A revolutionary health trend involving the exclusion of gluten from the diet has lately gained prominence in the realm of dieting, primarily as a method of weight loss. Ever health conscious and trendy, many students at Texas A&M have decided to restrict their diets to the consumption of only gluten-free foods. These students choose not to eat or drink anything containing gluten, including bread, cookies, and beer, somehow surviving by eating only meat, fruit, and vegetables.
Brian Smith, junior RPTS major, determined that he was gluten intolerant 2 months ago after a grueling self-examination. Smith believes that the gluten free lifestyle is a serious choice, and not one to be taken lightly.
“It’s definitely a lifestyle choice that takes a lot of commitment and humility. You really need to be able to deny yourself, but at the same time, you need to be careful to let other people know that you don’t think you’re better than them for deciding to abstain. Even if you are,” said Smith.
Smith said he enjoyed learning his limits and discovering the cardboard-like taste of many gluten-free bread products.
“It’s all part of the sacrifice. You really need to be able to find a reason to keep going, or you can easily slip back into the dangerous zone of eating things that taste good,” said Smith.
However, Smith’s resolution was short lived, when he realized he chose to go gluten free a mere 8 weeks before his 21st. Smith grudgingly rescinded his new lifestyle choice when he realized he would not be able to drink beer on his birthday
“I struggled with the idea for entire days. It just felt like I would be giving up such an important part of my life,” Smith said.
Giving up his newly beloved gluten free diet was hard for Smith, as he truly felt this was something to which he was deeply committed, and he had expected to righteously forego the taste of bread for the rest of his life.
But given the choice between potential weight loss and a night of shotgunning natty light, Smith decided it was in his best interests to override his self-prescribed dietary restrictions.
“It’s just not the right time for this,” Smith said, adding that he would consider re-converting at a later date.
Smith does not blame peer pressure, as drinking beer and possessing a gluten allergy seem to be almost equally popular activities these days. He simply laments that he was caught between such a rock and hard place in having to decide between the two.
Some students are, in fact, gluten intolerant. Their bodies cannot process the gluten contained in many foods, and so they do not have a choice in the matter.
Kristen McNeal, a sophomore biomedical engineer, is one such student. Last year, McNeal was diagnosed by a doctor with Celiac’s disease, an autoimmune disorder caused by a reaction to gluten. McNeal experiences physical pain when she eats gluten, and expressed confusion as to why anyone would choose to impose such a limitation upon themselves.
“I just really don’t get why someone would choose to be gluten free if they don’t have to be. Do they just hate normal tasting food? I think I actually gained weight when I stopped eating gluten products,” McNeal said.
Smith says he did not lose any weight during his gluten-free period. He has, however, reported significant weight gain since his 21st birthday.