I have celiac. It was diagnosed when I was three years old because by a stroke of luck, my parents had found a general practitioner who was really on top of things and knew about this virtually unknown condition. I had been very sick, tons of vomiting and diarrhea and my growth had stopped almost completely. The doctor figured it out, prescribing a gluten free diet. It worked and my health improved dramatically.
My short hand for this growing up was no wheat, rye or barley. I'll give you a moment to digest that (sorry). Yeah, eating kind of sucks when you cut those items out. No bread, no cake, no cookies, no pizza. And no beer. That one has never bothered me much since I don't much care for the stuff, but it bothers people to hear it.
My school experience suffered for it. I ate sandwiches on rice cakes, substituting for bread. Kids, and adults believe it or not, make fun of you for that. I ate nothing at birthday parties most of the time. And the cherished pizza on Friday in the cafeteria? Don't get me started.
Slowly we discovered substitutes and reasonable facsimiles of cakes and cookies started to appear in my diet. The consistency of bread remained brick-like unfortunately. I continued to eat the rice cakes for sandwiches and my hot dogs and burgers went naked.
Somewhere in the 1990s I noticed an increase in gluten free products. Health food stores had been for years the only source of the stuff. This generally meant getting a heavy dose of eco-buzzwords and vegan propaganda along with my box of rice flour. Ugh. Dude, I don't care about your ideology. I just want to eat.
But suddenly grocery stores were starting to carry gluten free products. I was delighted. My diet started to improve. I cooked a lot, experimenting to find the best ways to imitate the things I missed most. A dim part of my brain wondered idly what caused the bump in product.
The answer gobsmacked me. There were people in the world who ate gluten free because they felt it was healthier. This was not a concept my brain could wrap around. What would possess someone to put aside perfectly good bread for the gluten free alternative that lacked all the qualities that made bread good in the first place? I met a couple who had adopted this practice and it was a bizarro world moment. They were convinced that gluten, which is what gives bread its consistency, was a poisonous ingredient, in spite of our entire civilization having been built on the stuff. It was making them sick they thought. It was also clear from talking to them that they didn't really understand the subject. They spent a lot of time extolling the virtues of spelt pasta as a gluten free alternative. Pitiful.
Now there are people like me who can't process gluten. It causes the walls of the intestine to break down, along with a host of other problems. Eating gluten tends to make us lethargic, suffer from severe cramps and constant diarrhea. Ignored long enough it tends to touch off cancer, which can lead to death. Not fun. If this is what you face, you put down the gluten and eat the other stuff, lame as it may be. I'm not bitter about this. It's the lot I drew in life and there's nothing to do about it but cope and move on. But man does it annoy me to find people who don't need to eat this way choosing this path.
But I have largely chosen to be annoyed in silence. These folks may be dimmer than a bag of broken light bulbs but their insistence on eating less satisfying food for some imagined health benefit provides me a benefit. It magnifies the percentage of the population that needs to eat gluten free from its rather anemic 1% to something large enough to interest large companies. Those companies smell a market and start churning out product to meet it. I can now buy Gluten Free Bisquick. Gone are the days when I had to endure long speeches from hippies to buy the sort of cake mix that wouldn't have me doubled over in pain. Now I can go into virtually any grocery store and buy Bisquick. That's amazing.
So let me thank you, unnecessarily eating gluten free person. I think you're an idiot, or at least of questionable reasoning ability, but you've helped me to eat better. My intestines thank you. Please continue to spread your gospel. I won't stop you. But I will probably mock you in private.