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I Just Told Off Michael Pollan On Behalf Of The Celiac Community...

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... for Tweeting this:




I teach his works in my food politics/animal rights classes, and I think that a public figure as himself should be held accountable to a modicum of responsibility.

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I must have missed something? I didn't think it was bad. At least twice they said you have to be careful but can eat healthy on a gluten-free diet. They said, basically, its not a fad weight loss diet but some people need to eat that way. gluten-free replacements are generally lower in fiber and added nutrients.

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I thought it was a pretty good article too. If one was to 'go on the gluten free bandwagon' and eat/buy the expensive gluten-free options (chips, some breads, waffles, cookies)....it is not a healthier diet. Some of the gluten-free options out there are simple carbs without much nutrition...and are very calorie dense compared to their gluten equivalents.


However - the 'smart way' to go gluten-free is to eat more complex carbs - potatoes, yams, veggies, breads that are more complex (LOVE Udi's Chia bread), etc. It is not a weight loss diet - should never be a weight loss diet. It should only be a diet to follow if gluten is a problem for you (celiac, sensitivity).


I have run into a few people who are 'gluten free' and don't know what it is - a waitress who told me the teriyaki chicken was safe, the person who says whole wheat is ok, the other person who says just pick off the croutons, just eat the top of the pie, etc. Way too much MIS information !

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I don't have a problem with the intention of the piece, ie. to say that gluten-free diets are not weight-loss diets; I have a huge problems with the sloppy rhetoric of the article, which actually ends up reinforcing, rather than counteracting, the idea that gluten-free people are people on a fad diet, rather than people who are sick. SO the problem is really that its faulty rhetoric backfires the author's own intention, thus creating more confusion than anything else.


What this article does is reinforce the perception that the "many Americans" choosing to cut out gluten from their lives are doing it because of a health craze or a fad diet rather than clear up the misinformation. I don't need to explain to anyone on this boards why that is a problem.


"About 1 percent of the population has celiac disease." True-ish, if we want to assume it is OK that someone writing on gluten-free diet then offers this queer definition of NCGS: "people with gluten sensitivity, who may feel better when they eat less gluten, WebMD says." Which is and oversimplification and a misunderstanding of what Dr. Fasano and peers mean by speculating that NCGS people are lucky enough not to get the cascade of additional diseases brought on by autoimmune responses. 


But let's see, who's her main source? A dietitian. What did this dietitian write, that's conveniently linked in the article via Amazion?

Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations. Lose Weight and Get Healthy Without Dieting.

From the Amazon description:


"The secret to losing weight and keeping it off for good is simple. It’s the small, easy changes you make in eating that have the most dramatic and lasting results. Diet Simple is the only program that shows you exactly which changes to make and how much weight you can expect to lose. Learn how to replace fat-laden habits you’ll never miss, make substitutions you’ll relish, and retool your mind to view eating in a whole new way. All in a style that’s fresh, entertaining, and fun." Here’s just a taste of what you’ll discover inside:

  • How singing in the shower can help you lose 26 pounds.
  • How visiting “Old MacDonald” can help your kids lose 10 pounds.
  • How your alarm clock can help you lose 14 pounds.
  • How “Batch” Recipes can help you lose 40 pounds.

Thank god a personality show dietitian wrote this book of mindblowing suggestions I would never find elsewhere in the internets, or Cosmo.


Let's take a peek at what's inside. The linked book must have a section in which she breaks down the gluten-drama for celiacs, non-celiacs, and uncertain people in between, which could not make it in the word-count of the article. Search: "gluten."


ONE hit. On a chicken soup that magically becomes gluten-free if you hold the baguette. I double-check with the search and index features to make sure that I haven't missed stuff on the copyrighted pages. I try with wheat - must be related, right? All wheat occurrences are about the old "hearth healthy whole grains." Bravo! Maybe I'm sour because I am an amateur baker and used to love the fragrance of whole wheat. But, hey, maybe that gets me off the hook, too, because I don't technically "hate" wheat (and I mostly had eikorn and emmer varieties back in the day), barley, or rye - it's just that my love isn't reciprocated. 


So to recap: Ms. Rettner is a bit confused about what NCGS is, and couldn't be bothered to get a more specific source that WebMD, and uses as a source on gluten a dietitian that barely mentions the problem in the book referenced by the article itself. In my class, that gets a C- :ph34r:


What next? The concern, laudable in itself is that "people who unnecessarily shun gluten may do so at the expense of their health, Tallmadge said.

That's because whole grains, which contain gluten, are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, Tallmadge said. Gluten-free products are often made with refined grains, and are low in nutrients. If you embrace such a diet, you'll end up "eating a lot of foods that are stripped of nutrients," Tallmadge said. Studies show gluten-free diets can be deficient in fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc, she said."


There are two problems in the passage above: one is the content, the other is the rhetoric.


1) The content: the source allegedly harps on the old "fiber issue" - as if vegetables, fruits, and seeds had no fiber. Fair enough, I guess people like whole-wheat bread more than they like lettuce and raspberries, in which case why are they looking for diet advice? And you see all those absent micro-nutrients listed above? Well, guess what? Most flours, yes, even whole-wheat flours, have them ADDED back in artificially because they have been stripped of it in the processing.


So yes, junk food is junk food is junk food - but the author is making it seem as if gluten-free=junk and non-gluten-free=whole foods, and we all know that's not the case. There are, as NorthernElf suggested, whole options of gluten-free products. But above all, all those micronutrients can be obtained from whole plants and animals - no need for bread of gluten-free products of any kind. Obviously this seems to be not an option. I wonder who is it that benefits, in terms of money, from that... 


2) The rhetoric: did you notice that? All that the article-writer knows about gluten can be summarized in "that's what she said" - she being the dietitian who doesn't write on gluten at all, because she writes on weight loss. Nothing wrong with that, but having a popular weight-loss authority speak about why you don't need/should not cut out gluten implicitly reinforces the popular perception that "gluten-free people are just trying to lose weight by being posh and a pain in the neck, and they don't even know how to lose weight," because in this article the people who need to eat gluten-free are first marked as the smallest minority and then shoved off at the very bottom of the piece/second page, where no real "new information" is given.


Then there's this:


'"You can eat a healthy diet without gluten, but you have to be very knowledgeable, and most people aren't," Tallmadge said. People who go gluten-free may feel better because, to avoid the protein, they end up cutting out desserts and junk foods, thus losing weight. "They mistakenly attribute that to their gluten-free decision," Tallmadge said.'


Thank you for giving all the people who roll their eyes when we have to ask "is this gluten free?" another reason to not to take us seriously, because we'd be "ok" if we just ate less junk. <_<  And, oh, yes, how patronizing is that? "Most people aren't knowledgeable enough to get nutrients on a gluten-free diet? And who should be responsible for getting actual nutrition education across to the unknowledgeable masses? (I can see the dry bushes rolling on the desert sand as the only voice that answer is the wind).


The implication is that people are ignorant about food, and because they are ignorant about food, they need Big Government subsidized enriched whole wheat bread to save them, because they'll do it wrong if they try and get folate - which, as the words itself suggests, is available a-plenty in leafy greens - without whole wheat flour. Michael, advocate of the "eat food" rule, how did THIS escape your otherwise always discerning eye? :wacko:


Thankfully, someone comes to save us all: "'Heather Mangieri, a nutrition consultant and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, agreed. "There's nothing magical about eliminating gluten that results in weight loss," Mangieri said. Any of us that eliminates or removes cookies and candies from our diets, and replaces them with fruits and vegetables is going to feel better."


This sounds good, doesn't it? Isn't that what I myself have been ranting about in the previous paragraph? Another world-recognized expert who published in "Self" and "Men's Health" saves us from the stupidity of gluten-free people by spitting out truisms about how cookies and candy will make you fat. :angry:  Do you see the what is the only connection that matters? gluten-free-weight loss, gluten-free-weight loss, gluten-free-weight loss. Do we really need that? 


So while the article intends to say "Stop freaking out people! Not everyone is going to die if they eat gluten! Also, it won't make you any thinner!" - which we all agree upon - the way in which it is written does nothing but reinforce the misinformed audience's perception that when someone says they are gluten-free they are on a "fad diet" - which is unfortunately proved by some comments on his FB page.


Sorry this is more like a long rant! But I did feel for those on here that are very sensitive and have to endure carelessness and mockery precisely because of the supposed faddism that articles like this reinforce rather than counteract. And that. is. just. irresponsible.


I'll shut up now. :)

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Ok...all I had to read was the article...not sure about all the other stuff. So, for me, the article seemed fair. Actually, better than a lot of them.

The part about being knowledgeable applies to the fad dieters. We are knowledgeable. The fact that he says it can be a healthy diet if you know what you are doing, puts this article a notch above other articles I have read.

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I see what you mean BC.  I thought the article was negative towards gluten free diets.  The suggestion that it is hard to eat gluten free and eat healthy is wrong IMHO.  If all those gluteny foods are so healthy for people why are there so many of them sick with IBS, gerd, etc?  I don't buy it.

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The original Pollan tweet said this:

"Take Heed, All you glutenphobes: Most People Shouldn't Eat Gluten Free: Scientific American bit.ly.YgaiuD "


The Pollan tweet BEFORE that one, said this:

"Weigh in with your senators -- last chance to fix farm bill's cuts to sustainable ag and conservation programs. - NSAC bit.ly/16nhMQN "


Notice how Pollan said "sustainable," not "organic." Although the link does finally mention farm current year 2013 organics programs left without funding, "Sustainable" is the new catchy buzzword being used by the GMO lobby. And the GMO lobby does not like truth-in-food-labeling.

Since Michael Pollan, the NYTimes author, is a near-vegetarian, ("eat mostly plants" - "single best? whole grains") who still prefers to think that the great unwashed masses going vegetarian is going to "save the world," and he has a past history of making deliberately nasty and ill informed comments regarding gluten free dieting ("could it really be that bread, a staple of Western civilization for 6,000 years, is suddenly making millions of us sick? I'm dubious." 10/2/2011, NYT Magazine, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/10/02/magazine/29mag-food-issue.html#/pollan ) :ph34r: I would not cut him an inch of slack. In this current media PR campaign by the Big Ag lobby, combined with the wheat and GMO lobbies to make sure they get maximum money out of the new farm bill budget, they are going to be pulling out all the stops.

For "Scientific American" to have put out such a shoddily researched article is shocking.

____ ---- _____

Here's another recent story showing up in another popular "science" type magazine, Discovery's online version from March 8, 2013, with more quotes from a "registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics" named Dee Sandquist :

Gluten Free: Is it a fad or a Healthy Diet ?

http://news.discovery.com/human/health/gluten-free-is-it-a-fad-or-healthy-diet-130307.htm by Sheila M Eldred


There are also some nutritional challenges in a gluten-free diet: people can find themselves deficient in iron, calcium, B-vitamins and vitamin D, Sandquist said. It can be hard to get enough fiber in a gluten-free diet. Also, it’s expensive.


Only 1 percent of the population has celiac disease, and 6 percent are gluten-sensitive, although it might seem like more, with celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Gwyneth Paltrow talking about it. And many people are self-diagnosing themselves with gluten sensitivity, Sandquist said.

Did I miss something there, when WHEAT PROTEIN was considered to be the human's prime source of iron, calcium, B- vitamins, and vitamin D ?

Because none of that is true. The only reason triticum family gluten-bearing cereal and bread products have these in significant amounts, is that they might be enriched with them or made with other ingredients which have them.

I did some very rudimentary searches on this dietitian's comments on gluten free, and she has been getting her name cited for several years now along with the same thing that many other "supermarket consultant" dietitians say about gluten free: it's expensive, it's not healthy, it's low in fiber, it's lacking vitamins and minerals. See here, where Sundquist calls it "also currently a fad diet," back in June 2010. http://www.foodnutritionscience.com/index.cfm/do/monsanto.article/articleId/434.cfm and look who the sponsor of that was ! on the upper right side, it's good old Monsanto.

(She has been quoted in Media as the "HyVee grocery" dietician when making these comments on the gluten free diet.) But there is more to it, than that, which is why this is so disturbing. "Dee Sandquist, MS, RD, LD, CDE" is also listed as a media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/Media/Spokespeople.aspx?id=6984 where it says:

Sandquist is a former president of the Southwest Washington District Dietetic Association and worked on the Academy's Evidence Analysis Project for Celiac Disease and Agriculture and Sustainable Food Production.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Project for Celiac Disease is part of what the Federal Govt and the NIH of the United States is using to develop gluten free standards. Here she is listed on the workgroup members page with the other RD's such as Cynthia Krupper, M. Dennis, A.R. Lee, M. Sharrett, and Patricia S.Thompson : http://andevidencelibrary.com/topic.cfm?cat=1403

When people selectively use your quotes to imply that a known, scientifically verified, medical treatment such as recommending a gluten free diet is not really necessary, not nutritious, or faddish, then one would EXPECT that someone listed as a co- author at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics of the Celiac Disease's Evidence Analysis Project would be interested that the final version not sound like this puff piece in Discovery magazine which makes it all sound like we're just trying to lose a few pounds for bikini season. :angry:

It's not enough to say that you contributed to a study in the past. What matters is what you are doing today to make sure that what the people who eat today, who need to eat gluten free, have access to and can afford gluten free food without cross contamination, and without ridicule. One would think with nearly a third of the population carrying genes that can lead just to celiac, and with the stunning rise in (acknowledged) gluten intolerance and self selection of gluten free foods in SPITE of the cost, there would be some sense of urgency in getting this right in the public perception, before it becomes an even bigger health crisis.


the above blockquotes to Pollan's twitters contained shortened bit links to the Scientific American article and another story about the Farm Bill. I don't know why the auto censor didn't like them and put "spammers" in there. I also am sorry I keep failing at making the quote text larger.

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