In my post on the bandwagon fallacy, I used the popularity of certain food fads as my example. One of those fads is the current gluten-free craze. This article from NPR by James S. Fell discusses how this fad has created difficulties for people who have actually been diagnosed with celiac disease. These folks, unlike those who refer to themselves as gluten intolerant, experience severe health consequences from eating gluten – and they comprise only about 1% of the population. Just like with everything else, fads like this must be considered with a critical eye. Anecdotal evidence from people who say they feel better when they cut gluten out of their diets is not the same as the results of rigorous, controlled, peer-reviewed studies of the effects of dietary gluten. It may well be that the so-called and frequently self-diagnosed gluten intolerant feel better because they are eating more healthfully in general – e.g., if you have cut out gluten, then you’ve probably cut out a lot of processed junk foods like pastries, donuts, etc. and substituted with less processed foods. So beware of fads, be compassionate and understanding of those who actually have celiac disease, and don’t be too quick to jump on the bandwagon.