The Friday Report: Into thin air |

The Friday Report: Into thin air

Jon de Vos / The Friday Report
Fraser, CO Colorado

A guy ordered, “Two eggs, wheat toast and, uh, half-decaf coffee, please, I’m cutting back on caffeine.”

“No problem-o,” the waitress scribbled on her pad and headed for the kitchen.

A few minutes later, she was standing by my table, pen poised. I said, “I’ll have three buttermilk pancakes and regular coffee, thank you.” Before she finished writing, I added, “Oh, and would you make those pancakes half-gluten, please?”

“No prob … did you say half-gluten?”

“Yeah, I dunno what gluten is, but I’m cutting back on it just to be safe.”

“I know what you mean,” she nodded, “When my husband eats gluten he gets lethargic and hyperactive.”

“Lethargic and hyper … how do those go together?”

“He catnaps while tailgating Hummers on the freeway.”

Lethargy and hyperactivity are but two on the bloated list of symptoms of gluten intolerance, a list that varies from migraines to room-clearing gas attacks. Professional-looking people with white coats claim it also causes weight loss and weight gain, depression, eczema, aching joints, infertility and numbness.

At the heart of the consternation, there is a serious condition called celiac disease. Sufferers who ingest even tiny amounts of gluten become unable to absorb the nutrition from food. Difficult to treat, they risk dying from malnutrition after suffering indescribable (by me) intestinal horrors.

Gluten seems to be bad for you. Otherwise, why would every 3rd food label proudly proclaim to be “gluten-free”? Foods that never had gluten in the first place are jumping on the label lest someone mistake them for the glutinous product on the shelf below.

But the facts are that gluten isn’t bad or harmful to 99 percent of us. It’s simply a protein found most commonly in bread and some grain products. Some people blame gluten for their weight gain but most nutritionists agree that the same results can be achieved by cutting back on breads and pastries.

As a fad diet goes, gluten-free is immensely better than the Tapeworm Diet, popular in the 1950s. It caused numerous cases of meningitis, seizures and dementia. I’ll spare you the details on this diet. Curious? Just Google it.

Elvis embraced the Sleeping Beauty Diet. A doctor kept him zonked out on barbiturates for a week whereupon he woke up extremely refreshed and 10 pounds lighter. Celebs did it a lot in the 1960s.

But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Enter the Breatharians who believe that, once enlightened; a person needs no food or water at all, existing eternally on light and air. The Australian 60 Minutes took a look at a Wales woman who claimed she’d lived 14 years on less than 300 calories per day. Cameras followed her around for a couple of days before her eyes rolled back in her head and she was hospitalized with acute dehydration.

But wait, it gets better! The head Breatharian, Wiley Brooks, explains that you can’t jump right into a Breatharianistic Diet (eating nothing). You must start slow at the Golden Arches. Kid you not. In his blog, he says, “Eat at McDonald’s when ever possible. All McDonald’s are constructed on 5th Dimensional spiritual portals. It is also acceptable to combine 2 quarter-pounders with cheese burgers to make one double-quarter pounder.”

For all of you trying to save the planet one gluten at a time, check out the Reverend Wiley Brooks at

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