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Anthony Demetre - A FALSE Gluten Free (Coeliac) Dieter
Losing our Sanity in Society
Gluten free fad diets have been emerging from all around the world and are beginning to get the better of the sanity in our society. Many people decide to go on 'gluten free "fad"' diets for a variety of reasons, including the unexplainable. However, many instances include a lack of self-esteem, seeking attention, seeking popularity, allowing 'food' take control of our minds, etc. Rarely does one on a gluten free "fad" diet take the avoidance of gluten-containing cereals seriously. More often, they typically taint society's perception of Coeliac Disease and the true implications it poses on 1 in less than 100 people living today. Some fad dieters will allow 'trace amounts' of gluten in their diets on a daily basis. Others will fully eliminate gluten from the diet for a period of time, but then re-introduce gluten-laden foods for a short period of time.
Demetre's attempt to Taint the recognised Definition of Coeliac Disease
Anthony Demetre (head chef of Arbutus restaurant in London, UK and demonstrator on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen), is a prime example of the latter. On Saturday 9 April, 2011, a flippant statement was made by this man on BBC's most recent episode of Saturday Kitchen, broadcast throughout Britain and Ireland.
During a segment of the show, he claims that he was diagnosed as a coeliac 5 years ago. He then mentions that he remains on a strict gluten-free diet for three months, before blatantly bragging that he consumes as much pasta and pizza in a two week period as he can "get a hold of".
The following statement (in his words) was made:
"I mean... I, I go on this diet with absolutely no gluten for about three months, and uh; and then for two weeks I just eat as much pasta and pizza as I can get hold of. Because I can't cut it out completely, fully because the body just rejects it when you do have it” (Demetre, April 2011)
Personally, while I fail to see what had occurred to him to make such a remark, it does not surprise me in the least that this incident occurred. In terms of happening, it was an inevitability; a matter of when rather than whether.
Many complaints from coeliacs, their friends and family, have been submitted to the British Broadcasting Corporation regarding this specific matter. While (unbelievably) one of the United Kingdom's most reputable cooks, I personally do not believe that this man (like any other) should be in any position to disseminate inaccurate information regarding the gluten free diet in relation to coeliac disease without some repercussions. Think about children just learning about their food issues. What about parents, teachers, chiroporactic and medical professionals who are working hard to create awareness. This man has just made a full-on attempt (whether intended or not) to undo all of this.
On a wretched note, it seems as though he is easily tempted by gluten-containing foods, since he 'can't cut it out completely'. As a man with such a reasonable level of expertise in the cooking and catering industry, obviously he does substantially know about the true implications of coeliac disease. Therefore, I'm sure I could safely conclude that his 'lack of knowledge' regarding the subject would not be the reason for such arrogance. More likely, it is due to the fact that he simply has not been able to overcome his cravings for bread, pizza and pasta to enough of an extent that keeping his life in order is less of a priority for him than satisfying his cravings. Cooking a large variety of gluten-containing foods all day I'm sure would make things difficult in this regard. The only reason one's body would not *appear* to 'reject' gluten when re-introduced on a regular basis would be due to gut damage that has occurred as a result of gluten consumption. Often symptoms will subdue on their own after one with coeliac disease eats gluten for a period of time, as many of the nerve tissues designed to absorb nutrients from food have been significantly flattened and damaged. Coeliac disease is an extremely serious condition, and whilst not as lethal as some other immune-related food issues it is certainly not benign. Perhaps he's just "saying" it to sound cool. Is it even true?
It is also a real shame that he did not address the true picture (i.e. the true severity of coeliac disease). I don't have a problem with individuals adopting gluten free "FAD" diets, however when inaccurate information is provided (intentionally or even unintentionally), it is deceptive to individuals and needs to be stopped.
In any case, the above statement should have never been made. He will have to do an awful lot to regain my respect, and I am very sorry that so many within the UK have now been exposed to such an extremely deceptive definition of 'what coeliac disease is'. Probably not the last time for us either (sigh).
As I live in Australia, I have never heard of this man (Anthony Demetre) before. However, I am noticing that many restaurants and food service establishments just don't seem to be looking after those with coeliac disease in a proper manner. I have taken many of these companies to task. I will also take individuals who delude society with regard to the seriousness of our condition.
That being mentioned, I (however) am pleased to see so many within the UK and Ireland standing up, putting out their hands and taking both Demetre and the BBC to task on the matter. It is great to hear of so many caring parents, teachers, canteen officers and friends pin-pointing this matter, and I personally hope that this continues so that we can create a better understanding of the TRUE implications of this increasingly common but (more importantly) serious disease.
Meanwhile, individuals concerned should regard this man's opinion as just that - one man's (deluded) opinion. Perhaps not even an opinion, but more; a joke. I now think of the guy himself as a total joke and drop-kick, and we need to ensure as much awareness of this disease as possible.
I do hope the BBC does take the time to apologise for this incident, and inform us (as consumers) of what preventative actions will be taken in future so that such an incident does not re-occur. If this can be accomplished, they will have made an enormous step in the right direction.
Edited to Add [11/Apr/11]
Phil Vickery, a well-known celebrity chef in the country, and an ambassador for Coeliac UK has given his perspective on the show:
“After seeing Saturday’s BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, and receiving emails I have to make the following comments. It just goes to prove that this awful disease is still looked on as a joke and in a very flippant way in the certain areas of the catering industry, that frankly, really should know better.
This sort of ill informed advice or statement coming from a well respected chef sends out the totally wrong message. It also magnifies, just how little is known and more worryingly how much these guys actually care about Coeliac disease in the restaurant environment.
It should be compulsory for all young chefs to undergo basic training in all areas regarding diseases and allergies, sadly until that happens, we are going to have to put up with the sort of moronic comment time and time again.”
I agree entirely however, as they always say, actions speak louder than words.