Who's a Better Celiac Spokesperson: Elizabeth Hasselbeck or Dr. Peter Green?

celiac spokesperson

Just watch the following video and you tell me who you’d rather be representing the celiac community.

Elizabeth Hasselbeck says gluten-free is good for everyone and we should be “replacing” our old diet with the same gluten-free foods. Dr. Peter Green, noted celiac expert, not so much.

Who do you believe?

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36 thoughts on “Who's a Better Celiac Spokesperson: Elizabeth Hasselbeck or Dr. Peter Green?”

  1. I might venture to say neither… Though Dr. Green did speak from a more scientific place, he literally just supported the claim that it would be dangerous to remove wheat from your diet do to it’s fortification. That whole ridiculous notion also hurts the GF world because a healthy GF diet can exist naturally by eating whole foods (which happen to be GF). Maybe that’s not all he said, but that’s what was used. Both aren’t great and that’s my two cents.

  2. Hasselback by a mile! My dad has celiac disease. I went on the diet for 3 days soon after he told me of his diagnosis, to see what he was dealing with so I could still cook for him and be better informed. For 2 years I had been seeing a chiropractor for debilitating back pain, and on day three 75% of that pain had disappeared. I’d never discussed my IBS problems with anyone, but those also disappeared. I had been diagnosed anemic and was taking iron…that went away. I also had suffered from anxiety and depression, and my mood dramatically improved and energy levels rose. My allergies improved. I also lost 40 pounds over the next year (probably because I could move and be active again, not from the elimination of wheat). If the doctor says there is no scientific evidence that people who don’t have celiac disease could benefit from a gluten free diet, then he is just simply willfully ignorant. If he is a supposed celiac “expert” he should know about people with gluten sensitivities. I tested negative for celiac with both blood test and endoscopic biopsy, and yet all of these things improved for me on a gluten-free diet. The Doctor does not know what he’s talking about.

        1. Don’t worry about it. I had my last blood test about two years ago. Since it is genetic, and can pop up at any time, I plan to get a blood test done every 2-5 years. The problem is I have to eat gluten to get a reliable read on the blood test. Unlike celiacs, I guess I have the option to eat gluten if I want to…but when I cheated with some mac and cheese about 6 months in, I paid for it. My back hurt so bad I could barely breathe on my dog walk…that time lasted about a week, but I usually recover from a glutening after about 3 days. Pasta is the worst killer. It also seems like volume may be an issue for me. But I do have it better than celiacs, because when my dad gets glutened he’s under the weather for about 2 weeks. I’m only about 3 days usually. Dr. Alessio Fasano from the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment has done a good amount of research on sensitivity as well as celiac, so that doctor in the video is not paying attention. And, yes it’s annoying to hear people talk about it as a fad, or a weight loss diet. It’s a serious health issue for people, so it was odd to hear Hasselback call it a fad. But it doesn’t hurt to eliminate and reintroduce it just to see if your health improves.

          1. Where is the second video? Apparently I must have missed a lot of what the doctor said if there is a second video. And one more thing…the assertion that you won’t get enough fiber on a gluten-free diet is absurd. Only if all you eat is meat and potatoes.

            1. Even if you eat meat and potatoes. Potatoes have a lot of soluble fiber in them–supposedly they’re even helpful to weight loss. =0)

          2. you probably have an intolerance to gluten at least. i’m all for people going off gluten if it helps them in any way, and it seems to have made a big difference for you. i have celiac and i take about 3-4 days to recover from being glutened, although some of the less severe symptoms can stay aggravated for longer. this whole gluten free craze has really misinformed people though. i feel like stories like this just help spread misinformation. i now have people telling me about my disease…it’s all a bunch of bull shit too. the other day a woman told me i should get tested to see how sensitive i am because some people with celiac are totally fine with cross contamination. when i tried informing her of her mistake, she argued with me and told me i was the one who was misinformed not her. in my head i was thinking “PLEASE tell me more about my disease ma’am. your lack of phd and even living with the disease you are talking about makes everything you say even more credible” *rolls eyes*

            1. I obviously have a gluten intolerance, but since there is no real test for it for verification some people don’t take me seriously, much like people don’t take celiacs seriously. I finally saw the full video. The doctor is so wrong about people being malnourished on a gluten free diet. That’s just crazy talk. Historically, humans have not been consuming a wheat centric, or grain centric, diet for a llarge portion of our evolutionary history. Our bodies should be able to function just fine without any wheat at all. http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/07/grains-and-human-evolution.html

              At least Hasselback is telling people there are some good options out there, and give it a try and see if you feel better. The doctor is telling people they could get sick if they try it…that’s ridiculous.

  3. I’ve complained about this before (probably here), but as much as I dislike the willy-nilly promotion of a gluten-free diet for people with any ailment or even no particular ailment, I dislike even more the idea, repeated over and over again in this video, that a gluten-free diet is “dangerous” or “unhealthy.”

    Yes, if someone gets no nutrients in their diet besides those put into white flour during processing, that person might be nutrient-deficient after going gluten-free. But if an already health-conscious person goes gluten-free and continues to eat whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, and healthful protein sources, that person is probably going to be okay. Better than before going gluten-free? Who knows.

    I love the folks at Columbia, and Peter Green is obviously an expert and a great advocate, but come on! You don’t need to eat refined wheat flour to be healthy.

    1. I agree! I like Elisabeth, but her message is a little off. Dr. Green is also a little off. I think it is good to have varying points of view. My fear is that people will latch on to one idea. (ie be fearful to try a gluten free diet because a doctor said it was unsafe.)

  4. I think the truth is in the middle really. Tons of people are having weight loss success with the “gluten free diet” but they are not really gluten free most of them. I believe that eating “better” than they were is what is responsible for the weight loss in a lot of cases. Can a “gf” diet make a lot of people feel better, more energy etc. well, probably. Cutting down on wheat/gluten consumption is a really good idea for a lot of people – in general eliminating anything entirely is not a good idea unless you have to, but cutting back can be helpful.

    An example – if your typical breakfast is a double double coffee and a donut, changing that to a single singls and oatmeal – well over time you will lose weight – the second is the better choice in terms of calories, etc. – and that is just one little thing.

    As spokespersons for the Celiac community the two are pretty equal in my eyes. I think what the community needs is someone who is a little more middle of the road than either of them. She proposes the whole world does it because it is wonderful for everyone, and he seems to come down on the side of if you are not a celiac don’t do it at all. Neither are totally right, one size does not fit all so as a single spokesperson I would not choose either 🙂

  5. I think trying gluten free for a month is a good idea for many to find out if they have an issue with it… but man am I sick of celebrities making it so trendy. Especially the ones who clearly still eat gluten and don’t have to worry about it in lesser amounts – makes light of how serious it is for the rest of us.
    I even explained to a family this weekend about my DH. They were surprised because they just thought it was a hippie/trendy fad/helicopter parenting thing 🙁

    Also, being gf doesn’t need to be some big consumer effort… there’s tons of naturally gf foods that are the best for you! Leafy greens, anybody? Or why doesn’t she show case making your own gluten free foods since so many at the store are of a poor quality, expensive and with lots of weird/unreadable ingredients. I refuse to pay $7 for a loaf of sub par bread or pack of cookies, I’ll make my own for a fraction of that, thank you very much.

    end rant…

  6. Real Food Man

    Here’s your sign:
    Grain products are fortified with vitamins and minerals.
    Guess why! They have very little nutritional value on their own.
    Going gluten free could certainly be dangerous. Grains are a huge
    percentage of the average persons diet. Take grains out of the equation and see what happens world wide. Prices on real food
    will soar and there would be shortages. If you can eat grains then
    more power to you. Save the real food for those of us who need it.
    Sorry, I am hungry!

    Note: as far as the so called gluten free foods made to taste like
    the stuff you should not be eating anyway. No thank you! Been down that road.

  7. I watched the videos while eating breakfast. Had to shift gears and do something else because everytime I thought about voting, the cringe factor was overwhelming. Both vidoes were sickening. Last night a person that I thought I knew pretty well was talking about working in a bakery (french bread, pastries, etc.), I usually keep my mouth shut about having Celiac disease. Well, I thought she was a safe person and didn’t want to keep faking my way through the “what are your favorite bakery goods conversation”. When I mentioned I can’t eat gluten because of Celiac disease, she shot back with,” oh gosh you’re one of those”. I hate myself for breaking my rule (don’t bother telling anyone) and then standing there trying to defend myself. Most people don’t give a rats ass! When will I evr learn?

  8. I don’t think either of them were all that informative. Esp., if someone who was watching, was trying to understand celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. I can get plenty of fiber without having to eat processed fortified bread. Avocado’s, almonds, prunes…a lot of natural food that are GF have plenty of fiber. I have celiac disease, and gained weight after eliminating gluten from my diet. ? I don’t feel 100%, and don’t think I ever will.. I still get bouts of DH. I think what needs to be discussed is celiac disease. This is an auto-immune disorder, and unless we live in a bubble we are going to get glutened every so often, and our bodies obviously are going to react. The disease is never going to go away. Some of us have permanent health problems from years of un-diagnosed celiac. What about that?

    I personally don’t think anyone with celiac disease should suggest everyone try going gluten free. Hasselbeck is hassling the general public.

  9. Neither. Neither. Neither. Hasselbeck makes it seem like a fad.

    On the other hand, this doctor does not seem to have any idea that there is a large minority of the population that is gluten-intolerant. (A study released in 2012, by Boston University, said that up to 19% of the population has some degree of gluten-intolerance.)

    I’m a celiac from a family of people with gluten-intolerance. My intolerance to tiny amounts of gluten is worse, but in some ways, our reactions are very similar.

    The only difference that I can tell is that I got a lot sicker before I got my diagnosis, and I have a biopsy that shows an elevated white cell count, whereas they just get sick from eating wheat, without obvious intestinal damage.

    This doctor is doing a huge disservice to people who are gluten-intolerant.

  10. These reports are so far off base when it comes to educating people on Celiacs or gluten-free. I cannot believe that the best that they can do is interview Elizabeth H and Dr. Green. There are other experts in the field and clearly both these two are misinformed. First off, if you are eating a gluten-free diet and you are not getting enough fiber then your diet stinks and it has nothing to do with gluten-free. If all the wheat in this country disappeared tomorrow, the replacement grains would suffice and no one would be malnourished because frankly the wheat products used in this country are so devoid of nutrients (that is why they are fortified) that they are barely a food product anymore. There are other foods that will provide the essential nutrients since they are not in bagels, pie crusts, cookies, biscuits, or crackers etc. anyway. Next up, to say that the gluten-free is not healthy for non-celiacs is just nonsense. There is no basis for a statement like this and basic nutrition information would negate that comment. Eating fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and reducing sugar and low glycemic carbs would be good for everyone. And if you can include dairy and eggs you will bump up your nutrition with little work and trouble.
    We need someone with knowledge to speak for the community not celebrities and specialists who are ill prepared or ill informed. It is getting tiring to hear all these nonsensical little soundbites and fluff pieces – they are doing a disservice to the needs of the celiac and g-intolerant community and making us sound like pitiful whiners!

  11. Yeah, from one extreme to the other, which is never good, I vote for neither.

    “Everyone in the world is being made sick by gluten and should be gluten-free!” Er, probably not, and minimizes the real damage between done to a portion (10%-ish?) of the population, when you include those with NCGS, a very real condition if only the medical community could get with it.

    This brings me to Dr. Green, who, along with this reporter, could do the world a favor and mention NCGS, and the fact that there are many people who indeed do not just benefit from, but need the gluten-free diet, even if they are not officially “celiac”. I’ve read his book and it just feels dated by only really acknowledging celiac, and also contains several inaccuracies.

    If you’re balancing between the two, I have to say I lean towards Hasselbeck, because the dangers of eating gluten are far greater for those with NCGS than the supposed dangers of being gluten-free (which, as stated above, if you eat properly and healthily is not dangerous at all).

  12. Both interviews got me upset. I believe a lot of people are better of without it. Who really knows the numbers of people out there with undiagnosed gluten intolerance and celiac? I worry about this a lot. But encouraging people to go gluten free without them being educated on what actually contains gluten, hidden gluten sources and sources of cross contamination is counter productive. I know off at least three people who have told me they tried going gluten free due to bloating/cramping issues. They all gave it a couple weeks but cheated with the occasional beer, ate cross contaminated french fries etc and then they concluded gluten wasn’t an issue. Going gluten free and not doing it right or not taking it seriously enough for someone who has genuine gluten issues is only going to convince them it’s not the problem.
    Hasselbeck is too care free about it and Dr. Green makes it sound dangerous both of which are the worst impressions to give someone with undiagnosed gluten intolerance or celiac .

  13. Peter Green. If you don’t have Celiac Disease, go have a sandwich and a beer. Just sayin. Maybe Paleo gluten free may be a better way to go. Low carbohydrate. Atkins was vilified by the medical profession, but I felt better on a low carb diet.

  14. Dr. Green IS Elizabeth’s doctor…she credits him to her diagnosis and devoting his career to Celiac…
    Dr. Green WAS my doctor…thank goodness I knew better…

    (source: I received Elizabeth’s cookbook(as a gift) where she mentions her wonderful doctor)

  15. Indeed they both have done a lot of positive things for the gluten free lifestyle. But now let’s look deeper and analyze this….
    Dr. Green is in fact limited in what he can say without riling his peer group in medicine, which is the reality of that situation. I doubt that under other circumstances, such as practicing in his native Australia as opposed to practicing with a big institution in New York City, he would fail to be a bold spokesperson in standing up for Celiacs. Medical politics in this country is extremely rigid. And in order to go against decades of medical miseducation on the topic of Celiac Sprue, Dr. Green would have to sacrifice his neck to save his moral certainty–it’s just not worth it. Elisabeth has used her fame to spread the word on the diet and has a snack bar named after her which isn’t half bad. But I would place her nowhere above every other woman who has driven the gluten free market into an example of the market meeting demand and thus improving food choices for us Celiacs. So the answer is Elisabeth “but the playing field is uneven.” It’s not a fair fight between these two in a very large sense— but the main thing is the fight keeps being won.

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I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

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