The Gluten-Free Diet: The Newest “(Don’t Get) It-Diet”

Yesterday I had lunch at PF Chang’s in my local mall. Jammed packed with tons of shoppers off from work and school for Veteran’s Day, there was a 20 minute wait for a table. Luckily a couple had just left the bar, and I was able to grab one of the two side-by-side seats they vacated.

As I settled into place, I envisioned the mouth-watering Lettuce Wraps & spicy General Tsao like-chicken I was soon to devour. Glancing up at the TV, I caught the tail end of CNN showing a clip of that Carnival Cruise boat docking in California, packed with those poor folks that had nothing to eat for the past several days except for Pop Tarts & Spam. Guiltily, my soon to eat feast felt that much more sacred.

Suddenly a gal impeccable dressed in Burberry and made-up like a run-way model, barged her way into the empty seat next to mine all the while wrestling with several shopping bags bearing the names of Gucci, Juicy Couture and Louis Vuitton.

As she plunked herself down, she loudly and immediately asked the bartender to change the TV station to “anything but the news” since, “she never watches it because it’s so depressing”. Her commanding presence had that TV channel changed in no time flat.

Suddenly that 20 minute wait for a table didn’t seem like the eternity in which my much craved lunch was surely about to become.

As I ordered my gluten-free meal, Ms. Gucci squealed in delight proclaiming “O’ma Godddd! I’m on that new ‘It-Diet’ too! Just like Gwyneth and all those others in California!”

Thinking that maybe, just maybe, it might be worth trying to explain, I clarified that I was on the gluten-free diet, not because it was the new “It Diet” but because I had something called celiac sprue disease. In a flash, Ms. Gucci backed her stool away from me as if I had some kind of catchy flesh-eating disease that if contracted may keep her penned-up and away from the mall for months. Although I was grateful for the extra elbow room in such tight quarters, I kept my composure, and in my most simple and childlike language I could muster, I assured her that celiac disease  is not catchy, and further went on to explained that the “cure” was a life-long adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. I also explained that those with celiac disease can’t eat anything with gluten, even the things you wouldn’t imagine would, but do; things like the regular soy sauce served at most restaurants.

It was then that she let me know that she and “hundreds of her friends” just don’t eat things that have “real gluten” in them… things like bagels, pizza, pasta, cakes and cookies.

Really? I mean… Really?

It was then I realized that this whole deal of the gluten-free diet being the “It Diet” really should be called the “Don’t Get It” diet.

After finishing up my lunch, in which (thankfully) Ms. Gucci was so enthralled with texting on her newest smartphone that we didn’t find the need to converse any longer, I gathered up my shopping bags from Sears and JC Penney, and bid my goodbyes to my haphazard dining companion.

But before leaving, I decided to mention to Ms. Gucci today’s newest “It Diet”. A new diet that surely she hadn’t heard about yet. A diet that has been covered by every news station. The newest diet craze that thousand of folks in California have just discovered. Yup… the “Pop Tart & Spam” diet.  I told her to give it a try, and leave the gluten-free diet to those of us who “get it”.

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7 Responses to “The Gluten-Free Diet: The Newest “(Don’t Get) It-Diet””

  1. Shirley @ gfe Says:

    LOL Kathleen on the Pop Tart and Spam diet! Is this a true account of your experience with this “It” diet person? I suspect it is, but it’s so incredulous that it’s hard to believe. Thanks so much for sharing the tale though? I’ll share it with others. I have no problem with someone going gluten free, and by that I mean completely gluten free, to improve their health because I feel that current testing fails many who have gluten issues. However, the lack of knowledge and true understanding from this person and others who take on gf as a fad is hard to take and damages awareness for those of us who desperately need to eat gf safely for health reasons. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and emphasizing that this type of approach truly a “Don’t Get It!” one.


  2. Sunnie Says:

    WOW! Now I really didn’t think people were that stupid. I don’t mean to be harsh, but do people really just start a diet because the STARS are doing it? I guess I have always had my wits about myself. Crazy! People don’t get it. A friend said to me, “I guess we all can get pizza since you are on a new diet!” I was like WHAT? I looked over at my husband and he KNEW I was going to spit fire if I could. It isn’t like some fad diet for losing weight. I haven’t even lost weight eating gluten free. It is because I get a bad rash all over my abdomen and breasts, I get terrible migraines and vertigo, so I have to crawl to the bathroom to pee, I get bad mood swings, and I now have started with the diarrhea and throwing up at the same time from a damn CRUMB! Oh well, she will be on the next diet soon. I have found it doesn’t help to educate someone that doesn’t care to know. I have asked before, “would you like to know what it really is about?” If they say no, I leave it at that, I’m not out to save the world.

    Its great that you have a place you can go eat out. I can’t eat out anywhere anymore at all. I just keep getting cross contaminated and it just isn’t worth it.

  3. Ruth Says:


    You know what my favorite one is? Someone informed me, “I never eat gluten,” while a sandwich was sitting on her plate.

    I agree, that it can damage awareness for those of us suffering from true gluten problems.

  4. Katie C. Says:

    Loved this story, Kathleen! You sound just like me! The part that got me was how she backed away from you when you said the word “disease”. Right away that makes me think of kids and how important it is that they know that Celiac is not contagious. It’s bad enough that adults would act like that to another adult, but just think of how some kids might react (keeping their distance from someone, name calling, making them feel ashamed and embarrassed) and how badly that might make a Celiac child feel. It’s so important that we keep telling people about those important aspects of Celiac and keep raising awareness to help educate people on the basics of what Celiac really entails…and get to the details whenever people are willing to listen. It’s a shame that some people are viewing the gluten-free diet as a fad because I think that that is going to cause the general public to take it less seriously, which makes it harder for people who HAVE to be on the diet. I’ll be sure to share this…

  5. Paulissa Says:

    I hate it when something healthy gets touted by Hollywood because then it seems the REAL health benefits get negated in the swirl of celebrity. I’m glad you used it as a learning moment. P.S. I am one of your FB fans.

  6. Tomi Says:

    I loved the story! But we should all think of it this way; the more of these “fad” dieters there are the more products the grocery stores will carry they (and us) want to eat. And the more media attention this all gets is the better for me. I live in a very rural area, where there is not a lot of knowledge about ‘gluten’. I have one grocery store that carries a decent amount of products that I’m comfortable with and one restaurant that I trust (the owner has Celiacs). And co-workers that have celiac “just a little bit” so don’t adhere to gluten-free. I get a bit frustrated but I have learned to be rather creative and enjoy the new ideas I come up with.

  7. Mark Says:

    What I would like to see if any of these restaurants had gluten free menus I haven’t seen one yet. I haven’t been in the bigger cities in a long time.I make my own pizza, bread, cakes,pies,and cookies,I can’t quite get the choclate cake to taste right,it taste like dry dog food.This diet is a learning experience I have been on it for 3 years so all the gluten should be out of me.I have had 1 or 2 restaurants know what I can eat and help me out with the menu.I am glad I wasn’t on that ship I would have starved, who knows if that canned meat had gluten in it,I know it had pork that I can’t touch either.Some people don’t understand what we Celiacs go through when we sit down and go through a menu and wonder what is in this and is it going to make me sick.So we go the safe way and order what we think is safe and eat bland foods.Talking to people about this while in a restaurant,some want to get educated about what you call the IT diet and others just don’t care.What’s sad they are allergic and don’t know it.

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