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Opinion The righteous sacrifice of bread

George HasaraYou, or someone you love, may have amylophobia. I fortunately don't have it, which is good since I can't pronounce it. The word amylophobia originated during an anti-bread movement in the 1920s and it translates as “the fear of starch.” The latest incarnation of this theme has zeroed in on gluten, the protein component of wheat and other grains. An expanded list of offending foods have emerged that range from bread and pasta to beer and pretzels. The gluten list also includes non-grain products such as sauces, seasoning, juices, etc. that can have gluten introduced during processing.

There's plenty of money to be made by not selling something. Gluten-free products are big business. A pizzeria chain in Ohio is test-marketing a pizza - sans the dough. The crust is a soy composition, so there is a “bottom” to place the toppings on. At least the pizza maker doesn't have to worry about hand-tossing the dough. They should take it a couple steps further and make the pizza edible for lactose intolerant folks and for vegetarians. Tofu and tomato sauce sounds yummy.

Gluten intolerance has emerged as a popular designer disease. While there is a very real condition known as Celiac disease that requires avoiding gluten, it is far rarer than the garden variety of gluten sensitivity that so many have recently discovered they have. Many of those folks also want everyone possible to know what ails them.

A fascinating thing about gluten intolerance is that it is so ambiguous and vague. The description reads like the generalities of a horoscope. Symptoms of possible gluten intolerance include bloating, constipation, diarrhea, mood swings, weight gain, weigh loss, lack of energy, headaches and general aches and pains. So, if you're not dead, you are probably a candidate for gluten intolerance.

Matching up with the broad spectrum of symptoms is the fact there is not a direct laboratory test to determine gluten intolerance. If you abstain from gluten products and it seems like there is an improvement, then voila! With so many possible symptoms and so many things that affect our everchanging body chemistry, I am hesitant to claim clarity concerning cause and effect when it comes to changing dietary habits. I've tried my share of healthy foods, supplements and vitamins over the years and the word that keeps turning up is “inconclusive,” which is another way of saying “waste of money.” Various literature usually sounds convincing regarding what to ingest or not to ingest for better health, but the proof is in the gluten-free pudding. At some point, one has to actually feel markedly better. And, if you do – more power to you.

However, I suspect that something else, other than healthy living is at play when it comes to bread bashing. There is a growing form of asceticism with some becoming food monks, believing purity is achieved through dietary abstinence. There is no more basic and enjoyable food than bread for one to forgo. When was the last time you heard someone say they decided to quit eating asparagus? After all, spargarophobia is pretty rare – so far.


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