Dragon’s Din

I’ve said it before but to repeat: I have no issue with people following the diet they choose, but I do with those who urge others to follow suit, without recourse to medical or dietetic advice, and on the basis of false logic.

“It worked for me therefore it will work for you” is an example of such logic, one Novak Djokovic has apparently failed to see the flaw in. And today another expression of it came from entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne, in a sequence of tweets, encouraging his several hundred thousand followers to alter their diet and ‘go gluten free for a better life’, as gluten was ‘becoming a health risk’.

I objected, pointing out that was not good advice, not supported by dieticians, and asked him to reconsider his statement. This was batted away: he made the baffling claim that gluten-free “is not a diet”. Further attempts at reasoning didn’t work; other voices objected but were rejected too. He was rude to several. I was told I talked “terrible rubbish that allows many people to suffer the effects of too much gluten”. Read more here, if you care; you’ll find other ill-informed noise on his stream, which he continued to tweet, despite the concerns raised. The sorry saga culminated in today’s key accomplishment:

Why is he so deluded? I can only suppose from his stream it’s because he had a transformative experience on the gluten-free diet (good for him), has come to regard gluten as evil, and believes it needs to be banished from everybody’s diet. This is a depressingly common arrogance: a failure to appreciate that one’s own body is not the same as everyone else’s body, and an insult to the medics and dieticians who are the only ones qualified to adjudicate on the truth or falsehood of medical issues.

Gluten is known to be evil only to those with gluten-related disorders, as peanut is evil to those with peanut allergies. I’ve written extensively before about why casually giving up gluten is not advised, so will only remind readers that, if you have undiagnosed coeliac disease, it is important to keep gluten in your diet until the diagnostic procedures are fully completed, and that if you switch to an elective gluten-free diet, the best advice is do it with the support of a trained dietitian, who understands that a GFD can be difficult to follow and may leave you vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies, if you don’t know what you are doing. It’s not to be taken lightly.

Someone needs to advise Bannatyne about all this, before he continues to misinform those who follow him. I’ve asked some health bodies to act on what he wrote today, and hope some people continue to politely point out the folly of his advice, should he dish it out again. I no longer can.

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