Part of me greatly appreciates the Paleo diet fad for making gluten free products and recipes more common place. However, there is a little part of me that does not like the fad at all. I have a Gluten Intolerance. I also have a peanut allergy. The Paleo diet excludes gluten and peanuts, among other things, so therefore if something is Paleo then it is safe for me....maybe*. I'm not ever going to say that eating healthier is a bad idea. I think the ideas behind someone going Paleo are fine if that is better for someone's body. My problem is with the lack of understanding on what it means to be Gluten Intolerant. Paleo is a choice, food allergies and intolerance's are NOT a choice. When a person chooses to adopt the Paleo diet they don't have to worry about the gluten that their cheat meals (from what I understand most do 1-2 cheats a week) include things like breads, or sushi (which you eat with soy sauce which has gluten in it). They don't have to worry about getting really sick because the vegetable soup at a restaurant uses a broth that includes gluten but it isn't clearly labeled. If there are no Paleo options at a party or when traveling their body is not going to be damaged if they have a sandwich. I bet most of them don't even realized that a lot of restaurants burgers (without the bun would be Paleo) put gluten in the burger meat. They don't have to worry that the server at the restaurant just lied to them (on purpose or on accident) and told them it was gluten free when it wasn't (that does happen).
Paleo is a choice, Gluten Intolerance and Celiac disease are NOT a choice. The other really important factor I have to constantly think about is cross contamination. This one is really hard for most people to understand. Someone who is Paleo does not have to worry about residue from peanut butter being on something their food is going to touch. Example, my husband gives a little peanut butter to the dog and a little bit falls on the counter. I then going to make dinner and that drop of peanut butter gets on my food and run the risk of having a reaction and possibly needing to use my Epi pen and go to the emergency room. When it comes to gluten cross contamination think about things like a toaster, are there crumbs leftover from regular bread? Was that knife washed thoroughly after it cut a regular bagel? Did you just use the same serving utensil in the green bean casserole that was meant only for the mashed potatoes? I know it seems like overkill, but for someone with Celiac disease it's not. For them, every crumb of gluten can actually cause permanent damage to the lining of their stomach.
When I tell people I'm gluten free so many of them say "Oh you're Paleo" or "Oh me too!" and for them it's a choice. Someone who says, "I can cook a safe dinner for you" has no idea what it really means to cook a safe dinner. I can't tell you how many times I hear someone say they are gluten free and then watch them drink a regular gluten loaded beer, or eat a regular piece of bread. People talk about how much weight they lost going gluten free and I just shake my head. I gained weight. Gluten free products are often make with rice or potato flour. This actually have more calories and fats and sugars and less nutrients. You do not lose weight by going Gluten Free. You lose weight by cutting the processed starches from your diet.
Adopting the Paleo diet is not simple or fun. I also think it is a great way to encourage people to eat healthier and more natural foods. I have a friend who eats Paleo (most of the time) and says she feels great now. Most people who have been Paleo for a while feel heavy or slow after eating a meal full of gluten. But that's just the thing...they CAN eat gluten, or peanuts, or other foods that some would die after eating.
*I am not a Paleo expert or a nutritionist or a medial doctor.