The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Gluten-free: a fad diet or a way of life?

Carolyn Angiolillo, an SMU senior, was diagnosed with celiac disease (pronounced silly-yak) when she was 16-years-old, which means she cannot eat foods with the protein glucose because her system cannot process it correctly.

When people with this disease eat foods with glucose, an immunizing reaction occurs in their small intestine because they cannot break it down. Their bodies react negatively by not absorbing nutrients.

“I used to get really bad stomach aches and would have to curl up in a ball,” Angiolillo said. “I couldn’t do anything but curl up in bed.”

While there is no known cure for Celiac Disease, a gluten-free diet can help sufferers regulate their symptoms. They can’t eat grains like wheat, barley and rye, which all contain glucose and are in many common foods and drinks like pizza, bread, crackers and beer
A gluten-free diet was ranked #3 on The Daily Beast’s (a popular opinion Web site) Ten Food Trends for 2010 list because a growing number of people have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease and other allergies and intolerances to the glucose protein.

“Today the world is more gluten-free friendly, but when I was first diagnosed my mom made a lot of foods from scratch because the few things available as alternatives were gross,” Angiolillo said.

Hollywood has also promoted the craze, making going gluten-free, or “g-free”, trendy.
Many food distributors have come out with gluten-free options; Angiolillo’s favorite snack is gluten-free pretzels by Glutino and Schar. She also loves Babycakes NYC (, a bakery specializing in vegan and gluten-free delights. Though the bakery is in New York City and has recently opened in Los Angeles as well, she keeps up to date with it by following the bakery on Twitter. Locally, her favorite restaurants are Kozy Kitchen and Victor Tango’s, whose menus offer plenty of options for those going g-free. But before you jump on the g-free bandwagon, you should know that it isn’t a diet for weight loss—it’s a lifestyle change designed for the people who need it.

“There’s currently no science that indicates you’ll lose weight by replacing gluten-filled food with non-gluten food that has the same number of calories,” according to Any weight loss you may see is the result of reducing the number of calories and fat grams you put into your body (by cutting out foods like pizza and cookies).

Angiolillo has noticed a lot of weight fluctuation since she has been gluten-free. “Your body breaks down other foods in place of the fats that normal wheat [gluten] products give you.” She finds the weight loss aspect of this diet to be the most common misunderstanding. Another little known fact is that people can be diagnosed with Celiac Disease at any time of their life.

While Angiolillo’s case is the result of genetics (members of her dad’s side of the family also have the disease), it does not have to be hereditary. In fact, you don’t even have to be born with it. Some people do not experience symptoms of Celiac Disease until it is triggered by crises such as infections, surgeries, life stressors or pregnancy.

Celebrity Elisabeth Hasselbeck did not realize she had the disease until she was a contestant on the TV show Survivor: The Australian Outback. After 40 days of depriving herself of the normal starchy foods she was accustomed to at home, Hasselbeck realized that maybe the deprivation was a good thing. She was actually feeling better than ever – no more of the bloating, cramps or indigestion she had previously experienced after meals. By taking note of the way certain foods affected her body Hasselbeck, was able to recognize that she had Celiac Disease.

Symptoms include “weight loss, feeling very tired, weakness, gas and bloating and changes in bowel movements,” according to WebMD. If you think you may have Celiac Disease or are considering going gluten-free, visit your doctor for consultation. A simple blood test and follow-up endoscopy can determine if you have it.


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