Gluten free, gluten free, gluten free everywhere.
Restaurants, cafes, bakeries and take away establishments have gluten free options. There are new gluten free products, fresh foods, even gluten free cosmetics and dog food available now!
Great for people (and their pets) who follow a gluten free diet.
But somehow along the way we forgot this….
A gluten free diet is used to treat coeliac disease.
-(A proper gluten free diet that is).
Today somebody asked a question that should be a standard query on a ‘gluten free’ social media group. She asked for recommedations of restaurants that can cater for a gluten free diet and which are aware of cross contamination issues. Anybody with coeliac disease would know why this is important. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition that is triggered off when even a minute amount of gluten is ingested. As I have previously stated, for a person with coeliac disease it is not enough to have a burger without the bun, or a salad with the croutons removed. Yes, even crumbs can make us ill.
In short the replies to this lady’s query are summarised below (in my own words):
1. It is easy to eat gluten free. Gluten free foods can be ordered anywhere by ordering simple foods like vegetables, salads, and meat with sauces that are not thickened. Any steakhouse is great because they serve meat and vegetables.
2. Obviously you wouldn’t order pasta or pizza.
Well obviously…thanks for pointing that out.
3. If you are really that sensitive I would not suggest taking the risk of eating outdoors. Prepare your own little snack to save all possible discomfort.
Well, newsflash ladies and gentlemen. All people with coeliac disease are sensitive to gluten. It is a serious condition in which the body attacks itself when gluten is ingested. Even people who don’t have outward symptoms do get intestinal changes with the ingestion of gluten. It is a myth that some people with coeliac disease can tolerate gluten.
So this is what I perceive as strange. A gluten free diet was developed as a treatment for coeliac disease. Click here to read about my post about the history of coeliac disease. Recently, more and more people getting diagnosed with non coeliac gluten sensitivity. However, with the ever increasing popularity of ‘gluten free’, this diet has shifted from being a medical treatment to a lifestyle choice. And this is where the problem for coeliacs lies. Although people with gluten sensitivity need to follow a gluten free diet to prevent nasty symptoms, for people who follow the diet because it is trendy, to lose weight or to feel a little less bloated it is a choice. A little bit of gluten won’t hurt. Having a steak that is accompanied with fries that were contaminated in oil that contains batter will not harm them. Being served with a salad with croutons is not a major issue. They can just remove them. Having a slice of gluten free cake that was cut with the same knife used on a gluten filled cake is no big deal. Actually, they might fancy a beer after their meal. But for us, it could spell loss of function for a few hours or days. Repeated exposure to gluten will increase our risk of developing osteoporisis, anaemia and vitamin deficiencies, fertility problems, neurological problems, and even cancer amongst other things.
When did we suddenly start to get left out of the equation? We are not fussy because we expect an eatery that claims to cater for a gluten free diet to do just what they claim.
People must understand this. There is no half way. Gluten free must be free from gluten. Free from contamination with gluten. If it isn’t, it is simply not gluten free.
People with coeliac disease have the right to enjoy their lives just like everybody else. We do not expect establishments to cater for our complex diet. If they choose not to it is fine. But when they do make a gluten free claim, we have the right to dine out without getting poisoned. And we have the right to be treated with respect and not be labelled fastidious just because we expect to be able to dine out in safety.
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/ammichaels/10653899143/”>cheeseslave</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/stratman2/5074622006/”>stratman² (2 many pix!)</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>