Going Gluten-FreeOctober 5, 2011

Gluten Free, In Style

It’s difficult to ignore the fact that gluten free is getting trendy. If the gluten-free menus and the understanding nods I get when ordering in urban restaurants haven’t clued me in, I can’t argue with the numbers. Despite the slow economy, sales of gluten-free products in this country have more than doubled over the past six years, with market projections exceeding $1.6 billion by 2015.

Alessio Fasano, MD, medical director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, says that 18 to 20 million Americans are gluten sensitive. (Some would argue with him but let’s assume for the sake of discussion that he’s correct.) Add to that the 3 million celiacs and the 600,000 or so who are wheat-allergic. If I include those of us with true food allergies as well as those with food intolerances, we’ve got a special-diet movement that’s substantial and growing. And that’s not yet counting the people who are gluten free because they’re catching fad fever.

As my adult children often declare, when it comes to keeping up with the latest fashion, I’m not normally “really happening.” To be honest, I’m never happening. So it’s nice to be part of a movement that’s getting popular.

Look at the celebrities who are jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon. Chelsea Clinton, tennis star Novak Djokovic and Elisabeth Hasselbeck are avoiding gluten, to name a few. (I interviewed Hasselbeck, a celiac, for Living Without a few months back and was charmed.) We just did a Q&A (published in Feb/March, our next issue) with actress Leslie Bibb, star of the upcoming TV show Good Christian Belles, about her gluten sensitivity and how she’s adapted to the gluten-free lifestyle. Today I read in Reuters that Oprah Winfrey and Gwyneth Paltrow go gluten free as part of a detox regimen.

It’s nice to be in such stylish company.

The goods news about this popularity is that there are more and more wonderful products out there for us. How great is that? (I've been making homemade gluten-free, dairy-free bread with this new mix—it's Bella Gluten Free, bellaglutenfree.com—that, I swear, makes a multi-grain loaf as good or better than any wheat bread. But I digress...)

True, all this popularity coupled with lack of labeling standards increases the risk that companies may claim their product is gluten free without scrupulously addressing cross contamination. But for now…just for a moment…let me bask in the fact that I’m feeling hip.

Comments (3)

Seriously someone chooses to go g-free for no reason? That has to be the nuttiest thing I have heard. I wouldn't do it if my list of side effects wasn't 3 pages long! Oh and that I feel homicidal when I eat gluten. I am glad that there are so many more things made g-free than when I realized I needed to eat g-free some 12 years ago.

Posted by: DE'DEE B | October 7, 2011 3:20 PM    Report this comment

There is weight gain with gluten-free....it's like with any other diet (what I like to called a life survival change), you need to watch your portion sizes. Ezekiel 4:9 bread is NOT GF! Trader Joe's has a couple flourless breads. My favorite is Udi's Gluten Free Foods - Whole Grain Bread. Trader Joe's does not freeze them, when you get home please put in the frig or freezer. Never leave it out! My daughter and I have to live gf due to being gluten intolerant....We have opt to not go off the diet for at least 3 months to be tested for celiac. The pain and feeling so ill is not worth coming off the diet. What upsets me is going to a restaurant claiming to have a gf menu, the waitstaff has no idea how to serve without cross contamination. When you try to explain why it has to be served without touching gluten items, they look at you like you've spoken a foreign language...Maybe I am!

Posted by: Faye D | October 6, 2011 1:41 PM    Report this comment

I can't seem to find an answer to my question of whether eating GF flours will cause weight gain. I know I gain weight with regular wheat (even whole grain) flours, but I'm afraid to "test" the GF option (although I AM just eating the Ezekiel bread and other flourless breads - Trader Joe's has some great ones!). I don't have gluten issues, just trying to use a variety of grains. Help!

Posted by: Jane B | October 6, 2011 12:04 PM    Report this comment

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