Fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with what was then thought to be a rare auto-immune disease. Weighing in at a slight 100 pounds at 5 feet 7 inches, I was a knobby legged teenager suffering from debilitating migraines and stomach pains that left my belly so bloated it was actually hard to breathe. My parents suspected that I had the same genetic disorder as my dad and after a series of tests it was confirmed; Celiac Sprue. The one known cure to Celiac Disease is a strict gluten free diet, which in 1999 was no easy task.
Fast forward to 2010 when books like Wheat Belly and Grain Brain paved the way for one of the largest food crazes in modern history. Bam, gluten free went mainstream. While the small segment of our population who actually need to follow a gluten free diet have greatly benefited from the trend--increased awareness, informed labeling, cheaper prices, better taste, more accessibility--there are a lot of situations where the bandwagoners actually make it harder for us to function out in the world.
A few weeks ago I dined at The Rookery in Robbinsdale. As the server was sharing specials and some menu highlights, I sheepishly asked about what was, or could be made, gluten free. Then something a-typical happened. The server asked me if I was a Celiac or a gluten avoider. Upon stating my Celiac-ness he was relieved and confidently stated that he could make any item on the menu gluten free for me. Why wouldn't they do the same for other gluten free patrons? They used to, then too many times a gluten free claimant was seen munching on bread, ordering the very gluten-full dessert, or taking a bite of their dinner companion's pasta.
You can hear them say, "I'm bad sometimes!" "I just can't resist." "It's only a bite." I don't have the luxury to take just a bite. Or succumb to the temptation. I cannot be bad and it's frustrating as hell to watch someone who treats a "gluten free" diet like a badge of healthiness but still has the freedom to pick and choose when gluten is okay. And I bet my server and the chefs at The Rookery are sick of making every effort to provide a safely prepared and delicious gluten free dish only to see the customer nibble on a forkful of gluten.
I should say that I am an advocate for doing what is best for your body. So if that means eating gluten free, good for you. This Celiac just asks that you go into it fully informed. Don't, for the love of gluten, do it because you think you'll lose weight. Don't jump on the bandwagon if you don't need to; it does a major disservice to those who have no choice in the matter.