Friday, September 6, 2013

sarcasm, hyperbole, and access oh my

I treasure sarcasm, so when HuffyP throws at me some sarcasm with science I am in a special little part of hog heaven. It is really really really hard to not respond to asinine blanket statements about "food fads" that hit close to home without exploding in some form of rage. The reality is - it is personal. Being hyperbolic is a fun way of pointing out some pretty ridiculousness without perhaps seeming shout-y.

5+ years later I still get irked when people equate their "diet" with my inability to eat gluten without becoming ill - and opening up long-term health risks. It is not the same. Not remotely.

I am frustrated-at-hypothetical-you, equating your desire to avoid a food for weight loss is no the same. In fact, I have a new speech in my back pocket for you. When you say "oh maybe I should go gluten-free, its so much healthier and I could probably loose some weight" I say "most people gain weight on a gluten-free diet, many because they were malnourished, but a lot of gluten-free replacement foods are higher in calories. And you need to be very vigilant and read every label and you don't get to go to a new restaurant on a Friday or Saturday when its busy, and the biggest hurdle is crumbs and cross-contamination..." At this point your eyes start to widen, or glaze over, and a little piece of me hopes I have dispelled any notion that living gluten-free is anything like that 2 weeks you tried Weight Watchers in the mid-90s.

Also, I have noticed that "you" are a woman under 50. Men don't say shit like this to me. (White men however do feel the need to point at my cane and ask me "so what happened there?" like it is their business, and obviously temporary.) This isn't a controlled study, but 5 years of gf living and I feel like its gotta be a bit more than anecdotal at this point. Women who I speak to about my food needs assume I am doing it to loose weight, nearly every single time. They also assume that I want to discuss weight loss techniques because I am on a "diet". We have a lot of work to do to create a better, healthier social climate for women and girls to talk about food and to do so without having it bound up in the binary of either being on a diet or not.

Don't get me wrong, I will talk to you about what I eat, I will talk to you about what you eat, but if your goal is to have a performative discussion about how we are all on "some sort of diet" I am going to stop you and stop you hard. These discussions are not ok. I am not going to perpetuate how you having a cupcake and eating it in front of me makes you feel bad or guilty. I am not going to do it. First off - your cupcake is poison to my body. Secondly, it is a cupcake. It is a treat, a snack, a celebratory food. I am not going to be part of some food vilification or you feeling the need to go on and tell me about how many extra sit-ups you are going to "make" yourself do tonight as penance. I am just not going to be part of it. We can talk about things, and I will do my best to hear you and understand that you are probably dealing with a whole lot of feelings about your body and its relationships with food, but hear me people: I am not going to make you feel ok about hating your body or yourself for the food you eat.

I bring all of this up because I think one of the points that Sisson misses is that the term "diet" is causing a problem. No one who refers to abstaining from eating peanuts because they have a peanut allergy as a "peanut-free diet", though clearly that is what is going on. I have talked before about the power and limitations of language. The word "diet" conjures images of choice and cheating and the ability to choose, not the inability to choose.

Back to the article, basically it is great because it is a decent round up of research, laws, studies, and cursory trend analysis; plus the bonus of being sasserific. Like nearly every article out there, is misses out on who has access to the information and gf foods - it almost goes there when he talks about gluten-free replacement foods costing more and the current medical advice to not go gluten free without talking to a doctor first - but Sisson falls short of actually having a frank discussion (or sarcastic one) about who is getting the access, knowledge, and option to go gluten free. (Hint it is not those most impacted by the "exacerbated obesity problem")

And yes, clearly Sisson is promoting his own agenda - primal eating. If I am honest, we all have our own agenda. I want people to be less asshattery about gluten-free options actually being gluten free! I want real SNAP and school lunch reform that is socially, economically, and culturally appropriate! I want people to understand the social implications of dietary restrictions!  I want all french fry frialators to be dedicated to potatoes only! I want the US to stop subsidizing corn! I want the price of solar panels to come down! I want the minimum wadge to be a living wage! I want healthcare to not be tied to employment! (hopefully this one is coming soon)

I have a lot more wants, but I feel like I am pretty clear about it. Sisson was being a little sneaky and a few people are feeling touchy about it. I don't know. I could never be fully honest about all of my biases, Sisson at least linked to his site. It feels like a baby/bathwater thing. He offers a lot of information in one spot, and even thought I don't feel like he is making the strongest argument for giving up all grains, he is pointing out how bonkers the whole fad-climate is right now.

This is the third major oversight - so many people are getting it wrong
Fame and publicity is a weird thing. Gluten free being a fad has opened a lot of doors to more options, and more problems. It is a clear way of increasing profits, but not necessarily doing it right. (Thanks GFG for pointing out the hypocrisy in the gluten-free cheesecake with wheat husks) It is really really hard to be truly gluten free since it has become more popular. Yes there are more options, but most of those options aren't really safe. There is a giant false-sense-of-security-blanket draped over crumbs and soy sauce. We need to talk about this more.

Overall, yay for more research. Yay for more people talking about this. Yay for more nuanced discussions about these issues. And I will still hold out hope that one day we will look back and laugh at the amount of time we spent worrying, because there will be a cure. Till then, I think we need to try harder to include more people in the discussions and make sure those who need to be gluten free are and have the tools to do so. 

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