Gluten-Free Diets: Latest Fad?

By Jim F

As we say farewell to the low-carb frenzy, The Australian reports on another growing fad: Gluten-Free Diets.

Nutritionist Joanne Beer said gluten-free had replaced low-carb as the latest diet craze.

“I think it’s a trendy fad and people are jumping on the bandwagon,” she said.

“I’ve had so many people coming in lately and saying, ‘oh, I’m gluten-intolerant’, and in 99 per cent of cases they are not.”

For sufferers of Celiac disease, following a gluten-free diet is a necessity. However it appears that many people are now self-diagnosing, and buying up gluten-free products.

A spokeswoman for Woolworths supermarkets said gluten-free foods represented the fastest-growing category within the health food market.

Celiac disease can be diagnosed with a blood test. Other than that, there is no special reason to follow a gluten-free diet.


  1. victoria

    amber – i have struggled with an eating disorder for as long as i remember – binge and compulsive eating. i have battled it and battled it and made good steps in recovery but its always been a struggle. then i gave up wheat for an unrelated issue – the cravings stopped and so has the bingeing. i have got my life back. but i would recommend that you go to the doctor before eliminating anything – ask for blood test and allergy/intolerance tests too. as for losing weight – you prob will have to go on a healthy eating plan to lose – going gluten/wheat free wont be enough if you are genuinely overweight but i think if the cravings and binges did stop you would be half way there to getting your life back. but speak to a professional.

  2. Sara

    I have been trying a gluten free diet for a week now and already have noticed a big difference. For years I suffered from constant indigestion and related problems. I was reading about coeliac disease and a lot of my symptoms matched up though it may just be an intolerance. You are likely to lose weight on a gluten free diet because you are reducing your carbs intake drastically although you can eat oats and nuts etc. Best of luck.







  6. Amy

    Thanks Laurel for the clear and informative “food for thought” in your blog. My family went gluten-free six years ago after husband was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy (a secondary kidney disease that ended with dialysis and transplant). A very long story. The gluten connection was something that I accidently stumbled onto. I have been passionate about being part of influencing change in awareness for medical professionals ever since. The uphill battle was difficult enough for me even while having a high aptitude for “healthy debate”. I can’t imagine anyone with a timid personality being able to question the ‘business as usual’ treatment of connectable (yet unconnected) symptoms without being too often completely squashed down by their highly-trained medical professional caregiver. The treatments occur while the root gluten cause is usually never explored as a diagnostic possibility. I am a cellular and molecular biology major currently. I found your portion about how calcium deficiency, caused by gluten enteropathy, effects fat cells and insulin release thus contributing to obesity and diabetes fascinating, worth further exploration on my part. The actual mechanistic “hows” about why gluten can cause these diseases–those are the types of connections that I hope to research and to see in my lifetime become commonplace associations in every doctors office across America. It is happening—slowly!!!

  7. kaskel

    You can also try almond meal (or “flour) in place of bread crumbs. Mu husband is celiac and not only do I use it as bread crumbs, but it makes a delicious breading for chicken!

  8. Joy McCaughey

    I have recently went Gluten Free. After my 3rd child I was diagnosed with Graves Disease (Hyperthyroid/autoimmune). I have dealing with the Thyroid for the last 4 years. I just could not put my finger why I was having other symptoms when my thyroid was being managed. I am been extremely tired, achey joints, reflux, weight gain, bloating,
    anemia, headaches, and swelling in the joints. I asked about gluten allergy when diagnosed w/ thyroid issues. My doctor said it was hard to go GF & that I needed to eat balanced. So I did not continue at that time GF. Well here we are 4 yrs later & the problems are worse so I have taken Gluten out of my diet. I have been really been reserching Gluten problems and people w/ autoimmune thyroid disease are 30% more likely to have Gluten problems. I wished that my doctor would have known this 4 years ago. I have been on a GF diet for almost 2 weeks and already feel better and I am hoping to feel 100% healthy again. I am not craving food as much. I am eating balanced and have not had any major issues. If I can continue to feel better without Gluten in my diet. That is a prayer answered and I will not ever go back to eating something that made me feel so bad. Eating GF is just a balanced diet and if you want those treats that are loaded w/ gluten there are gluten free treats available when needed. Of course, we do need to eat those things very often anyway. But my point is with a positive attitude & a need to go GF it is possible and you will feel so much better!!

  9. Donna

    I had the same experience Tom had. Tried it for months and felt worse. I think it’s great that some people love their gluten-free diet. But when it’s pushed and pushed on you, you try it, and you feel worse? Well, THAT is a problem.

    I had a doctor tell me to try it. I kept feeling worse. Finally, I ditched the damn thing and felt VASTLY better. After that, he kept saying I must not have been doing it right, etc.

    I have been doing great off it. In fact, what it did for me was show me how great I felt compared with while I was on that diet.

    I changed doctors (I never did test positive for celiac or any kind of sensitivity to wheat) and my new internist says “it’s a fad.”

    I don’t think Tom is denying anyone else’s experience. He saw an opportunity to gripe about what happened to him. I have friends who swear by the diet. Good for them! But it’s lousy for me. I feel much better OFF the damn thing and I got tired of being pushed, pushed, pushed. I wanted to shout at my former doctor, “I did it already! Leave me alone!” It’s like a religion for some people – seriously. I’ve had more people tell me to try this diet.

    Hehehe… I have one friend with terrible arthritis. She has been on the diet for two years – keeps saying how great it is. But six months ago, she got a cane. Hmmm…

    You all might be having a grand time with it. But I felt it was my ethical duty to post here for persons wandering around the Internet. My friend with celiac disease has greatly benefited from this fad – the food choices are much better. But I do think for most people it’s the placebo effect.

    Again – I’m not trying to argue with anyone here who says they feel better. Okay – that’s great! But I’m weary of people – even my former doctor – telling me over and over to do it. I did. It sucked. In every possible way. And I think that’s what Tom is saying here.

  10. jody/10 years biopsy diagnosed celiac

    Actually, we have only had wheat grains as a staple in our european diet for a few thousand years. Near Easterners have had it in their diet for many thousands of years more than us. The current theory as to why they have fewer celiacs is that they All DIED OUT.
    I was very ill when I was diagnosed. It took 10 years for my doctors to figure it out. I’ve been gf for 10 years now, and much better.
    I’m sorry if you were misdiagnosed, if that is what happened. But don’t be so quick to judge others based solely on your experience. There is a lot of research going on, respectable peer-reviewed research, looking into these questions. And many people, not hyperchondriacs, are looking for ways to heal themselves. Doctors should be listening (unlike the ones who used to tell me it was all in my head, only because they couldn’t figure it out).

  11. jody

    yes you can

  12. Jody

    try not to confuse the gluten free diet with the paleolithic diet. I eat grains on the gf diet, just not the ones containing gluten. I don’t dismiss the paleo diet,but I know little about the science behind it. It might be mentioned that we modern humans have no tigers in the jungle waiting to have our young bodies for lunch; might add to our lifespan…

  13. Jody 10yr celiac

    Trader Joe’s carries Brown Rice Pasta; the best I have had. Other brands: Tinkyada has a brown rice pasta, it may be the sam e as TJ’s. I used to buy Mrs. Leepers corn pasta. Brown rice has a great chewy texture and doesn’t disintegrate (which is Soooo discouraging)

  14. Jody

    there is gluten free beer!!! if you are in the states you can get it at Bev Mo, order it online or ask your retailer to carry it.
    Redbridge Beer (Anhauser Busch)
    Bard’s Tale Beer
    New Grist

  15. Jody/10 year biopsy diag/celiac

    Google, you guys. there are many great products you can buy online; just google gluten-free food. you can even get some on Amazon!
    Some of my favorite brands:
    Kinnickinnik for premade, Authentic Foods, Gluten Free Pantry, and Gifts of Nature for mixes. Amazingly, Betty Crocker makes a great GF chocolate chip cookie mix, although I prefer to support the small, long term gf companies. Authentic Foods and Gifts of Nature use a lot of bean flour which raises the protein and fiber count ; just don’t eat the raw dough, bean flour tastes metallic when raw! If you must have raw cookie dough, Betty Crocker is the one; first time I had raw cookie dough in 10 years. No lectures, please, it isn’t something I do very often, but I think anyone on a gf diet shouldn’t feel guilty if they try to recreate a treat they have had to give up. Let me tell you about the time I tried to make gluten-free baklava… or maybe not)

  16. Jody/10 year biopsy diagnosed celiac

    Oats do not contain gluten, they contain avenin. The reason many celiacs avoid oats is due to the problem of cross-contamination; i.e. wheat in the oat field. (You can buy gluten-free oatmeal, certified that it has no cros-contamination). I eat regular oatmeal all the time. years ago I figured that an occasional ingestion of a tiny amount of gluten is unavoidable (unless I never go out to eat, which I refuse to give up). So I stopped worrying about accidental contamination, and focus on the actual foods themselves.

  17. Jody

    Sorry Carl, Celiac Disease is NOT a genetic disorder. It is an autoimmune disease. The DNA test just shows if you are in the group of people who might get it, depending on other factors.

  18. Jody

    do you have the name/date of that journal article? I want to look at my daughter’s old blood test results, which her endocrinologist did not thin pointed to CD; something about specificity and sensitivity that I am still trying to understand. I am looking for any new studies or info.

  19. Tom

    Oh – I forgot to say this. I actually had stomach pain ON the gluten-free diet. No joke. I got an upper g.i. just in case.

    My stomach feels great now – no problem.

    I’m happy for those who say they feel better on it. But for others wandering on the Internet wondering, please pay attention to your body. If you don’t feel better eating gluten-free, forget it. Give it a few more years and I expect this thing to disappear.

  20. Gluten-free is NOT FOR ME

    Gosh, glad to see this. I was advised to try a gluten-free diet for my arthritis. I tried it for SIX MONTHS, just to be sure. It was a HORRIBLE diet! But – I did it.

    Guess what? No doubt – my arthritis was WORSE! I had to up my pain meds for that period. I tried it – I really did. This is, I believe, a fad for most.

    When I resumed my normal diet – fish, lots of plants, whole grains, and legumes – I felt SO much better! I was back to running and swimming and my hands and feet didn’t ache and keep me awake at night.

    What’s funny is that I was seeing a new doctor – a VERY respected Houston gastroenterologist. It was my sister’s idea – she also is a physician. She kept telling me that gluten was making my arthritis flare up. She also believed gluten in her diet worsened her asthma.

    Well, after a year on a gluten-free diet, she ended up in hospital with the WORST asthma attack of her life. She nearly died and was kept in hospital for three weeks – pretty much unprecedented. But she continues to be a believer.

    During the six month trial of the diet, whenever I saw the g.i. doctor, he kept pushing the gluten-free diet. “Stick with it – don’t give up.” Well, I stuck with it. I’m an EXPERT on gluten-free now! I tested negative on all his tests, by the way, and so does my sister. But he kept telling me the tests aren’t very good.

    After the six month period, I told him that not only was my pain still much worse, keeping me awake at night, I also told him I think it’s a fad. I asked him how we could have evolved for millions of years eating these gluten containing grains and all of the sudden they are terrible for us. He said… NOTHING! Literally. He had no response.

    I immediately ate a sandwich (yum!) and resumed my diet prior to that whole debacle. I feel SO much better! Yes, I have arthritis and that doesn’t go away – but there is absolutely no doubt that my symptoms were MUCH worse on that stupid diet.

    That was five years ago – and I still remember that six month period as the most physically painful period in my life. I think gluten allergy is rare and this is a fad. All these people posting that their doctor told them to get on this diet do NOT understand medicine. Medicine is largely an art. You try something. I know many doctors who have bought this fad… but not all.

    Oh – and by the way. I’m an internist. So here’s one doctor who says this is a fad and I can’t wait for it to disappear.

    Thanks for listening.


  21. Jody

    never heard the cracker every few days story; Not true, and would defeat the purpose of going gluten free.

  22. Jody

    if more people eat gluten free, more awareness is in the community; more products available, more chefs taught what gluten intolerance is; I see no downside to a surge of people trying it out. GF is not an exclusive club; and if you have cd, like I do, you explain it if you have to.
    the addictive component of gluten could possibly be a factor in All binging, how would one know if they don’t try it?

  23. lauraf

    hi maria..i have just started the gluten free diet..u said u can sleep better… i had trouble sleeping ..used to wake up every 30 after a week i wake up only one time..i suffer from bad migraines..i still have migraines but are less persistant.. i suffer from pain in my knees too… it s great that its helping nephew is coeliac… we have a list of auto immune disorders in our family..i suffer from ibs as well… how did it affect your sleep?

  24. laura

    hi Grace,

    I have decided to go gluten free to see it has some positive outcome on my auto immune disorder…which is vitiligo.. i have problems in absorbing vitamins, therefore i have to take a higher dose..apart from that i have heard it might be linked. My niece has been diagnosed with coeliac at the age of 1 i believe, in our family we have a history of auto immune disorder..together with diabetic..and lymphomia…my mother died of brother got sick with lymphomia when he was only 23 yrs old and now my dad has been diagnosed with leukemia.. i am not doing this diet to loose weight, however i do believe that eveyone does what he feel he needs to…to improve his your case it helped you a lot… i dont like ppl saying that we put at stake the ones who really have coeliac..when i go out to dine i just order what i know would not contain gluten.. there are some restaurants who offer gluten free things.. i only tell them to not put bread or other gluten related items when i take a platter… i dont go around saying ..look ..i m gluten intolerant..but see me..i can eat what i want… i dont do that..i am doing this for my health.. and to see if i might get some pigmentation back..apart from that i suffer from bad IBS… i found it helps a lot not eating gluten..usually i would end up either throwing up or with diarreha…!!!!!!!!!! my nephew if he comes in contact with gluten he has to be immediately rushed to hospital.. his tongue freezes and he has problems in breathing.. apart from that he s not talking yet..and now he ll soon be 4 yrs friends sis has been diagnosed with coeliac… she is 16 yrs old..they only tested her for coeliac after an operation she had… it was something about her blood… she used to eat everything without never being sick.. i think the gravity varies from a person and an bros kid ends up in hospital, whilst this girl has no reaction!!!! however…with ppl going gluten i find it increases awarness… which is a good thing…many ppl are asking for gluten free items at the local grocery or supermarket..mostly are doing it for health issues… sooo grace keep it up..and am glad it helped in your case…i hope it helps with mine..that way maybe the vitamins will be absorbed rather then getting wasted..and maybe..i will start to see some pigmentation coming back on the white spots i have caused by vitiligo… good luck

  25. Jody/10 years biopsy diagnosed celiac

    if you have been gluten free for awhile, the biopsy WILL be negative because your villi will heal.
    As far as a food fad; if you feel better on it, you will probably stay on it. Note that a lot of processed foods, restaurant foods, and pre-packaged food contains gluten. You’ll lose weight just by cutting out the easy to eat, high caloric stuff.

    there is research that claims while almost 1% of the population have celiac disease, 10% of the population is gluten sensitive (

  26. Lisa Laughlin

    My daughter is 11 and for about 5 years she has been very gassy (not a little…. a LOT) and she has been putting on weight. What’s strange is that she had the cleanest food of all the kids in her school. No pop tarts, sugar cereals, juice, etc. But when she started school and eating sanwiches for lunch is when this all started. She is about 15% over her ideal weight, but it gets a little worse each year. I had a DNA test done for celiac and she does not have the main gene, but does have two secondary genes. I’m waiting for the translation from the doctor on what the lab report really means about these two genes. She is hungry all the time and it scares me. She swims on the swim team and is very active. Until I saw your post I was totally confused. I suspect now that it’s like your post. Wow! I would love to hear more of your story

  27. Karen

    Hey, I checked out this site because some people in my life have been giving me a hard time about not eating gluten. They seem to think it’s just a fad and has no real benefits. I disagree!! I’ve been mostly gluten free for about 2 years and the differnce is amazing. I can go on a run without stomach pain and emergency stops in the bushes..good thing I live in the country! I can think clearly and am back in school at 50. I had given up trying to do anything that required my attention for very long. Now I’m going great and couldn’t be happier on my “fad diet”.

  28. rebecca

    I was diagnoised 10 years ago with ceoliac diease, my mother suffered from it in the late 70’s and at the time they thought she was suffering from lukemia. I find this discussion fascinating. Having lived Gluten free from the age of 18 when there was little information about the disease, it is still an every day battle. Gluten is unfortunatley added in a variety of forms to many kinds of foods, and drinks.
    From reading lots of papers, studies, and blogs over the last ten years my advice to those people out there searching for an answer is that this disese has many systomns, not always gasteric symptons however these are most common. And every person suffers in a different way. Amber who wonders if it is a weight loss soliution, having suffered with weight problems, under and over weight during my life, cutting out food that is gluten may help, but mainly because, following a gluten free diet is living on natural grown healthy foods, such as fruit, vegetables and fresh fish and meat, the lack of additives it what stops you craving foods high in sugar and fat. However those of us who have sampled gluten free alternatives know that it is possible to live Gluten free and still eat ‘junk’ food, especially when you can pop down to the local supermarket and chekc out the now clear lablled gluten free cakes!

  29. Christine

    Sorry for the long post but you may find it worthwhile.

    Back in January, my son-in-law (a chiropractor who just passed his neuro boards) made me get the Enterolabs test for gluten. I had been suffering for years with symptoms such as joint pain (knees were the worse) and fatigue which I just chalked up to getting old. Well, my test came back with 2 genes for gluten sensitivity (but not Celiac thankfully) and an autoimmune reaction to gluten. Dr. Bill made me go on an elimination diet which removes all of the major allergens. After a couple of weeks, my joint pain was gone. I felt better than I had in years and knew gluten-free was necessary for me. But I’ve always been one of those stupid people who has to learn from their mistakes. Recently, my eating had been slipping into my old habits. I was craving things like chocolate chip cookies and I wasn’t eating as many vegetables. I wasn’t feeling the best so I made the decision to do the elimination diet again.

    However, in preparation I decided I would eat all those things I was craving, kind of get them out of my system once and for all, so that weekend was a big splurge. On Friday, I had a Sausage McGriddle, a scoop of General Tao’s chicken & 2 fried wontons. On Saturday I had a slice of pizza, a stuffed artichoke, and on Sunday I had a chocolate chip cookie.

    So, there I was Monday morning with my knees throbbing even after taking 3 ibuprofen. I felt feverish. My whole body was swollen and bloated and achy. I literally gained 9-1/2 lbs. in 3 days. My thighs, butt, back and neck were sore and it hurt just to walk. My hands were swollen and my knuckles hurt. I had a headache and my sinuses were swollen almost shut. I’m was totally exhausted and just want to go back to bed. Before going gluten-free, this was how I felt every day, but I had forgotten. I had just chalked it up to getting old and thought it was just something I had to live with. But I don’t have to live with it! After just 3 days Gluten Free again, I was feeling better. I had lost 6 of the 9-1/2 lbs and my body was less achy. The pain was reduced to mainly in my lower back, and, of course, my knees.

    So what are the specific symptoms of gluten intolerance and celiac disease?

    *Weight loss or weight gain
    *Nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorbtion e.g. low iron levels
    *Gastro-intestinal problems (bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
    *Fat in the stools (due to poor digestion)
    *Aching joints
    *Head aches
    *Irritability and behavioural changes
    *Infertility, irregular menstrual cycle and miscarriage
    *Cramps, tingling and numbness
    *Slow infant and child growth
    *Decline in dental health

    Undiagnosed for long periods of time, food intolerances have been found to contribute to diabetes, bowel cancer, anemia and osteoporosis.

    As you can see, some of these symptoms are so non-descript that they could apply to everyone and because it could have been developing over years you may not realize just how bad it is. I never realized that food intolerances could be the cause of these things.

    I would highly recommend that everyone partipate in an elimination diet which lasts about 3 weeks and then slowly adds back in allegens so you can find out what effects you. You could be surprised at the results.

  30. Lizy

    Amber, if you have a problem with sugar cravings try a “sugar ballance” supplement I dont know where you are but here in New Zealand they are available at most health shops and supermarkets etc. They really work and are pretty cheap. And as far as the gluten free thing gos i saygo for it ive been doing it for 4 months (plus excercise )and lost 10kg, which is alot as i wasnt overly huge to start with but it makes you feel fantastic! I always used to be bloated and feel horrible after a glutenous meal but dont have that problem anymore, my only advise would be to have a little bit of gluten every few days (maybe a cracker or somthing) as i was told you can make yourself fully intollerant to gluten if you cut it out for too long. Again like heather i am no nutritionist but hey this may help?

  31. Sue

    I’ve read up on websites like this and the answers I’ve found range from 30 minutes to 48 hours after eating gluten. Can anyone speak from experience on this?

    I have simalar with my hands and feet and since going GFree I have found when I screw up I notice within about 6 hours the itching breaks out and new sores appear and the effect can last two weeks before healing again.

    I have been gluten free for only 5 days and am experiencing weird, black diarhhea. Hey, I thought this was supposed to go away? I am also still having the gas and abdominal pain. Does anyone know how long it takes to feel better?

    Did you greatly increase your fruits and veggies from what you used to eat? I did that at first and had a simalar problem try to eat like normal just no glutten and it can take a few weeks to start to feel better depending on how much healing your body needs to do

  32. Sue

    You can have other senitivites when you have a gluten intolerance. I never knew what was causing my skin problems (I have what the drs called eczema but worse on my feet hands wrists and ankles and at times other places), my ibs, fatigue, migraine headaches, and other symptoms. The doctors told me it was IBS and learn to live with it. I was never tested for celacs disease at that time and I just learned to suffer. It cost me a job and a way of life i was used to trying to figure it out and being sick non stop for years. Finally my mom was diagnosed with celiacs and my aunt told me to get tested. I found out I too had celiacs and it is what is causing most of my problems I have been GFree now for almost a year and I feel better I function better I feel like my food is actually getting digested Im slowly losing weight I have never been able to lose. I do still have skin problems every time I mess up and get something I shouldnt I seem to start that battle over again but over all this has been a great change for me. I am allergic to eggs too which adds a bit more of a challenge for me. I do welcome this becoming a fad because it would open up a bunch of new stuff for those of us who are living with this day to day and I can say from personal experince that if you stick with this diet you will lose weight over time. It is not as fast as with other diets but it will slowly come off. And the best part is you do not have to give up the foods you like. I still eat pasta, bread, cookies, cake, pies and anything else I want I just have to be careful how its made and how much of it I am eatting. I am couriuos if anyone else has had the skin problems and if so if they have had any luck getting it to heal up and if there is anything I can do to hurry it up and also if there is anything else I can do to increase the weightloss besides the obvious things of eat less move more, and if there is a good list of restuarants that offer Gfree menus and grocery stores who carry Gfree foods.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my ramble and good luck to those trying this out!

  33. Holly

    black BMs are a sign of bleeding in your gut you should go to a doctor!

  34. Holly

    When his digestion heals he will start gaining weight. Undiagnosed Celiacs have malnutrition. once the gut is healed your body starts absorbing correctly.

  35. Holly

    actually its not a allergy its a autoimmune disease

  36. Holly

    absolutely not true. It will change nothing for you if you are not intolerant. It will not control cravings, hunger or anything along those lines. It is not a diet to lose weight it is a diet to survive. People are doing this because it is medically necessary and When people start touting it as a weight lose program it risks the health and well being of everyone who does this out of necessity. I don’t want my cook to think that I’m only ordering GF to help lose a couple pounds, they will be less careful and risk my health and my child’s. We NEED this we don’t choose it.

  37. Sarah

    Hi there,
    My name is Sarah and I have celiac disease. One of things I do know is that in order to find out if you really have celiac you need to be eating gluten before the tests for them to show that you have it. I was having problems for a long time before the doctors could figure out what was going on with me.
    The Gastro doctor I went to, told me in order to prove that I had it he wanted to do a stomach biopsy. I had already gone gluten free and he told me I would have to eat gluten for a month before I had the test done. I hope that helps you a little.


  38. Brenda

    Sorry, Angela, but you can be completely gluten free and not low on folic acid. My husband is celiac and we have been a gluten free household for over three years.

    The biggest problem is people don’t cook and still try to eat processed foods. If you eat a health, well-balanced diet, it is very easy to have all the nutrients you need. Just for safety, we also take a multiple vitamin.

    All bread and baked goods are homemade. The only “processed” foods we buy are gluten free waffles, a few cereals, and sometimes bread crumbs because I don’t have stale, leftover bread.

    Prior to my husband being diagnosed celiac, we ate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables so the only thing that has changed is I now read labels closely, order my flours from California, and bake weekly.