On Thursday night, ABC’s Nightline ran a 6-minute segment on the latest dietary fad: going gluten-free.
In the video, the View’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who wrote the first celebrity Celiac book, the G-Free Diet, demonstrates how “easy” it is to be on a gluten-free diet; that is, if, like her, you live in New York City next to a Whole Foods. She says people who go on the GF diet will probably like it because there are tons of options for pasta, cookies, pie crusts and the like. She does not mention that many of these substitute items contain more calories and fewer nutrients than their glutenous counterparts.
Perhaps Nightline feels about Hasselbeck the same way many Americans do, because they immediately headed to Columbia University to talk to a doctor about how there are no benefits in a gluten-free diet for someone who is not gluten-intolerant. Not only is there no guaranteed weight loss, he said, but it is probably bad for you and can be dangerous. People who are on the diet because they have to be probably know that it lacks fiber and you don’t get the vitamins and minerals most wheat flours are fortified with.
I know first-hand that if you’re on a GF diet long-term you can become B vitamin deficient, calcium deficient and iron deficient.
So, ABC, am I supposed to feel guilty when my friends or family cook and eat gluten-free for me? Am I depriving them of necessary nutrients?
Eh, probably not.
But Nightline did highlight one great thing about the gluten-free fad that I’ve mentioned before: For those without a choice, the world is getting a lot tastier.