Gluten Free, Persnickety and Proud

Do you get cross if people assume you’re being picky about your food? It’s not as though diagnosed coeliacs have a real choice, after all; I confess to being very picky indeed about what my coeliac daughter eats….

Today I have a guest post for you from Michael Shaw, discussing just this topic, and arguing that you should be picky and proud of it!

Why Gluten-Free people are more Persnickety

Are you a persnickety eater? If you have a gluten-free diet, or something similarly high-maintenance, chances are you may very well be. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, of course, it’s more a case of reflecting the reality that, at some point, you may become the object of some very mild ridicule: “Oh, you and your fancy, organic-fair trade-locavore-kosher-gluten-free diet.” But I have a theory: secretly, people will be envying your discipline and will.

At what point does the gluten-free movement reach critical mass? It seems like we’re still on our way there, but I’ve been hearing a number of conversations about it on National Public Radio (NPR)-affiliated shows over the last couple months, which perhaps signals something. As long as the public’s knowledge continues to evolve—from getting people to know what gluten is, all the way to getting people to actually start consciously eating less of it in their diet, which is something I strive to enlighten people about at No Flour, No Sugar Diet–we will, collectively, not only lower health care costs, we’ll also lead more satisfying lives.

The latest conversation I caught about gluten came on the killer podcast The Dinner Party Download, during which co-host Brendan spoke with gluten-free baker Erin McKenna of Babycakes NYC, which has bakeries in New York, Los Angeles and Disneyworld (I know- an odd third location indeed). You can listen to the interview here (go to 11:10 in the episode to hear the conversation about gluten)

McKenna does a great job of concisely explaining what gluten is, how she creates healthy substitutes for it in her own baked goods, and why so many people are recognizing gluten intolerances and adopting gluten-free diets.

Things get even better when Brendan suggests that these types of folks – these gluten-free followers and aficionados – might be considered…persnickety. McKenna acknowledges that in fact they are, but points out that these folks fall into two main categories: the parents who are being extra vigilant for the sake of their kids’ health; and the adults who self-diagnose and tend to be obsessed with eating healthy and organic. While this type of adult may very well get on some of their friends’ nerves, in my book, a quest to eat healthy is a noble pursuit indeed, even if does make frequent fodder for teasing.

As a population, some of us tend to be of the school of “I just want to eat what I want to eat” – not worrying about sugars vs. unrefined sugars, industrially-farmed vs. organic, gluten vs. gluten-free, or anything else of the sort.

But at the risk of sounding preachy, I have to point out that part of evolving as a species is making better decisions about what we eat and why. And, unlike so many other things in life, this is one thing that’s well within our own control. So, whether you have kids you simply want to thrive, free of unnecessary intolerances or allergies, or you’re an adult who wants to adopt the healthiest diet you can live with—so as to maximize your energy and the way you feel on an ongoing basis—then think of being persnickety as a badge of honor. And if you happen to take a little light ribbing for it, know that it’s all in good fun, and may even be an opportunity to educate those who could benefit from your insights. Because in addition to being something of a novelty, having a progressive (i.e. unusual) diet can be a great forum for educating those less persnickety than yourself.

Thanks Michael!

Michael Shaw writes about many things gluten-free as well as sugar-free, including suggestions for healthy pancake recipes, at his website, No Flour, No Sugar Diet.

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Lucy is the mother of a coeliac, and has been managing a gluten free diet for her daughter for 20 years - though, to be fair, she does do most of it herself now...

4 thoughts on “Gluten Free, Persnickety and Proud”

  1. Interesting read. Yes, you should be choosy and proud – but so should non gluten-free and non-allergic diners too. I think pickiness is frowned upon here (and I guess in the US?) in a way not encountered on continental Europe, for instance, where showing care and attention over your food choices is considered the norm and an admirable sign of food appreciation.

    Alex Gazzola

  2. Good points, Alex.
    I think pickiness (or careful choosing) is either frowned upon or supported in the U.S., depending on your company.
    thanks for the comment,


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