Gluten-Free as a BUZZ Word?

The other day, I went into Aldi’s for the first time. The first thing I saw when I walked in was a huge display of potatoes… with “gluten-free” written all over the box. What?!

Is gluten-free a buzz word?

How many times have you been to a restaurant and seen gluten-free labeled on the menu? How many times has it made you excited and relieved, to have options and some level of clarity on what you can eat… only to read further, and realize that the menu items listed “gluten-free” are most definitely not gluten-free. I’ve seen everything from soy sauce and teriyaki listed as an ingredient on a menu item being considered “gluten-free.” I’ve been served soy sauce with a gluten-free appetizer, and I’ve received a normal hamburger buns after explicitly explaining my celiac disease to a restaurant. After the food is served, it’s put on us to make sure we’re eating something safe - and I’m thankful when I’m served gluten I can see, rather than it being hidden in a place I won’t see.

However, there’s a buzz around the name and the label, because there’s a fad diet connected to a gluten-free lifestyle. Vegetables are being labeled gluten-free, and things that aren’t gluten-free are being called gluten-free. 

For every few people who eat gluten-free by choice and won’t be harmed by false labels, there is someone with celiac disease who is going to be sick due to misinformation. It’s hard to know if there’s an education issue (what is gluten?), or if people are ignorant to the health conditions connected to gluten.

If a restaurant is going to offer gluten-free food, they need to offer gluten-free food. If a restaurant is going to offer gluten-free meals, make them fully gluten-free, and safe for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerances.

Too often, restaurants overuse the little GF logo. I love to see growing awareness and more options, but with it comes problems. It’s not taken as seriously. But, if your restaurant can’t safely serve celiacs, please be honest with that information. It’s better for our health to eat only at places that are able to safely serve us, and it’s better to be honest with your customers than to over-commit and end up with a customer getting sick due to misinformation or overzealous menu labeling.

With celiac disease, it’s so hard to find good, reliable restaurants that serve safe gluten-free food. If you offer it and offer it honestly, you will gain reviews and a following between Find Me Gluten-Free, word of mouth, and various gluten-free forums. 

What bad experiences have you had with restaurants falsely identifying food as gluten-free?

Get busy living or get busy dying.
— Stephen King