Gluten Free is NOT a Fad

by Jordanna Palmer, age 14
Gluten Free is NOT a Fad Jordanna is matriculating to Eleanor Roosevelt High School this fall. She enjoys hip hop dance, baking, cooking and reading.

“The standards for a restaurant to say that they serve gluten-free should be stricter so that it is safe for people with celiac or an allergy to gluten can eat there safely.”

The gluten-free community has been expanding rapidly. Celiac, allergies to gluten, and gluten sensitivities are becoming more apparent all around the world.  However, there are some issues lately regarding how careful restaurants must be when they claim to serve gluten-free. Cross-contamination is one of the easiest ways to inadvertently ingest gluten. When a restaurant claims that it serves gluten-free food, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is safe for someone with an allergy to gluten or celiac to eat there. The food that they serve may have originally been gluten-free; however, if one of the chefs were to have used a knife that had been used on something with gluten to cut something gluten-free, there is a chance that the customer could get glutened (ingest gluten). The standards for a restaurant to say that they serve gluten-free should be stricter so that it is safe for people with celiac or an allergy to gluten can eat there safely.

Gluten is a protein that acts like a glue in different foods. Unfortunately, there are some people who are convinced that it is very unhealthy and that if it is cut out of one’s diet, it will be beneficial. They are making life tough for people with celiac and gluten allergies. Miley Cyrus, for example, tweeted, “It’s not about weight it’s about health. Gluten is crapppp [sic] anyway!” Gluten is not bad for you. According to Celiac.org, “Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (durum, emmer, spelt, farina, farro, KAMUT® khorasan wheat, and einkorn), rye, barley, and triticale. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together.” Gluten is not the thing to avoid. It is the foods that it is in. Some of the foods that have gluten in them are not necessarily the healthiest for you such as bread, pasta, and pastries. However, gluten-free bread, pasta, and pastries can easily be just as bad for you as ones with gluten. If someone is looking to lose weight, a gluten-free diet is not the way.

Being gluten-free has dangerously become a fad which makes it hard for people who are completely gluten-free to eat at restaurants safely. The people going around saying that eating gluten-free is a great way to lose weight are giving restaurants the idea that they do not have to make the gluten-free options completely safe for people with serious food restrictions. This is because those people do not actually need a gluten-free diet for health reasons. The restaurants do not have the same pressure to keep their kitchen clean and cross-contamination free. If a crumb of bread accidentally ends up in the salad of someone on a gluten-free diet to lose weight, they will not be affected. However, for people with the food restriction, they could have very bad reactions that can even lead to anaphylaxis.

This problem needs to be solved. People with a gluten-free diet need to have options and they should be able to trust the restaurants that say they can serve gluten-free. If a restaurant says that it has gluten-free options, they should be safe for people with celiac.

Albeit this is a large problem in the food industry, there are many ways we can solve this issue. For instance, a gluten-free safety assessment can be added to the typical health rating for restaurants that serve GF (gluten-free). Another example is confirming that the staff is well educated and the kitchen is well equipped to prepare gluten-free meals safely if they offer them. This will make it easier for the staff because they will feel more comfortable confirming that their food is safe and it will make the customers feel better trusting the restaurant. Lastly, we can solve this by discouraging gluten-free dieting for weight loss. By educating people and making health assessments, eating out with a gluten-free diet will become a much easier and safer experience.

1 Comment

  • Sylvie Koenigsberg says:

    Wow. I have celiac, and I know exactly how hard it is to keep to a gluten free diet. It’s really nice to read something that echoes exactly how I feel. Do you have celiac? If you want, you can email me back at sylvie.koenigsberg@writopialab.org.
    A great gluten-free restaurant that really does stick to keeping everything safe and gluten free is Risotteria in Greenwich Village, so I would recommend that to anyone who has celiac.

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