did eat a wheat product, she felt a little bloated. She also said she dropped some weight during her gluten-free month. Hmm.

Now that I think about it, I’ve never been able to drink most beer. Especially heavier, darker beers. After half a pint, I blow up like a balloon and feel like I need to be rolled out of my location. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye, which explains the dark beer thing.

So, here I am on Day 8 of my gluten-free month as I write this. Gluten is used as a thickening agent a lot. You can find it in unsuspecting places such as soy sauce, but I’m not going hard-core. Only someone with celiac disease should worry about trace amounts. For me, it mostly means cutting out wheat-flour pasta, baked goods (breads, treats), and flour tortillas. This isn’t too difficult since I prefer corn tortillas and almost all Asian noodles are made with beans, rice and such. I do miss bread and want it when somebody is eating it in front of me. But I will be strong for this month!

From everything I’ve learned about food cultivation and production, I’d guess that wheat itself isn’t evil. It’s more likely that through modification of seeds, growing and processing methods to speed and ease production, the West has corrupted our wheat, barley and rye. Or it may be that, like a lot of food products, we simply eat too much of it so there are adverse effects.

I have no actual data to back this up, so I write this to you as a casual conversation — a hypothesis. Over the next month, I will research philosophies, experiences, and actual science on the topic and report back.

Stephanie M. Casey can be reached at Join Real Fine Food on Instagram and Facebook.

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