I try (try being the operative word here) to live by the wisdom of food writer Michael Pollan as much as humanly possible…these two nuggets of his wisdom in particular:
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
Pollan’s advice resonates for me because it feels logical and balanced (something not always present in food advice these days). The “mostly plants” part says there’s room for other stuff, in moderation, and that said “stuff” should be real food recognizable by those that didn’t have the “luxury” of massive, fluorescent-light filled grocery stores at their disposal.
My own great-grandmother made a huge homemade breakfast from scratch every morning before my great grandfather would go to work on their farm in Kentucky. As a child, I had the occasional pleasure of being on the receiving end of her massive buffet of scrambled eggs (from the farm, natch), sliced tomatoes, homemade biscuits, and homemade fresh peach hand pies. She didn’t make smoothies or steel cut oatmeal. She made peach hand pies… We enjoyed them, in moderation, and then ran around outside for the rest of the morning burning them off before regrouping for a similarly decedent lunch spread.
I think it’s safe to assume that in the scenario above Mr. Pollan would approve of the peach hand pies.
The imbalance of our current daily life has forced us into complicated relationships with food. Sadly, running around outdoors has been replaced by 8-10 hours of sitting in front of our computers. So, to atone for our sedentary ways, we go extreme…way extreme. No carbs, no meat, no sugar, no dairy, and, the latest object of our denial, no gluten.
Gluten is indeed the enemy for a large number of folks that suffer from severe allergies and Celiac disease. But, for lots of others, eliminating it has become another way to stay slim and healthy…But does it work? Dallas mom and blogger Paige Darrah has the same question, so she went straight to her daughter Poppy’s pediatrician to get the 411 on Gluten.
Here’s her take.
By Paige Darrah
A recent SNL sketch shows a young couple on a date at a hip, dimly lit restaurant (it looks to me like they’re at Craft). The young man has just taken a bite:
Jason Sudeikis: ‘Hmmm. You wanna try some of my pasta?’
Nasim Pedrad: ‘Oh, I’d love to, but, ugghh, I’m allergic to gluten.’
Jason places his hand on Nasim’s hand.
Jason Sudeikis: ‘That must be sooo hard.’
Narrator: ‘When you’re faking an allergy to gluten or lactose, reach for Flaritin for fast relief.’
The subject of gluten-free diets came up in a recent chat with Poppy’s pediatrician, Dr. Christopher Dreiling (pediatrician extraordinaire at Pediatric Associates of Dallas).
Me: “So, Dr. Dreiling, what’s the deal with all these gluten-free people? Their food tastes terrible.”
Dr. Dreiling: “I love gluten. I order extra gluten on the side.”
Me: “Me too! Most of the gluten-free stuff that I’ve tried is far from tasty. Do you think people are faking a wheat allergy to seem more interesting, or is it a weight loss diet thing, or is it simply that more people have wheat allergies these days?”
Dr. Dreiling: “Lately I’ve had parents asking me if putting their kid on a gluten-free diet would help tame their child’s autism, ADHD, development problems, random fatigue, etc.. They come to me saying that little Johnny’s mother eliminated gluten from her son’s diet and all of a sudden he was doing better in school. The reality is that if you eliminate gluten, you eliminate other stuff too. That’s the problem with a nebulous elimination strategy; the danger of non-science tactics (Steve Jobs is one example). They expect to feel much better, and so they do – for a little while (gotta love that placebo effect). The same thing applies with many other random cleanses and cyclical diet trends – if not done properly they can be very unhealthy.”
Dr. Dreiling went on to explain that people can have different grades of gluten sensitivity. These grades can range from a mild gluten sensitivity (if you eat gluten you experience mild abdominal discomfort) to full-blown Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance as advertised).
I had a friend in college who couldn’t tolerate gluten, and she wouldn’t stand for it. Let’s call her Sylvie. Yep, Sylvie was gluten intolerant. As a result, there wasn’t very much that she could eat at the campus cafeteria, or anywhere else for that matter. It was only later that I found out that Sylvie did not actually have Celiac Disease, she was just anorexic.
As someone who has been a card-carrying vegetarian for 10 years (with only a brief intermission during my third trimester of pregnancy. Damn you Arby’s and your savory roast beef sandwiches!), I can certainly understand the need for weight loss tactics. Having said that, I’m calling into question some of those serendipitously gluten intolerant individuals whilst asking the1% of Americans who have a genuine gluten intolerance for a small favor: Please keep your voices down. The increasing prevalence of your food threatens to box out the palatable food.