Minnesota Farmer


Grain of truth, the gluten lie
June 17, 2015, 6:32 am
Filed under: food, gluten | Tags: , , , , ,

I often read book reviews but do not often find time to read the books they talk about.  Because of all the fad talk about gluten in diets and my mom’s celiac this one caught more than the usual interest.

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Author Alan Levinovitz is a religious studies professor who has been dismayed by the proliferation of gluten free everything.  The book is not really all about gluten, but more about our demonizing of foods.  There have been times when MSG, fat, salt, sugar and eggs have all been held forth as bad for us, today it is gluten and GMO’s.  Basically this book is a exposure of the shame based diet fads we see everyday.  His contention is that we feel better on these diets, not because we are actually eating or not eating something, but because we think we should feel better.  Fad diets become a religion.

The basic contention, and I think it is a valid one, is that the power of belief, not the diet, creates the benefit.  The intersection of faith and food is powerful stuff.  If you are sold the belief with the religious zeal of a true believer, no matter what the truth is, you will get better.  For those of us in science, this is irrational.

I’ve watched the changes in food fads for most of my life.  I’ve lived long enough to see many of them go full circle, from bad for you, to good for you and back to bad for you.  The truth of the matter is that for most people the mantra of “all things in moderation” is the best path.  Getting caught up in the latest fad diet is worse for you than choosing to eat sensibly.

I’ve never been much of one for fads.  Once I got past my teens they have not meant much to me.  I find more than a grain of truth in The Gluten Lie.  I think you will too.

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