Everyone, I have some news — I think the gluten free fad is fading. I have mixed feelings about the fad waning.
The good news – the gluten free fad is fading. This means everybody and their brother who ate a piece of bread and got bloated will not say they have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease. It means that at a restaurant when we say we need them to be careful, hopefully, they will be careful with our food and not assume we are just following a fad diet. It means that food labeling will be more accurate because manufacturers can’t make more money by slapping a gluten free label on a product because its cool.
The bad news – the gluten free fad is fading and is causing me some concern.
The gluten free fad going away means that gluten free restaurant menus will go away because it isn’t cool. This is bad for us because it is hard enough to eat out now and it will get even more challenging because we won’t know where to even start selecting restaurants. Furthermore, going someplace and saying you have an allergy might be more respected now because they know you are serious.
Food labels are awful but will hopefully improve. The USDA has made strides in forcing companies to label the top 8 allergens in bold on the label to make it easy. Their requirement that only foods below the 20ppm threshold can carry the gluten free label. Those are a great start – but there are FAR too many companies that don’t adhere to the labeling requirements. Normally, it is small companies that don’t understand and are trying to capitalize on the gluten free fad. I think this is where we get bitten a lot. We all know about the General Mills and Cheerios controversy, so I won’t even mention it. So, as a community, we have to remain vigilant in reading labels to keep ourselves safe.
Small specialty bakeries and food manufacturers may go away. Not because their products aren’t good, but the market may shrink to the point that their business dries up. Gluten free products are a million times better today than they were when I was diagnosed over 7 years ago. But they are expensive and honestly, not quite as tasty as their gluten counterparts. Each time I say to my husband, “Honey, have some of this it tastes just like the real gluten stuff.” He takes a bite and tells me no, it isn’t the same and the gluten alternative is better. As people return to a gluten containing diet, the small gluten free market may not be enough to support them. This is not great.
I could be wrong. The market may remain strong or with the advent of some medications, the need to be gluten free could go away forever. Who knows? I certainly don’t. I’m just blabbering on about what I see in the world.
Honestly, I’m almost grateful for the gluten free fad. I was diagnosed just as the fad hit. When I told a friend I was just diagnosed with Celiac he said, “My, how fashionable.” The fad caused the need to change food labels. The fad made people aware of Celiac disease so I didn’t have to explain it every time I went out. The fad also introduced the idea of gluten intolerance – which needs its own set of diagnostic criteria. The fad also made it more dangerous for us because many people stopped taking the need to be gluten free so seriously. The fad made many more gluten free products available in the marketplace. But everything then got a gluten free label – even bags of apples.
So, I’m not sure if I’m happy the fad is fading. I just hope the need to be gluten free goes away too. 😉