You Think Gluten-Free Automatically Means Healthy? Chew on This.

the chew gluten free fad

So I’m at the doctor’s office last week filling out the usual 37 pages of forms that I’ve filled out 83 times before. In the waiting room, The Chew is showing on the TV.

I don’t pay too much attention to it…until I hear the word “gluten” and my celiac ears are intrigued.

The question posed was this: Should the average person at home cut gluten out of their diets?

Interesting question and was curious of their response. Well, only one person responded. It was Michael Symon and yowsa did he have some strong feelings on the matter.

Check this out…

(If you can’t see the above video, click here.)

Kudos to Michael for shouting out the truth. Backs up pretty much I everything I said on my “Stop Eating Gluten Free Foods” post.

I love his passion. I love the fact he mentions gluten intolerance (though selfishly, would have loved to hear celiac get a shout out). I love how he takes down highly processed food.

We live in a strange world folks where everyone is looking for a shortcut, for that one magic solution, to lose weight. And in the past few years, that shortcut has been “gluten-free”.

Newsflash: There are no shortcuts. Eat less. Exercise more. Everything in moderation.

And if eating gluten-free makes you feel better, by all means go for it.

Just don’t get sucked into the BS that just because it’s gluten-free, it’s automatically healthier.

(Stepping off my soapbox….now.)

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39 thoughts on “You Think Gluten-Free Automatically Means Healthy? Chew on This.”

  1. Oh so true!!! It seems that in America it is even worse than in the UK. I think people are beginning to realise that eating a gluten-free diet is not a shortcut to good health…unless it means cooking from scratch and avoiding gluten replacements! The big worry for me in the gluten-free diet is the amount of rice that you inadvertantly consume. I think it may be better in the USA since you have been worried about arsenic in rice for longer than it has been an issue here (or not an issue for most people), but bringing up a coeliac child I see it as a huge issue. It is very hard to avoid in the UK. I have written (ranted) about it a fair bit on my blog and will continue to do so until people take notice!!!

    1. I eat alot of rice too and have been thinking about this lately too. Rice grown in the Mississippi valley is high in arsenic due to pesticides used on cotton for decades, so its not just naturally occuring.

        1. It depends on how much you eat it. I went through a period where all I could eat was rice, plain chicken and chicken broth. Well, blood tests at my doctor to determine what was happening with my body showed an uptick in arsenic. After we got the food issues I was dealing with resolved, and I cut WAY back on the rice (Who would want to look at rice after how much I’d had to eat?), those arsenic levels dropped back down to a healthy, normal range.

  2. So true. Gluten-free processed foods in general have less fiber and three times the calories. I found a wonderful gluten-free muesli in a brief British stopover a few years back. I wish I had bought enough to fill a suitcase!

  3. I agree wholeheartedly. A gluten free diet far is from synonymous with a healthy diet.
    Mario’s example of a gluten free meal is the gold standard of what we should be striving for. Homemade meals involving whole foods that are heavy on the veggies with leaner proteins and less processed junk is healthy eating at its best.
    But it’s also good to know that the stores are packed with unhealthy gluten free products so that the celiac community can fall off the wagon once in a while like the rest of our peers.

  4. He is spot on. Love it!

    A few weeks back, I got my dad to try a gluten free animal cracker. He looked at me and said “it tastes alright, but all it is is sugar.” I’ve noticed that more and more lately with my Betty Crocker cake mixes too. I try not to overload on gf replacement foods, but you’ve got to have something for birthdays and special occasions every now and then. No cake is going to be that healthy, gluten free or not. But it seems like there should be some options out there that aren’t just loaded with sugar and other crap to make them more palatable. There’s a way to do that with more natural ingredients, but the big food companies haven’t figured that out and don’t really care to take the time because it wouldn’t be profitable.

    1. It’s funny…when I was early diagnosed, I bitched and moaned about how expensive gluten free food was. But when it’s done right (read…NOT processed crap in a dedicated facility), yes, it’s going to be more expensive. And I’m willing to pay for it.

      1. Yeah…..unfortunately. 🙂

        I thought they were great at first too – when I was first diagnosed and thought I’d never have cake again. I had never baked before in my life but faced with that prospect, I learned. But the more I eat those cakes, the less I like them because of all the sugar. Damnit celiac! Forcing me to eat all healthy and stuff!

  5. Now THIS is how I want to hear about GF in the media. I’ve never heard of this show or guy before (is he one of us?) but damn, he just makes sense and it’s SO refreshing.

    He hits all the right notes in almost just one single breath: (a) some people need GF as a medical necessity (I agree with you on the celiac angle but strictly we’re a subset of the group he identified so I don’t feel snubbed), (b) it’s become a ridiculous fad for people who have no need for it and just want a quick fix to their lives, and (c) natural GF — not the fake, overprocessed crap — is the way to go GF if you must.

    And just as great, the audience applauded him (as I was, too, from behind my keyboard).

    Contrast this with the DREADFUL messaging of Doctor Oz when he was on with Seth Myers earlier this year. A *world* of difference! Can we get rid of Oz and give this guy his own show instead?

      1. Interestingly, that blond to the left of this guy (the one with common sense) is Dr Oz’s daughter. And BTW, this guy has it right. Real food. Real food. That’s all!

  6. The only issue I have is he calls the GF movement a “FAD”, which is to say – don’t take it seriously, it will pass. This is a disservice to everyone battling Celiac or Gluten Intolerance. He saves himself a little by saying eat a better, well-balanced meal , naturally GF, but . . . he says it kinda quickly toward the end of the clip. So, he’s advocating less GF choices in the supermarket – and that is good? I realize it has become a marketing bonanza for manufacturers of food, but, are we better off with no GF food in markets? Oh, I know, we should all eat only those foods on the outside aisles of the store – – or farmers markets – – or, eat from our own garden, but . . . is it so bad to eat some other stuff that is GF? Let’s be pragmatic. And, BTW, I eat mostly natural foods, free from gluten, but, I also eat UDI’s bread, GF crackers, GF cookies, chips, pasta, etc . . . and I haven’t gained weight (and, yes I have Celiac).

  7. Don’t most new products on the shelves get discontinued within a few years, because they don’t sell well? I can’t blame the vested interests of the processing houses for trying to see what sticks to the wall. And gives them a healthy profit margin, too.

    But yeah, most of that stuff is expensive rubbish. I’ve even seen Columbia’s Peter Green say that most of these packaged foods are so empty and fatty that all he gets out of it is reflux. He said that during an event where they these businesses were showing off their goods!

  8. I am 73 years young and live alone. A few months ago I started having some tummy issues that got quickly very uncomfortable. I know my body and health well and decided to see if I could figure out what was causing this discomfort almost every time I ate. I eliminated the most common allergens one at a time for two weeks and if there was no change waited a week and moved on to the next one. Gluten was the last one I had to try. I saw a difference in three days. It has now been six weeks and the thing I miss most is a good slice of toast with peanut butter. Tomorrow I am going to try bread made with GF flour blend.
    When I started on this journey I realized I had gotten very careless about the foods I have been eating. I went back to the way I was brought up 1/2 my plate is veggies and fruit, 1/4 protein and 1/4 grain. Real Food, not processed or preprepared. I am slowly finding replacements for the foods I can’t make. I am fussy – I’ll admit it – but I like good and healthy food. Some that I have tried isn’t fit to feed the pigs! as my grandpa would say.
    Thank you Dude and community for all your help!

      1. Canyon Bakehouse mountain white makes me soooo happy 🙂 It’s like real bread!!

        I have 2 pieces of it toasted every morning (it’s the only thing that doesn’t seem to make me nauseous in the morning)

  9. I think the way to talk about gluten with nons (meaning non-celiac, non-GI folks) is to talk about reducing it, not eliminating it. We all need to increase variety in our diets, and if adding in some healthy, gluten free flours and products into the rotation is workable, its a good thing! But in nons, celiac, and GI folks, we need to make sure to look for the best nutrition available, and that kicks to the curb a lot of those crappy processed foods that Michael talks about. My parents happen to like the granola bars from the local GF bakery, and they make excellent nut based cookies that have no flour in them naturally. Other friends I have love the taste of corn pasta, so they use that and still eat wheat bread. And there’s this crazy vegan restaurant that went GF without anyone knowing it awhile back and no one noticed around where I live. They like it because of the food, not because of the gf status. Its finding balance and variety in a pretty bland/low nutrition typical American diet.

    Kudos for a Food Network guy actually learning about the food and learning how to talk intelligently about it! I wish more chefs were like him.

  10. Always happy to see things moving in the right direction. I’m one of them that thinks people DO benefit from removing gluten from the diet – wheat, for example, IS a highly processed food all on it’s own that is linked to inflammation leading to ailments and diseases of all sorts. My only fear is that the selection of products for people who need them – good products that aren’t just filler – will dwindle when the fad has run its course and people don’t see the benefit in reducing their exposure to gluten. Celiac Disease will take a back seat and people will forget all about it the way they do nut allergies. We’ll be living in a gluten-filled world, with no hope of ever getting a safe meal in a restaurant again.

  11. Good video, but not all gluten free food is made from crap flours. That said, I chanced some gluten free rice cereal from Arrowhead Mills (organic, too) this morning. I haven’t bought gf processed food in quite awhile, besides my bread made at a dedicated gf facility near where I live. Even with that, I don’t eat it often. Anyway, the cereal was certified gf. I got sick within 45 minutes of finishing the bowl. So much for even certified gf always being safe for ALL Celiacs. So, it is back to eating as he suggested, which is pretty much what I had to do to get my numbers into normal. As for losing weight going gf? Not happening. I was always a low carb person but have had weight probs my whole life. Celiac symptoms showed up not too far from when I started gaining weight at 7 years of age. After going gf, I hoped the weight would go normal. On a high carb day I get maybe 70 gms. The usual is about 40. I ride a bike daily 2 1/2 miles (have an indoor for when it rains or is too cold) I have a morning and evening exercise routine on top of that. I eat no more than 1500 calories a day. No refined sugar. Fresh, organic veggies, fruits, small meat portions, nuts and seeds and cheeses. But for some reason, I still can’t lose weight. So, I really hate it when someone says if you eat right and exercise you will not be overweight, or that eating gf will help you lose weight. We all have different DNA, and maybe the fact that my thyroid was nuked 28 years ago (Grave’s) and doctors have treated my resultant hypothyroidism by one stupid blood test instead of symptoms might have something to do with my problem. Maybe the fact that I was totally deficient in so many vitamins and minerals has something to do with it. I don’t know. But I am pretty sick of being accused of sitting on a couch with a gallon of ice cream in hand (I hate ice cream) while I watch TV all day long (on a heavy TV watching day it is 2 hours at night) because I am still overweight. If some people can eat tons of processed foods and sugary beverages (no, I don’t drink sodas, either, or alcohol) while being very inactive and not gain weight (my husband), why can’t the opposite be true for some others? But yeah, junk food is junk food, whether it is gf or not.

  12. Hello, the rice thing; super high in carbs which nicely turns into fat. Previous diabetes educator and that was a big concern when dealing with blood sugars. I love rice, eat it with lots of dishes but not a bucket full every time

  13. Mariann Offtermatt

    While the comments made on the show about the reduced nutritional value, the increased sugar and the processed foods on the grocery store shelves are valid I take exception to the lecturing of a restauranteur who offers very little on his own restaurant menus that would be appropriate for someone on a gluten-free diet due to Celiac Disease. For those of us who cook most of our meals at home and are not eating packaged processed foods eating out in restaurants – especially in Cleveland OH where Mr. Symon has a significant presence – is difficult due to inadequate options and preparations.

  14. I agree, I would have loved for Michael Symon to give us Celiacs a shout-out but at least he didn’t discredit that there are people with real gluten issues like some OTHER famous people that we all know of but won’t mention..

    ANY-WAY, I do appreciate the passion behind his rant. Sometimes if you catch me at the right moment, I might go off on my own little rant about processed gluten free foods. It is nice to have these options from time to time when we want a little treat or we are out and about and have no other choice. But that being said, packaged gluten free foods should never be a staple in a Celiac’s diet or anyone’s diet for that matter.

    People often ask me “What can you eat?” I tell them that when I go to the grocery store, I mainly shop the perimeter of the store and buy real and whole foods. I only walk down a few isles for specific ingredients. Most people can agree that that sounds good but it depends on who asks! haha

  15. I loved that he had actual statistics in his arsenal to use for his argument. People ask me all the time if they should go gluten free, or they say that everyone should be gluten free. I disagree with that whole heartedly. If your body is fine processing gluten, why cut it out? Pseudoscience has given people a lot of incorrect information, and it’s now hard to separate fact from fiction. I think we need more real research into whether or not gluten is bad for all, but until that time, keep eating it if you can. Some people are concerned about the hybridization of wheat over the past century or two. Well, then stick to ancient grain types. But, why cut out gluten? I’d eat gluten if I could.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

Who I am. And who I'm not.

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.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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