Thanks for nothing, Paul Little

Dear Mr Little

The gluten-intolerant community of New Zealand thanks you for your interesting and obviously well-researched opinion piece in the Sunday Herald, January 13th 2013. It is comforting to know that because my gluten-intolerance is not life-threatening, it is therefore not something I should mention when ordering food, for fear of being considered high-maintenance. I will also inform my bank balance that my gluten-intolerance is a “cost-effective” way of making myself feel special. Perhaps you could also alert manufacturers of gluten-free food of this fact as well, so that I am not forced to pay 50-400% more for gluten-free products than I would for those containing gluten ($7.89 for a small loaf of bread anyone?). I also appreciate knowing that my “acquired allergy” does not require the purchase of expensive equipment or an arduous course of study. I must have been mistaken about learning to cook all over again using products which do not contain gluten. Please also let the supermarkets know that it is no longer necessary for them to group gluten-free items together to make it easier for me to shop, because I have the extra time available to me to walk the aisles looking for the products hidden away amongst the normal items.

You do pay lip service to those genuine sufferers in the last sentence of your diatribe article by referring to “…the much smaller number of people whose lives are made a misery by truly severe cases” and for that I thank you. However, as someone only suffering from gluten-intolerance, I fall squarely into the category of the rest of the people you refer to in your article. Yes I can eat gluten. No, it does not make me fart (well, no more than any other food) – it causes me to have eczema. It was diagnosed by a blood test, so I guess I don’t fall into your “self-diagnosed” camp, but actually, I was one of the lucky ones whose doctor authorised the blood test. The rest of us have to eliminate food groups one at a time to determine what causes the dietary issues we’re having. Oh wait, so we’ve self-diagnosed by going without a certain food for 3-6 months – apparently a scientific method, as it’s what the medical professionals recommend as the best course of action for identifying food allergies.

As someone who is gluten-intolerant, I appreciate and patronise those establishments who make an effort to cater for me. I will also continue to ask the wait staff whether there is anything gluten-free on their menu – no matter how uncomfortable it makes me when I feel I am coming across as a high-maintenance diner. I am one of the lucky ones – if I do inadvertently eat gluten, I am not made ill by it. However the number of people who are coeliac and who do suffer from even one mouthful of gluten-filled food  -not just in feeling ill – and farting more- but in the damage it does to their intestines – MUST ask these questions to maintain their level of health.

I appreciate that your article is an opinion piece, and may even be a satiric opinion piece, but for those of us who are gluten-intolerant, it was unwelcome, ill-informed and a long way from entertaining. Food allergy is a real complaint and differs from fad diets, and trust me, it is not something that anyone would choose. As to gluten-intolerance being a new complaint, this is because of the new strains of wheat and the fact that we do not eat the way we  used to 50 years ago.

Please do browse my blog, read my experiences, and then click a few of the links to blogs of those who are far more serious sufferers than I am to get a more balanced view on your article.

Wishing you all the best in your own dietary endeavours, and hoping that you are never diagnosed with any kind of food allergy.

Lisa Rose

I have emailed the text of this to Paul Little, the editor of the Herald, the editor of the Herald on Sunday and the online editor of the Herald. Will keep you posted as to whether I get a response!


14 thoughts on “Thanks for nothing, Paul Little

  1. as someone that spent yesterday arvo and all night in the bathroom and now with a burning rash and headache and pain everywhere because of potential gluten contamination in my food at lunch yesterday… yeah that is not a great article… totally dismisses how life-altering it is… i found out in march last year i’m allergic to gluten and its changed my life. and on a day like yesterday when i am disrupted by reacting its terrible – and i dont function.

    ps i’m kiwi too and your blog has so encouraged me and given me ideas on kiwi food and kiwi places! thankyou!

    • Thanks so much for your very kind comments and I’m sorry yesterday was so awful for you!! Yes, I think Paul Little wrote this as a piece against fad diets and people pretending to have allergies, but it was so ill-informed I had to say something!

  2. I will have to track down this article for a read. That sort of thing is very frustrating to hear. If I could eat anything and everything I would. I don’t understand why but some people do try a gluten free diet as a fad, quick weight loss because you are cutting out bread and cakes and stuff. Really?! You don’t have to go gluten free to do that, and all it does is make those of us who do have to be gluten free put up with this sort of ‘opinion piece’ and dirty looks from people who think we are just being difficult. If only it was that simple. Thanks Lisa Rose, for putting into words what we all think.

      • Hi Lisa Rose, I found the link thanks. And read some of the comments to it, some were rather delightful and then of course some were even more uninformed than the article itself. At least it all keeps gluten free in peoples mind and we’ll slowly educate everyone of the importance of it to those that need it.

  3. I am a coeliac and just as incensed. For me asking for GF food in a restaurant is a medical necessity not because I prefer doing things that way. What an utter idiot. How can NZH afford to keep him employed.

    • Thanks for commenting Sylvia. As I noted to Nicole at Elocin foods, he’s actually not talking about diagnosed coeliacs, more about those who decide that they have a gluten allergy. But some of his comments are totally ill-informed!! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Thanks for the comment! They actually published an edited version of my letter in the Sunday Herald last week, along with two others. There was absolutely an outcry. I wonder if he reads them or just ignores? Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • Hi Ashley. An abridged version of my letter was published in last weekend’s Sunday Herald which was quite exciting. Nothing from Paul Little though, not even a basic response in the paper, which I think is a bit poor. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. i have only recently gone gluten free, I’m 22 and lived on a student staple of pasta and pizza. I’m always hungry, i cannot go out with friends very often for meals. it has put a real spanner in my “normal” day to day. but in saying that, it is a lot better than the crippling stomach pain i was getting from gluten. spending days in and out of hospital, bent over a toilet seat, or in fact sitting on it with my face in a bucket! he should give it a go, id love for him to experience EXACTLY how it feels to not be able to eat gluten. plus its embarrassing, everyone thinks I’m on some new diet! continuously hunting for recipes before every meal, its not very fun! if anyone was doing it to just be a pain in the arse, then they mustn’t have very much else going on because my god, its time consuming!

    p.s i found this blog through healthy food and i am so pleased! nz doesn’t have enough Apps and blogs etc out there and i find it difficult because they american ones have totally different products! thanks!!

    • I’m so pleased you’ve found me!! I’m sorry to hear about the bad experiences you’ve had though. HFG has lots of great gluten-free ideas and easy ways to convert normal food into something we can eat without it being a big drama. All the very best and please do stop by again!

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