Gluten-Free Diets Have Swallowed America Whole

Published On 11/10/2015 Published On 11/10/2015

No matter how little you care about weight loss trends and health fads, it's increasingly difficult -- if not impossible -- to avoid the gluten-free diet craze that's taken over America. Some people have Celiac disease, and that's a legitimate health concern. But grocery stores now have gluten-free sections, pizza and pasta restaurants -- of all places -- have gluten-free menu items, and chances are someone you know swears by their gluten-free lifestyle -- not that there's anything wrong with that. Basically, we've been living in a gluten-free America for years now, whether you like it or not, and it's not because everyone suddenly got diagnosed as being gluten-intolerant.

And thanks to a report by Vox, Google created an interactive map that captures the proliferation of gluten-free diets in America over the past few years. Specifically, the map displays the most searched diets in every metropolitan area across the country for each year from the last decade. 


As you can see, gluten free diets have dominated Google searches this year in much of the nation. However, interest in vegan diets has held strong in several big metropolitan areas like New York and areas on the West Coast. Meanwhile, the paleo diet appears to be big in Texas, and folks in the Deep South are clinging to the low-carb diet. However, it doesn't look like there's data on gluten-free vegan diets, thankfully. 


Based on the maps, it looks like gluten-free diets exploded in 2009, eating into searches about vegan and low-carb diets. Vox points to a number of factors, such as celebrity diet books, that made gluten free go viral. 


Unsurprisingly, the methods by which people tortured themselves in the name of health were vastly different 10 years ago than they are today. In fact, the gluten-free diet is nowhere to be seen in top Google searches (that doesn't happen until 2006). Instead, people were more interested in eating organically, low carb diets, and the Atkins diet. Oh, and does the South Beach Diet ring a bell? That was huge in 2005, likely thanks to your mom, or a neighbor who swore by it, then subsequently gained all the weight back and stopped talking about it.

This is all to say that gluten-free eating habits continue to dominate in terms of America's interest in diets. But luckily, it doesn't seem like the delicious gluten-filled pizza and pasta we know and love are going anywhere anytime soon. Well, at least we hope not. 

h/t Vox

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and is currently on the Pizza-Chinese Food-Repeat Diet. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.



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