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Gluten-free food fad is healthier alternative



Published: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 23:02

The Internet, coupled with high-speed communication has made great strides in many areas in the last 10 to 15 years. Information availability on literally any topic that you can imagine is on the rise and a lot of this affects the way we live today.

One thing that I have personally observed the evolution of in the last six-to-seven years is the “gluten-free fad,” which is becoming more and more common everywhere you look. Now, I try to use the term “fad” loosely, because most people who follow a gluten-free diet do so out of necessity. Ironically, however, without gluten-free fad diets becoming popular in Hollywood, some opportunities may not be available right now for those who suffer from a gluten allergy.

An allergic reaction to gluten is known as Celiac disease, which basically causes abdominal problems if gluten products are consumed. Celiac disease is commonly linked to genetics and is not necessarily present from birth. In other words, a person can develop the intolerance over time. There is still no known cure or preventative for a gluten allergenic person. This means that the only way to avoid being sick is to avoid gluten altogether.

Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from mainly wheat, barely, and rye. To avoid eating any gluten foods you have to stay very vigilant with your diet. Bread is out of the question, as well as anything made or coated in flower. Most sauces, seasonings and marinades also contain gluten, so avoiding it may be harder than it seems.

Luckily many restaurants have started preparing gluten-free and allergy menus for customers who have to avoid certain things. I have first-hand experience with this because my friend Chase is gluten-intolerant. He has been on a gluten-free diet for five years.

He told me that over half of the restaurants in our area have specific allergy menus now, and that number has been rising in recent years. Also, nearly all of the chain sit-down restaurants include a section on their menu which excludes gluten. The restaurants are beginning to take notice as more and more people are diagnosed with and educated about Celiac disease.

The labeling and advertisements for products in grocery stores are also shifting in the direction to make people more aware of the inclusion of gluten and other allergens. I think it is a very good thing that society and corporations alike are becoming more conscious and aware of Celiac disease.

Online restaurant review websites are another tool that has sparked interest in a lot of people who suffer from the disease. Sites like Urban Spoon allow you to look up menus, experiences, and read reviews before you even set foot inside a restaurant. These reviews can be a good way to scout out your evening meal, gluten-intolerant or not.

As I mentioned before, the Internet and high-speed communication have greatly simplified information sharing, and have made it easier to control the way we live. More and more people each day are becoming interested about the ingredients of the foods we eat. With the involvement and collaboration of consumers and suppliers alike, we seem to be headed in a good direction as far as food preparation and dieting is concerned.

Tristan Smith can be contacted at

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