Jimmy Kimmel, What is Gluten & the Message

I guess I disagree with most people’s assessment of the ‘Jimmy Kimmel What is Gluten’ video.  We need to be talking about gluten, let’s open the conversation.  It’s apparent, as Mr. Kimmel pointed out in the video, that many outside the circle of celiac are unfamiliar with the disease or why they are even gluten free.

Yes, he said a couple stupid things, but, I think the ‘big picture’ issue pointed out here is that so many have no idea what the heck GLUTEN is. It is a lot harder to educate people when they have no idea why they need to be educated in the first place.  

This is celiac awareness month and what better way to bring more attention to celiac awareness then Kimmel bringing it up in his bit?!  (add backlash here)  I like seeing gluten in the headlines, we need to see more gluten in the headlines.  With only 15% of people being diagnosed, over 60% of that 15 are women.  I think those numbers of diagnosis should be and can be higher, if we can bring our message to a larger audience.

My friend Jeanne texted me this morning and said:

No joke. My mother just told me her friend (in her 70s & barely leaves her house due to IBS issues), told her last night that she saw Jimmy Kimmel talking about gluten and wondered, with all the talk about it, maybe it would help her. No freaking joke!


Isn’t this why we have Celiac Awareness Month?  To find people like this 70 year old woman sitting in her chair, watching late night television, who rarely uses computers; happening to hear about gluten in a bit Jimmy Kimmel is doing.  How many other people might have been sitting there watching that thinking, hmm, I wonder…  And I know when I wonder about something I’ll ask someone or jump on google. 

So, lets jump on Google and see what we see when we type in, What is Gluten?


The first is a basic definition, the second is from LiveScience, which gives a pretty sad explanation and third, you have LA Times reporting on the “Kimmel video’.  After that, you have slew of great information about, what gluten is.  I bet those people interviewed on the video went home and did a little more research; hopefully now they’ll be able to pass on GF information with a bit more authority.

Jokes are jokes, they aren’t always funny; they can be disrespectful, racist, and downright mean.  But it is also about the intent and the intent here wasn’t to offend. Like on Saturday Night Live when they imitate someone; we laugh, think its funny, but it also rarely relates to us directly.  

The more people I go out and talk to or meet at health fairs, on the street; they really don’t know much about gluten or that it can make people sick.  They’ve heard about gluten free, read somewhere it might be healthier, most though, haven’t heard of Celiac Disease.  Puts being in that 3% population range into perspective. Even more perspective is, there are 2 million CD people out of 314 million people and gluten free companies made 10.5 billion last year.

According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, “The celiac disease diagnosis rate may reach 50-60% by 2019, thanks to efforts to raise public awareness of celiac disease.” 5 years seems like a really long time if you’re sick, suffering, and undiagnosed; thank god I’m part of that 15% already.

A fellow twitterer wrote, “Any negative press can be dangerous. People remember the joke, not the danger.”  The problem with that is, people aren’t aware of the danger.  We do, the 15%, because we live with it everyday and we all have our individual, crazy stories.  But that still leaves 75% going through the hell we all went through for so long. I think this was great press and the benefits here far outweigh the negatives.    

Change starts one person at a time.






About Kirsten Berman GlutenFreeGal

GlutenFreeGal living with Celiac Disease and Changing the American Food System
one person at a time


  1. Suzy Johnson says:

    Yeah, I disagree with you. This was not good press. He did nothing to educate the public and in fact, mislead by suggesting that you can’t eat pizza if you eat GF. He said celiacs annoy him. This clip going viral just gave everyone else the excuse to continue trivializing it because that’s what the video does. If you asked these same people what’s a fat? protein? carb? calorie? they likely could not accurately explain those things either. We are a culture that knows very little about nutrition in general and his monologue plus the video basically gave all the naysayers license to continue eating bad processed food without worry, while laughing at those who eat gluten free.


    • Yes but it’s not about him. It’s not his job to educate that is our job, he’s a comedian, he makes jokes. And people are already trivializing it because there are 314 million of them and 2 million of us. And in the last few years we have come A LONG WAY, more than ever before. The people that are laughing don’t even know what they’re laughing at an might even be sick themselves. But there were definitely people who educated themselves more because of this and we as a community realized how many more out there need to be educated. And the numbers of people looking up, what is gluten, because of this video has grown. Isn’t that what we want? We can’t change what America thinks overnight but if a funny bit can make them think and research, then that’s a positive for me.


    • The video didn’t give naysayers anymore than they already had as ammunition. I do agree that we are a processed nation & even Celiac’s aren’t eating well nutritionally. That’s why it’s about the big picture.


  2. I agree this wasn’t a bad thing and people take things way to personal. Hearing the gluten buzzword makes people think. There is a mass amount of info out there on gluten and most isn’t making fun of it. The people who are ready to hear it will do something about it, the people who aren’t won’t, no matter how much you tell them what gluten can do to their body.


  3. Happy Celiac Month to everyone, gluten-free or not!.

    Many people still don’t know the difference between gluten-sensitive and Celiac Disease. Non-Celiac Disease-Gluten-Sensitive, or NCDGS, is not a disease.

    Jimmy Kimmel might be sorry to hear i have never heard of him. I enjoy my online sessions about gluten and learn a lot about gluten. I think TV is mostly processed info and often sensationalistic, inaccurate, and toxic!


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