W.F.C. has issue with book promoting gluten-free diet

by Bakingbusiness Staff
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PARKER, COLO. — The Wheat Foods Council is urging consumers to approach gluten-free dieting with caution in the wake of publication of "G-free Diet: A Gluten Free Survivor’s Guide."

"G-Free Diet" was written by Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who since 2003 has been a cast member of the popular daytime talk show The View. Ms. Hasselbeck first gained fame as a participant in the television series Survivor: The Australian Outback and as the wife of former NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck. She is shown on the cover of her book pushing aside a "column" of bread loaves.

In the book, Ms. Hasselbeck promotes gluten-free dieting not only for those with Celiac disease but for people with a variety of other conditions and suggests that it may be used by those trying to lose weight. She promoted the book in a May 6 appearance on Larry King Live.

In her blog on the W.F.C. web site, the group’s president, Marcia Scheideman, emphasized that Ms. Hasselbeck is not a nutritionist. Ms. Scheideman warned that eliminating gluten from the diet has "absolutely no connection with weight gain, loss or maintenance or for that matter simply feeling good."

The issue is of concern, she said, because a recent survey reported by the American Dietetic Association estimated that 15% to 20% of consumers want gluten-free products, Ms. Scheideman said.

While the interest has prompted a wave of new gluten-free product introductions, a boon to those who are truly intolerant and those with Celiac, Ms. Scheideman offered a number of reasons others should not adopt gluten-free diets.

She said that avoiding gluten in the diet may result in vitamin deficiency and may mask a genuine gluten problem that should be diagnosed.

"If you suspect intolerance to gluten, it is important to see a physician who can find out if your suspicions are valid," she said. "If there is some other reason for your symptoms it is important to find out what that is. Then you can find out whether you truly need to avoid gluten containing foods or can continue to enjoy them."

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