Gluten Avoidance Doesn’t Seem to Be Overly Political

a plate of 4 bagels. The top two appear to be poppyseed, the bottom two appear to be plain.
Image by Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue / CC BY

“Gluten-free? Y’all have a gluten-free option?” His voice carries. And so does his indignation. “I tell you what… it’s those liberals with their namby-pamby gluten shit that are ruining the country.”

I frown. Okay Kyle, I think. Because I bet his name is Kyle. Or Lyle. He looks like a Kyle or a Lyle.

I’m not a gluten-shunner myself much these days. I myself am eating the dough with all the gluten in it. Yes, I am. But I do know others who don’t eat gluten. I know folks who literally have celiac disease. And I know some who consider themselves varying degrees of digestively sensitive to it.

Anyway, it’s not my place to judge, I figure. Like… it doesn’t seem any weirder or wilder than folks who are lactose intolerant.

It is wild to me, however, to see that some American folks really do associate gluten avoidance with being on the political left. (Famously, during his 2016 presidential campaign, Republican senator Ted Cruz decided that gluten-free meals were a sign of political correctness. Well, alrighty then.)

Gluten Avoidance Doesn’t Seem to Be Overly Political

So I was intrigued when I stumbled across a study that asked just that question: Is there some kind of link between gluten aversion and political party? Are only liberals shunning gluten?

The answer, according to a 2019 study, is no. People of all political persuasions can and do shun gluten.

What seems to bind them in common the most powerfully? Being gluten intolerant and/or having celiac disease. Wonder of wonders. People primarily shun gluten because it doesn’t agree with them. Shocking, I know.

Despite an overall lack of a clear, overarching political pattern, here are a few things they did find:

  • Trump supporters had the highest levels of gluten avoidance (WHAT?). They were more likely to shun gluten than folks who found Barack Obama, George W. Bush, or Bill Clinton more favorably (participants were asked to pick one of these political figures that they liked best as part of the study).
  • Extremely liberal respondents were more likely to have celiac disease than others. The researchers state that the link between these two elements is clear but theorize either the genetics of celiac disease have some bearing on political orientation OR that living with celiac disease as a chronic condition tends to predispose a person to developing liberal views (this second scenario seems more likely on the surface).
  • Liberal respondents whose parents were also liberal did have an increase in gluten avoidance beyond the norm.

Wow. That’s a lot to take in.

Well, there you go.

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This post is part of an ongoing Poly Land feature called Psyched for the Weekend, in which I geek out with brief takes about some of my favorite psychological studies and concepts. For the entire series, please see this link.

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Books by Page Turner:

Dealing with Difficult Metamours

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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1 Comment

  1. I do find that somewhat interesting, having a gluten reaction myself (and frequently apologizing because of it). Doing armchair thinking, I’ve always thought it was that it was seen as similar to vegetarian/veganisim (Wasn’t this associated with the left for a few decades?) rather than an allergy.

    For the past 20 or so years, there were a lot of people who were doing it by choice though, which did put it into the “elitist choice” category which many of us who have the allergy have a mixed perception to, since I think it put it into that kind of “Oh you’re one of those people who say they can’t have gluten because you’re think you don’t need to” or “You’re too rich to have gluten, huh?” rather than a “poor you being allergic, let me see if I can at least give you a salad or a burger patty with extra lettuce and no bun”. However, on the up side, the high demand did give rise to a lot of alternatives that we would otherwise not have today.

    With the chronic conditions scenario, I wonder if that that pick up along with other chronic condition sufferers and their leanings since an increased amount of empathy for others who have the condition would make sense.

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