Vanessa Feltz has been chastised for remarks she made concerning the impact of gluten consumption on persons with celiac disease, with her words branded ‘irresponsible’.
The TV personality appeared on Monday’s broadcast of This Morning alongside co-hosts Craig Doyle and Josie Gibson, where she gave advise for callers’ problems.
One caller, Alison, said she was ‘forced to have a gluten-free Christmas’ because her mother-in-law wanted the dinner be gluten-free to accommodate one individual who requires a gluten-free diet.
Vanessa, 61, said that Alison has a 15-year-old child ‘who’s a bit of a finicky eater’ while explaining the person’s predicament.
‘When Alison said, “Can we bring our own food then? Can we bring food in a snack box?” She said, “No.” So she’s treating coeliac disease as if it’s a kind of fatal, potentially fatal peanut allergy and that they can’t have anything with gluten in the house, which is completely unreasonable,’ she said.
‘That is not reasonable Alison at all. The thing is though, if you say to her, “Look, he can have gluten-free, we don’t have to, it’s not catching.” What will she say? How will she respond?’
The caller Alison replied: ‘She’ll tell me that I’m ignorant to the facts and tell me to read up on it.’
Vanessa then continued, stating: ‘But you’re not and she’s wrong, I mean she’s just unequivocally wrong about that. Completely wrong.’
The Celebs Go Dating star then said that while she thinks the caller is ‘100% right’, when she weighed up the situation in her head, she believes ‘on balance you’re pretty much going to have to go with it’ to keep the peace in the family.
‘Have a snack on the way there, bring something to eat in the car on the way home, don’t stay too long, but don’t fall out with your mother-in-law over a bit of gluten, that’s what I think. Or the lack of gluten,’ she added.
Josie joined in at this point to point us that those with celiac disease must also be cautious of gluten cross-contamination.
What is coeliac disease?
Coeliac disease is a ‘condition where your immune system attacks your own tissues when you eat gluten’, the NHS explains, which causes damage to the gut.
Gluten is found in three types of cereal – wheat, barley and rye – and is therefore found in foods including pasta, cereals and most breads.
Symptoms of coeliac disease can include stomach ache, flatulence, constipation and diarrhoea.
When a person has coeliac disease, their immune system ‘mistakes substances found inside gluten as a threat to the body and attacks them’, which damages the surface of the small bowel and ‘disrupts the body’s ability to take in nutrients from food’.
Vanessa then answered: ‘But they don’t have to have any cross-contamination, especially if they bring their own food from home and her 15-year-old has what he actually likes which he brings in the snackbox, would be perfectly fine.
‘But I just think is it worth falling out with her, digging your heels in, making a big mountain out of it when it’s only one day, pretty much one meal?’
Several This Morning viewers have voiced their outrage at Vanessa’s words, with many emphasising the extremely severe impact that gluten consumption can have on persons with celiac disease.
‘Are #ThisMorning serious? Gluten can make some people so so ill, why is your guest saying it’s okay to ignore others health requests?’ one person wrote on X.
‘I think Vanessa is unfortunately ignorant of the facts regarding food preparation etc for sufferers of coeliac disease. It’s not just about the person eating gluten free food!’ someone else said.
Are #ThisMorning serious? Gluten can make some people so so ill, why is your guest saying it’s okay to ignore others health requests?
— EDM🌞🏳️🌈 (@EllieDaisy11) December 18, 2023
Coeliac disease is really bad. And gluten free food isn't even that bad 🤦🏻♀️#thismorning
— Charley (@CharlieG1908) December 18, 2023
#ThisMorning I make gluten and dairy free food regularly for allergy reasons and very rarely, if ever, does anyone even notice! And loads of 'normal' foods suitable for everyone!
— Louise Naylor (@LouNaylor) December 18, 2023
A swift apology needed for this I think. It is Vanessa Phelps who is ignorant and needs to read up on coeliac disease which is a very serious condition otherwise why would us coeliacs have to avoid gluten for the rest of our lives. 😡
— Judith Evans🏴 (@JudithEvan72639) December 18, 2023
@thismorning I’m actually furious Vanessa felt really needs to do a homework on coeliac disease. No it’s not an nut allergy but we can come seriously ill and it’s not always what you see on the outside she made it sound just a bit a gluten
— steph norris (@norrissteph) December 18, 2023
Another stated: ‘A swift apology needed for this I think. It is Vanessa [Feltz] who is ignorant and needs to read up on coeliac disease which is a very serious condition otherwise why would us coeliacs have to avoid gluten for the rest of our lives. 😡.’
One person said that it was ‘awful to see coeliac disease dismissed so casually’ by Vanessa, as they stressed that it’s a ‘serious chronic condition that people struggle with every day’ and not a ‘fad’ or a ‘choice’.
One viewer said it was ‘disgusting to have someone who has no knowledge on coeliac disease comment on a mainstream programme’, as they decried her for ‘spreading more misinformation’.
Someone else said that it was ‘so unbelievably irresponsible to air.
This Morning airs weekdays from 10am on ITV.