Gluten-free Oreos are coming to market soon. This is a big deal to a lot of people. While many folks on restricted diets are happy about gluten-free Oreos because an old favorite is available to them, for me, the significance is much more substantial.
In my opinion, the importance of their release has nothing to do with adding another processed, sugary food to the ample supply of gluten-free products on the market. Goodness knows there is no shortage of those. This is about inclusion and normalcy.
While I think it is essential to use diet as a part of medical treatment for many conditions (and the only treatment for celiac disease), we have to remember the following.
The mental effects and emotional burden of following a restricted diet are real. Exclusion, deprivation, avoidance, social isolation, depression, and anxiety are all terms that come to mind when considering a restrictive diet needed as a part of treatment.
The Flip Side
So while many may see the rollout of gluten-free Oreos as yet another marketing ploy by corporate America to feed us and our children processed foods, I see it as progress. Yes, it will make corporations money; and they probably have dollar signs and not mental health as their motive. But, I view it as an opportunity for the community of people on medically restricted diets to be included in seemingly ordinary events. What seems mundane to others, matters to them.
The roll-out of gluten-free Oreos signifies companies making popular products (some would argue cultural classics) to finally be taking note of an audience asking for recognition.
It is a chance for people on restricted diets to have an occasional period of social normalcy – a chance to feel just like everyone else.
All About Moderation And Inclusion
I am by no means recommending you feed your child or yourself processed, sugary foods regularly. Nor am I a fan of chemicals, additives, or preservatives in our food supply, but I am a supporter of inclusion and addressing mental health as a part of overall care.
Something as small as a cookie can mean a lot and bring a smile to someone on a restricted diet. If gluten-free Oreos make that happen, I am willing to ignore the less than perfect ingredients on occasion.
THIS ARTICLE IS COPYRIGHTED BY AMY BURKHART, MD, RD.
Recent Research On Restricted Diets And Mental Health
Dr. Amy Burkhart is a doctor (M.D.), Registered Dietitian, R.D., and fellowship-trained in integrative medicine. She specializes in treating chronic digestive disorders from an integrative/functional medicine perspective.