Gluten Free: Is It Worth the struggle?

Monica Dore, News Editor

There is a story about Marie-Antoinette heartlessly uttering, “Let them eat cake,” when told that her French subjects could not afford to have bread. Although historians have decided that the 18th century royal didn’t actually say these infamous words, I like to imagine that she really did.

When I was a kid, basically anytime we ran out of bread or celebrated a birthday, my dad would say, “Let them eat cake.” And so when my doctor told me over the summer that I was going to try a few weeks living gluten-free this phrase was oddly one of the first thoughts that came into my head.

The gluten-free diet is just one of the many recent health trends that thousands of people currently try, with hopes that a simple change will improve the way they feel. For those with Celiac’s disease, gluten can cause serious damage to the small intestine and prevent the intake of important vitamins that the body needs. People with Celiac’s are not the only ones to follow the gluten-free diet. Some people notice that without gluten they don’t experience abdominal pain or bloating. A gluten-free program can also lead to weight loss and reduce chances of heart disease. I respect anyone who is willing to make a healthy lifestyle change, but I was not so willing. I joke with my friends that my doctor had to rip the bread out of my hands before I gave in.

There are plenty of gluten-free options now, and entire aisles – and sometimes, even stores – are designed to help those with specific diet needs. For anyone who is interested in trying out this recent fad, I will give one piece of advice: pick fresh fruits and vegetables over anything else. Fresh foods have a lot more flavor than a piece of stale potato bread, and including these in your diet can make the process a lot easier.

I’ll tell you the ending to this now. It did not last. I went a little over a month without touching bread, cake or anything else containing gluten. I even survived my trip to Long Island, where I was hoping to do three things: see the ocean, eat Long Island bagels and eat Long Island pizza. Sadly I didn’t get to do two of those things, but the beach was nice.

My breaking point was on my birthday, which fell on the same day as a friend’s graduation party. The only food dish without gluten was a bowl of picked over fruit salad and I decided that since it was my birthday I could spare to cheat a little. I was so happy that I could eat “real” cake on my birthday. From then, I just kept gluten in my diet. It didn’t change the way I felt, but it did make life a little easier and a lot more affordable. (A loaf of gluten-free bread can be twice as much as regular bread.)

It was my weakness for carbs that made my month-long health kick such a flop, but for all of the things to be weak for, I guess that carbs can’t really be all that bad.


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