While Miley Cyrus responds to critics about her dramatic weight loss as of recently, she is speaking out to critics that she doesn’t have an eating disorder, she has an allergy to gluten. While Miley has publicly announced to the press that “everyone should try a gluten-free lifestyle,” experts are disagreeing.
Nutrition experts are saying that the diet is “only strongly recommended for people who are diagnosed with celiac disease, a condition whose sufferers have an immune response to gluten in the small intestine. Over time, potentially, it can result in permanent intestinal damage and malnutrition.”
According to L.A. Times reporter Jeannine Stein, “opting for a gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily any healthier than a diet with gluten, and products are sometimes costly. If gluten intolerance is not truly an issue, there may be no advantages to cutting out wheat and other foods, because some substitute grains contain little fiber,” she reported.
So, should people that don’t have an allergy to gluten cut it out from their diet? And what is it like for someone that suffers from a gluten-allergy? In order to get the facts, I interviewed Paul Madison, a 44-year-old man who has suffered from gluten allergies for the past three years.
Toonari Post: When did you go gluten-free?
Paul Madison: Three years ago I had my gallbladder removed and immediately after that I noticed that I was having trouble digesting foods that I had eaten my entire life. Once the pain became intolerable, I started researching on the internet about my symptoms and that’s when I came across WebMD.com. The site described every symptom I was having and directed me to a gluten website. I then modified my diet based on what my doctor and the website told me to do and started to feel like myself again.
TP: What does your daily diet usually consist of?
PM: Well, before I used to eat breakfast but now I can’t eat the breakfast foods that I love, like cereal, oatmeal, toast. Every once in a while I will have eggs now though. I eat a lot of salads and vegetables now and for my lunch and dinner I now eat a lot of meats, like steak, chicken and fish.
Another problem I have, and a lot of people I have noticed have this problem with gluten allergies, is that just when they think they have cut out all the foods they need to, there are still other items out there that have traces in gluten in them like chicken broth, seasonings, gravies, salad dressings and even cheeses and lunch meats.
TP: What are some of the foods you love but can’t have?
PM: I can’t eat the good quality bread that I love that I grew up with like brands like Schwebel’s and Pepperidge Farm, that’s all in the past. I often eat a gluten-free type of bread called Udi’s, but it doesn’t taste nearly as good. White rice is another one of the foods I really miss, and especially processed foods at the grocery store. I basically have to avoid anything processed, like pizza, in the frozen food section because many of the foods in that aisle don’t have gluten-free products.
TP: What would happen to you if you ate something with gluten in it?
PM: Within minutes of eating something that has gluten in it, I get extremely nauseous. I suffer from stomach cramping and burning and bloating. I’ve also had complications with acid reflux and constipation or diarrhea.
TP: How are your eating habits modified compared to that of your family?
PM: I usually have something cooked differently at dinner time that doesn’t have gluten in it, and I keep a lot of my own food in plastic containers. If my family eats pasta then a different type of pasta that is gluten-free is cooked for me. When my children are traveling for sporting events I pack a cooler of things that are safe for me to eat. Also, it takes me a lot longer to grocery shop now because I have to read through the fine print of food labels. It is also a lot more expensive for me now, like for example, a small loaf of Udi’s gluten-free bread is almost six dollars.
TP: Do you think that living a gluten-free lifestyle like Miley Cyrus is a healthier diet compared to food regimens with gluten in them, or do you agree with nutrition experts that if you’re not gluten intolerant or have a gluten allergy then you should not be cutting out foods with gluten in them?
PM: I agree with the experts. I think if it’s not an issue for you and how you feel, if people have a problem with dealing with it, they have to cut it out. People that don’t, I don’t know why they would need to cut it out. I just want to feel better everyday.
TP: How is one diagnosed with a gluten allergy?
PM: They would first have to go get a blood test but they would have to have gluten in their system for the results to be accurate. I went on a three-week gluten-free diet before being tested and my results still fell borderline between gluten intolerance and gluten allergy. But the main test that you should have done is a biopsy of your lower intestine where they will take a little piece out and have it checked out.
TP: Is there any advice you would give to anyone that is gluten-intolerant or has a gluten allergy?
PM: Do a lot of research on diet. Doctors and dieticians can help you, or a health foods store. There are also supplements that you can take to help with gluten allergies. Fortunately though, restaurants and grocery stores at an alarmingly fast rate have started posting labels of gluten-free products. When I was diagnosed with this three years ago, that was something I never saw, anywhere.