- 24 oysters, raw in shells
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1 lemon
- 6 small jalapeño peppers
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup lime juice
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup grated Romano cheese
- 2 tbsp. crispy bacon pieces
- 1 cup rock salt
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Scrub, wash, and open oysters.
- Line a baking tray with rock salt and place oysters on top.
- Dice finely red bell pepper and jalapeño peppers.
- Mix olive oil, lime juice, chopped parsley, peppers, and grated Romano cheese together.
- Spread equally on top of each oyster.
- Bake for eight to ten minutes or until light brown. Before serving, sprinkle bacon bits on top of the oysters.
Spring/Summer 2017: Key Trends
Spring/summer 2017’s fashion trends have stylists, buyers, editors and anyone else who is interested super-duper, spin-around-your-closet excited. Why? Well, it’s an inherently upbeat season. From the many no-holds-barred interpretations on the 1980s (think lamé, jumbo frills, shoulders, bling and legs) to the most saturated colour palette we’ve seen in a decade (fuschia, scarlet, heliotrope, hazmat, more fuschia!), joy is oozing from every stitch and every seam. Even stripes and florals—those two trusty pillars of the summer print lineup—are back with more bite, more verve and more tempting iterations to make you think again and look twice.
The spirit of the ’80s continues via the runway’s adoption of the more literal aesthetic codes as well as the decade’s DIY culture—this is a season where YOU make the rules. Want to be a punk princess in one of the hundreds of see-through, peekaboo dresses designers have dreamt up in clouds of tulle and embroidery? Then you can—every day of the week. Fancy the idea of wearing whatever, whenever and however you imagine it in that moment? Then the radical mix ‘n’ match styling seen at some of the most influential fashion houses on the block will give you the confidence to do so. Céline’s Phoebe Philo even went so far as to send her models out in mismatched shoes. Who knew?
So if you’ve ever thought that warm-weather trends were predictable as hell (yes, we all yawn when nautical rears its seafaring head), then this is going to change your outlook forever more.
From Left to Right: Balenciaga, Roland Mouret, Max Mara, Emilia Wickstead, 3.1 Phillip Lim
Style Notes: At the S/S 17 shows, you will have seen more fashion editors wearing sunglasses indoors than ever before. Well, when you look at this rainbow of runway exits, can you blame them?
Pink—and lots of it—played a very bold part of the Paris Fashion Week schedule, with the likes of Balenciaga, Céline and Valentino all employing the most shocking shades of this pretty hue for demure dresses. Without frills, prints or girlish detailing, the power of pink was clear to see.
But if that isn’t your vibe, take your pick from the multicolour closet of S/S 17. From Kermit green to sunshine yellow, there’s only one rule: Wear LOTS of it.
From Left to Right: Moschino, Isabel Marant, Rodarte, Saint Laurent, Haider Ackermann
Style Notes: Did you not believe us last season? We predicted that the ’80s trend was no passing one, and the proof was all over the S/S 17 catwalks. If Isabel Marant—our appointed queen of boho—has even stepped into the realm of high-shine fabrics and draped volume, you know this isn’t a decade dip to be ignored.
The essence of the new ’80s redux really lies in after-dark wares. You probably won’t find much of the mood filtering into daywear, but when it comes to going out, there’s much to play with, from silhouette-enhancing nipped waists fastened with giant belts to flirty hemlines balanced out by big shoulders. Crystal earrings and sky-high stilettos are key—and no one did them with more ferociousness than Saint Laurent’s new creative director, Anthony Vaccarello.
From Left to Right: Marques’Almeida, Chloé, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten, Erdem
Style Notes: “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking,” recites every person who has watched The Devil Wears Prada ever. Well, actually, this time around, they really are. So rad in colouration, scale, fabrication and mood that designers thought it best to go full throttle in full blooms from head to toe—shoes included.
From double doses of Rococo-style jacquard florals with ruffles and raw hems at Marques’Almeida to subdued, blousy ’70s bouquets at Chloé and neon carnations at Balenciaga, there is nothing standard about these arrangements. No ditsy prints here in this S/S 17 version of the fashion trend, thanks.
From Left to Right: Gucci, Altuzarra, Miu Miu, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel
Style Notes: Inspired undoubtedly by Gucci opening the doors to an everyday kind of eccentricity, many designers are pushing forward with the concept of mix and match. If that sounds daunting, don’t be afraid. There’s something inherently wearable about the new wave of eclecticism, and you’ll often find that individual pieces are entirely easy to wear on the regular. Take Dolce setting jeans against madcap combination of bejeweled accessories, trophy jacket and motif tee—a great going-out outfit.
How to approach this with ease? A strict colour palette will help, but otherwise, just think about accessorising to the max: See the way Miu Miu’s blue coat is lifted into further gloriousness via a printed stole, tinted frames and lilac platforms?
From Left to Right: Dior, Osman, Molly Goddard, Valentino, Rochas
Style Notes: The see-through dress ruled supreme in London. Well, in a city where the lines between party outfits and day-to-day looks are forever blurred, it makes sense. LFW wunderkind Molly Goddard led the pack with her confections of pastel-hued tulle and the trend continued well into Paris. We fantasised over the balletic ensembles under Maria Grazia Chiuri’s debut Dior collection—Bella Hadid has been the first out and about wearing them, the lucky girl.
So how to wear this semi-opaque spring/summer 2017 fashion essential? Firstly, remember this is a million (pretty-punk) miles away from the A-list world’s “naked dress” obsession. You don’t want tight, and you don’t the want modesty-saving embellishment, because you’ll be layering it up. It’s also dependent on how bravely you’ll dare to bare. Keep it casual by flinging a gossamer-light sheer slip-of-a-thing over jeans and a tee, or go the full nine yards and style out with a flash of giant knickers. The latter is not a formula for work, but it is a fast track to feeling au courant, for sure.
From Left to Right: Loewe, Bottega Veneta, Jil Sander, Stella McCartney, Hermès
Style Notes: Just don’t call it minimalistic. There’s so much more to the catwalk’s beautiful antithesis to all of the mix ‘n’ match madness we’ve already spoken out. This brand of purism comes armed with subtle details to make even the simplest item (take a cardigan, for example) seem like the most exciting thing you’ve ever seen.
From tactile fabrics (micro-pleats through to earthy, luxe, comfortable hessian) designers from J.W.Anderson to Stella McCartney have also played with volume, shape and a seriously practical spectrum of utilitarian colours that go with literally everything you own already. If your fashion approach has always been “less is more,” join the gang.
From Left to Right: Delpozo, Pringle of Scotland, Mulberry, Proenza Schouler, Mary Katrantzou
Style Notes: The graphic, blocky, mind-boggling start to the stripe parade for spring/summer 2017’s fashion trend offering started early on, with almost every major designer in New York choosing this as their pattern du jour. Proenza Schouler’s chopped-up, highly Instagrammable take will surely feature in a thousand and one fashion editorials for the coming season, while we predict a shopping riot for the collegiate stripes pumped out by Johnny Coca on the Mulberry runway during LFW.
If flower-print wearers seem dedicated, don’t think there’s any less of an obsession when it comes to these alternative lines—designers were set on also styling these from head to toe too. Of course, you’re more than welcome to nod to the trend with a natty striped knit or a barcoded pair of heels, but we do like this full-steam-ahead attitude.
Leaders in Diversity & Inclusion
David is in charge of workplace diversity management at a global manufacturing company. He was recently assigned a seemingly basic task. “Focus on minorities,” the executive sponsor of the initiative told him. “I’d like to see our numbers climb from 25 to 45 percent,” he said.
Minorities are largely underrepresented at the company, but David knew that was only a small part of a larger problem. Women are also grossly underrepresented, especially among senior employees. Additionally, there are no current initiatives to hire people with disabilities, nor is there a policy in place that promotes diverse ways of thinking.
Frustrated at the narrowed focus of his duty, David immediately felt discouraged. Through his experiences, he has learned that to achieve greater diversity and inclusion (D&I), organizational efforts will need to focus beyond just the numbers. To effect positive and measurable change within an organization, David knows it is imperative to focus efforts on a collective and multidimensional solution.
Later that day, David chatted with a team of his coworkers in different countries during a conference call. Some of them echoed something he has heard plenty of times in the past. Jason, a colleague in Singapore, stated, “Simply focusing on hiring minorities isn’t enough. The offices here, for example, employ a huge number of minorities, but they aren’t included as key decision makers, and they’re rarely promoted to executive positions.”
David and Jason both agree that their company should continue to hire more people from underrepresented groups, but that a single focus will not do much to solve any of the larger problems. They understand that companies with gender, ethnic and racial diversity are at least 15 percent more likely to experience above-average financial returns. They also know that companies within the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to do the same.
These statistics imply a significant relationship between competitive profit gains and diversity, so why, exactly, is focusing on minorities not enough for a global company?
Why are members of the global workforce — such as David and Jason — frustrated with one-way initiatives that do nothing more than single out certain groups of people?
And most importantly: what can we learn from top companies successfully globalizing workplace diversity and inclusion?
Managing diversity and inclusion in the global workplace is, in many ways, an unmapped territory. As such, we share five lessons from the following top global companies:
- BASF. Earning a spot on DiversityInc’s Top 50 in 2015, 2014 and 2013, BASF is a global force properly leveraging D&I.
- Ford Motor Company. Ford made DiversityInc’s Top 50 an impressive 11 times.
- Sodexo. Sodexo was the recipient of the Catalyst Award in 2012 and earned a spot on DiversityInc’s Top 50 on eight different occasions.
- AIG. In 2015, AIG earned a spot on DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies list for the second year in a row. The company’s talent pipeline, equitable talent development, CEO and senior leadership commitment and supplier diversity were assessed.
- L’Oréal. In 2006, the World Diversity Leadership Council presented L’Oréal USA with the Corporate Diversity Innovation Award, as well as the DANDI Award in 2012.
- Deutsche Bank. Named as one of the Top 50 Employers for Women, Deutsche Bank also won an award for its global sponsorship program ATLAS, which helps women progress to senior positions.
- Bayer. Known for years for its effective eLearning modules and other non-traditional strategies for D&I, Bayer was named a Top 10 Company for Asian Americans, as well as a Top Global Company by DiversityInc.
- Johnson & Johnson. The global healthcare company was listed on DiversityInc’s Top 50 eleven times.
These leading organizations are paving the way for the future of diversity and inclusion. Between fostering innovation and learning to properly monitor — and model — their efforts, we have gleaned from these leading global companies five important lessons for organizations to successfully implement diversity and inclusion efforts that will have global relevance.
Lesson 1: Recognize the Shift in Global Understanding of D&I
As David and Jason realize in the above scenario, diversity today means more than race and gender. There’s growing significance placed on creating environments where a variety of different voices are encouraged and heard. These voices come from people who may or may not be of the same gender, race, or ethnicity. Diversity in the workplace today can include some of the following:
- Sexual orientation
- Religious affiliation
- Personality type
- Thinking style
This new way of thinking about D&I focuses on meeting the needs of the individual and not so much on an HR-centered initiative. Today, it is not only about having diversity within a company but leveraging that diversity to produce better products and services.
It is crucial to hire and maintain a diverse workforce, so gender and racial/ethnic initiatives will be launched and maintained into the foreseeable future. There is much to learn from leaders in diversity and inclusion, but it is important to remember that every company’s D&I initiatives will look different. You should tailor your initiatives to address your specific industry and your company’s areas of weakness. Furthermore, global strategies should be able to be adopted locally.
It is wise to remember that diversity means different things to different people, and organizations will apply those definitions to their companies respectively. For example, the percentage of workers of European ancestry in the UK decreased by almost 10 percentage points over the last ten years. This presents an area of focus unique to the UK workforce.
Another example is the focus on people with disabilities in India, where many people suffer from polio or other diseases because medicine was not available to treat them. Because of this, Deutsche Bank works with a non-governmental organization to train people with disabilities to work at the company.
It’s clear that the shift in D&I still includes, but stretches beyond, race and gender. We are in need of a collective push toward recognizing the need for diverse thinkers coming from a variety of different backgrounds, but companies are only slowly moving in this direction.
Take the story of Todd Sears as an example. He began his career as a Wall Street investment banker in an environment that was not accepting of homosexuality. He eventually found a position in a more welcoming environment, where he flourished and eventually went on to pursue his own firm in a new market: private banking focusing on LGBT clients.
Sears’ statement is a testament to the changing forecast of D&I: “For me, it’s business first, and business as a vehicle to achieve social justice and civil rights.”
His statement provokes further thoughts about for-profit organizations and their dedication to advancing society on a global level. We all know intuitively that D&I initiatives are morally right, but realistically speaking, businesses are going to do what is best for the bottom line. This fact rouses sentiments about social responsibility, and part of this view naturally considers supplier diversity.
Few companies are as successful as Ford when it comes to supplier diversity. In November of 2014, The National Minority Supplier Development Council named Carla Preston of Ford Motor Company a Minority Supplier Development Leader. In 2013, Preston’s efforts led to Ford adding 16 new Tier 1 diverse suppliers to its network, accounting for $4.8 million in spend. That year, Ford granted $1.08 billion of new business to diverse suppliers.
This example proves that a global entity can indeed leverage diversity in many ways and see extremely positive results. This is proof that what is morally right can also be the best business decision.
There are aspects of running a global business that are the same across the board, such as making a profit and putting forth efforts into D&I. There are also unique concerns that come with operating through different cultures and regions.
Lesson 2: Build an Inclusive Environment
Studies show that diversity and inclusion efforts are worthwhile, especially on a global level. In the United Kingdom, senior executive teams proved a 3.5 percent increase in earnings before interest and taxes with every 10 percent increase in gender diversity.
This implies that global business leaders should strive to create an atmosphere where multiple voices are heard, and their opinions are valued and considered. This fact should be engrained in the company culture. In the example scenario, David and Jason realized the importance of an inclusive global workplace, but were frustrated with the focus on a single group of workers – and frustrated that the company culture lacked a focus on global talent.
Few senior executives have realized the importance of a diverse workforce powered with voices of people from different backgrounds, personalities and thinking styles across the global workplace. It has become important to create environments where all people are encouraged to draw upon their unique experiences, perspectives and backgrounds to advance business goals. To achieve this in a global work setting, it’s crucial to employ effective global communication and training efforts.
Healthcare provider Johnson & Johnson, for example, realized that to be successful in global diversity, it needed culturally appropriate efforts launched for every region. The company was struggling to combine its diversity efforts in the United States and Europe, so it conducted its first-ever live video conference on mutual perceptions, diversity and respect. Clients and employees reported increased productivity, and over 100 survey participants reported the conference was the most valuable training they had ever experienced.
Another example of a global company realizing the depth and scope of inclusive environments is Deutsche Bank, a signatory and founding member of diversity charters in Germany, Spain and Luxembourg. About 42 percent of its employees are female. Eileen Taylor of Deutsche explained, “We are in 75 countries and we hire the best talent in each locale. Diverse teams and companies make better decisions.”
Considering these examples, it’s clear that some of the top organizations around the world have set an example for diverse and inclusive global work environments. As these organizations continue their efforts and others follow, how do they continuously improve? And, more importantly, what areas of D&I are companies still falling short?
Sixty-five percent of 321 executives of large global companies surveyed by Forbes Insights claimed to have a plan in place to recruit a diverse workforce — but only 44 percent employ retention programs. This signifies a gap in collective progress when it comes to retaining diversity and inclusion in the workplace. In other words, you cannot simply have diversity; you must learn to leverage and nurture it so that it can thrive.
Lesson 3: Use Multiple Practices and Measures
Diversity and inclusion should not be treated as a ‘one-off’ initiative. Many leaders struggle with how to manage workplace diversity. Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace is a constant work in progress, and it should be maintained and nurtured to be effective.
According to a 2014 HUDSON Research & Consulting study that interviewed interviewed six D&I leaders from leading non-U.S.-based companies, there is a need for multiple initiatives and many sources of feedback.
Instead of looking at turnover rates and other numbers, there is a need for measuring ROI based on different indicators and granular information, such as employee responses and consistent feedback about policies.
Chemistry giant BASF employs a talent dashboard that allows leaders to gauge D&I progress by asking comprehensive questions about their thoughts on the hiring process and retention trends. This ensures that multiple voices are heard and encourages employees to voice their opinions. Strategies like this give a voice to employees who might not otherwise express their opinions.
Another example of a successful global company utilizing multiple practices and measures is the German chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer. It uses eLearning modules as a way of providing ongoing education to employees. This type of resource provides employees with consistent reminders of the company’s values and expectations.
David and Jason at the global manufacturing company would likely appreciate such efforts. A talent dashboard would allow them to voice their concerns in a safe atmosphere, as well as show them that leadership cares about their concerns. The eLearning modules would serve as a way to educate employees across the globe, placing emphasis on things that matter beyond racial and gender diversity.
The takeaway is that your global company should have solutions in place to monitor and retain a talented and diverse workforce, such as any of the following:
- Global mentoring programs
- Employee resource groups
- Multicultural talent management
- Strategic partnership development
- e-Learning modules
Lesson 4: Ensure Leaders Model Diversity and Inclusion
It is critical that senior leadership model diversity and inclusion. When senior leaders own D&I and make themselves a part of the diversity and inclusion management process, it sets the tone for the rest of the organization to follow suit. “I have to be the champion of diversity and inclusion,” said L’Oréal USA CEO Frédéric Rozé. “It is my job to be a role model and show how important this is to our company.”
BASF is an excellent example of a global company that introduces D&I training programs to senior executives to promote diversity throughout the organization. BASF’s Ambassador Network includes over 500 employees worldwideand encourages the creation of an “open corporate culture that values every individual.”
Is there a secret formula to learning how to manage workplace diversity, especially considering the breadth of differences between global companies? Here are three steps imperative to obtaining inclusive leadership.
1. Seek diversity
Companies must pull applicants from a diverse pool using the best techniques. Most global companies understand this fact, but it is not enough. Best practices include training hiring managers to ensure the hiring criteria and process is inclusive.
2. Create inclusion
It is not enough to only hire a diverse workforce. It is crucial to leverage diverse perspectives for the benefit of the business as a whole. It is important to bring awareness to unconscious bias and discuss it in terms of the organization. In doing so, multiple perspectives are shared and considered.
3. Drive accountability
Leaders in diversity and inclusion should make it clear that your global environment promotes free speaking. Encourage employees to speak out against biases. If necessary, launch a culture change in which every employee is involved.
This process can be slow and intimidating, but your efforts will pay off when employees feel empowered to take individual accountability and let you know when they notice a bias. Diversity and inclusion activities in the workplace are not always a simple process. In fact, sometimes they can be quite messy. But it is often in these situations — in which employees step outside of their comfort zones and are faced with new situations and ideas — that tremendous growth occurs.
A global organization catching on to this need for inclusive leadership is Ford Motor Company, which recognizes the need for leveraging different skills and perspectives, and for “respecting each other, and, in doing so, achieving profitable growth for all.”
Kiersten Robinson, Vice President of Human Resources, Asia Pacific and Africa at Ford, was born in Ireland and immigrated to Australia as a child. She experienced cultural differences and was always well aware of her own as an immigrant. She learned at a young age the positive outcomes born from leveraging diversity and integrated that knowledge into her career. Robinson believes that organizations should use varying insights and perspectives as opportunities to increase customer satisfaction.
Lesson 5: Recognize the Connection Between Innovation and D&I
Perhaps the most significant lesson is that diversity and inclusion spark innovation. In AIG’s 2014 corporate citizen report, for example, it included leveraging cognitive diversity to drive innovation as a D&I principle. According to the global enterprise, diversity and inclusion increase innovation and reduce business risk.
The enterprise focused its efforts on three areas in 2014:
- Nomination programs. It hosted training for 350 employees in nine countries representing the enterprise’s every region. The efforts focused on women and under-represented groups.
- Training programs. A global initiative was launched in over 20 countries to address general diversity and also train managers in cultural competence, generation diversity and unconscious bias.
- Employee resource groups. The enterprise’s employee resource groups experienced a growth rate of 76 percent in one year. It expanded to 10 different dimensions of diversity, added to 36 existing chapters and launched 37 new groups.
This new trend among top global companies fostering innovation in the workplace encourages other global businesses to do the same.
If you want to begin exploring the concept of cognitive diversity in the workplace, know that it focuses on diversity of thinking and is composed of four dimensions:
- Perspectives. People represent situations in different ways. In the global workplace, it will help to have multiple perspectives when it comes to representing a problem, as they will see different possible solutions.
- Interpretations. Employees interpret situations, problems and other people in different ways, classifying them accordingly. Through diverse interpretations, teams can discover multiple resolutions.
- Heuristics. People resolve issues in different ways, proving there are multiple ways to arrive at a conclusion.
- Predictive models. To make predictions, some people analyze, and others look for a story. Both are useful to discovering workplace solutions.
Cognitive diversity breeds high performance while completing complex tasks. Global workforces powered with diverse thinkers hold the ability to foster innovation. It is important to note that there are two possible roadblocks to this innovation:
- Unconscious bias
- A corporate culture that doesn’t promote sharing any and all opinions
Unconscious bias is difficult to overcome, but there are steps you can take to overcome it in the global workplace:
- Realize your tendencies and natural reactions to people different from you in some way.
- Expand your support network and go to different people for advice.
- Invite more people to make important decisions.
World leader in quality-of-life services Sodexo is well known for its forward thinking and ability to recognize bias. The company was recognized with one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers awards for two years in a row. President of Sodexo Canada Barry Telford explained, “Diversity is not just about each group getting their moment. We must all work together to identify bias and make a commitment at all levels of the organization not to overlook our most talented and resilient team members.”
Leaders in diversity and inclusion should reward employees who are not afraid to voice an unpopular opinion or suggest something different than what’s expected. Dr. Rohini Anand of Sodexo USA said, “Inclusive leadership starts with self-awareness, being introspective, knowing your blind spots and possessing the ability to listen and learn.”
The ability to listen and learn can only be valuable if employees are encouraged to speak their minds, even when they are expressing an unpopular opinion or suggesting a new idea. Smart, successful global teams understand that differing opinions spark innovation — and that it is a crucial part of high performance. Without recognizing bias and considering different viewpoints, growth will likely be slow moving.
David and Jason’s global manufacturing company would likely benefit from an amended corporate culture that promotes diverse thinkers and promotes recognizing unconscious bias. They would likely experience fewer workplace frustrations as employees are encouraged to voice their opinions and multiple solutions are considered.
With so many considerations, it can be difficult to know where to start or where to focus your efforts. Learning to leverage global workplace diversity is far from simple, and learning to manage, maintain and measure your efforts will take time. Leaders in diversity and inclusion have taught us that it is an ongoing process, and it might require the help of an outside source — one that specializes in global diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Consider Aperian Global®
If you are ready to leverage diversity and create a more inclusive global workplace, consider Aperian Global. We work with individuals like David to help navigate the best approach to diversity and inclusion. We will ensure you develop a solution that is global in reach and local for adaptability.
Our consulting services include globalization of diversity and inclusion initiatives, employee resource groups and affinity networks, and embedding diversity and inclusion into the organization’s culture.
- Consulting to support the globalization of diversity and inclusion initiatives, enhancing the effectiveness of employee resource groups & affinity networks, and embedding diversity and inclusion into organizational culture
- Learning programs to recognize and address Unconscious Bias in the workplace
- Diversity and Inclusion and Inclusive Leadership facilitated, customized learning programs
- Online learning tools to support a inclusive environment such as, Creating an Inclusive WorkplaceSM & Leveraging Diverse StylesSM
Gluiten Free Diet: Facts & Myths
Who should be on a gluten-free diet?
Individuals who have celiac disease require a gluten-free diet for health reasons. Ingestion of gluten in these individuals causes an adverse reaction which damages intestinal cells and can lead to serious health problems.
People who experience an adverse reaction to gluten but who do not have celiac disease may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (also called “gluten sensitivity”). In this condition the problems caused by gluten are not thought to be as extensive as in celiac disease, but for both conditions the treatment is a gluten-free diet.
What is a gluten-free diet?
Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley which cause an adverse reaction in people with gluten-related disorders. On a gluten-free diet, these grains and any foods or ingredients derived from them must be removed from the diet. This includes the obvious breads, pastas and baked goods made with gluten-containing flours, but may also include less obvious foods such as sauces, salad dressings, soups and other processed foods, since these can contain small amounts of ingredients derived from gluten-containing grains. (Oats are naturally gluten-free, but are often contaminated with wheat in growing and/or processing, so only oats which are certified gluten-free are acceptable on a gluten-free diet.)
Common misconceptions about the gluten-free diet
The gluten-free diet is sometimes promoted as a way to lose weight, or as a “healthier” diet for the general population. These claims are unfounded. The gluten-free diet is healthier for people with gluten-related disorders (celiac disease or gluten sensitivity), but there is no evidence that it is beneficial for people who do not have these conditions.
- The presence or absence of gluten alone is not related to diet quality. What’s important is the overall food choices made within the diet, whether it’s gluten-free or not.
- If an individual whose diet contains large amounts of breads, pastas and cookies (especially those made from refined flours) switches to a gluten-free diet which eliminates these foods while increasing fruits, vegetables and other healthful gluten-free foods, the resulting diet would likely be healthier.
- On the other hand, this same person could easily substitute gluten-free breads, pastas and cookies into the diet, without increasing intake of healthful gluten-free foods like vegetables and fruits. In this case a person may actually experience a reduction in diet quality, since many gluten-free processed foods are lower in fiber, vitamins and minerals than their gluten-containing counterparts. This type of gluten-free diet may be higher in calories, since many processed gluten-free foods contain higher levels of fat and/or sugar to compensate for flavor and texture changes which result from the removal of gluten. Any diet that is higher in calories is likely to promote weight gain, not weight loss.
What symptoms could indicate the need for a gluten-free diet?
Symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are similar and may include: recurring abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea/constipation, tingling/numbness in hands and feet, chronic fatigue, joint pain, unexplained infertility and low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis). There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.
What to do if you think gluten may be causing your symptoms
Consult with your personal physician/health care provider before giving up gluten. This is very important because the standard blood testing done as a first step to diagnosing these conditions is not meaningful unless gluten is being consumed for a significant period of time before testing. It is also important to consult with your healthcare provider in order to evaluate other possible causes of symptoms.
How are celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity diagnosed?
The first step to testing for both conditions is a panel of blood tests looking for an antibody response to gluten. If these tests are positive, the next step is an endoscopy. If the endoscopy shows the intestinal cell damage characteristic of celiac disease, this is considered the gold standard of celiac disease diagnosis.
There is currently no specific diagnostic test for non-celiac gluten sensitivity; instead, it is a “rule out” diagnosis. Consequently, the celiac disease testing described above would be done. In addition, wheat allergy and other potential causes of symptoms should be ruled out. If all of these conditions have been ruled out and the patient responds positively to a gluten-free diet, then the diagnosis of non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be made.
How many people have gluten-related disorders?
It’s estimated that in the U.S. approximately 1 in 100 people have celiac disease. The prevalence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not established but may be significantly higher. Only about 17% of people with celiac disease have been diagnosed.