Treatment Guide

Are the Trendies Giving Gluten-Free a Bad Name?

gluten free college cafeteriaWe all know how “gluten-free” is a buzz word now. It seems it is easier than ever to find “gluten-free” labeled packaging at the local grocery store chain. Restaurants are labeling more food “gf” to try and attract more customers. But is this helping us? Or is it making more people just roll their eyes?

I get so excited when I see places near me offering “gluten-free” donuts, or “gluten-free” fries, or “gluten-free” pizza, and when anything on their menu is specifically labeled gluten-free. It gets me giddy with excitement, even if I wouldn’t normally eat a donut, or fries. I like to know if I want them, I can have them. But then when it comes down to it, and I am at the restaurant and I ask if their menu items are really gluten-free, and fried in a dedicated fryer, I get a response that is more and more common lately: “No, we do not use a dedicated fryer. Our gluten-free items are not appropriate for people who must be gluten-free, or who have celiac.” I want to say a big…What the F*&k!!??? Seriously??????!!!!

Yes, you heard that correctly…I am told, they are not for people who actually *need* to be gluten-free. Well, wow. So, basically, these places are printing up these menus, putting efforts into social media and marketing for those that are gluten-free by choice, not those of us who are gluten-free because it is medically necessary. And apparently, these restaurant owners don’t mind. So, when I go to a restaurant now and see the lovely “gf” or whatever symbol they are using to denote a dish is gluten-free, do I believe it?

I mean really, people who are gluten-free because it is the “in” thing, because they want to stay away from carbs….are they the ones who are really ordering donuts and fries?? I can’t imagine someone who is gluten-free because it is trendy eating food like this. They would be ordering a salad, and grilled fish….gluten-free, maybe, but not ordering some item using replacement flours.

And because of so many people wanting to eat gluten-free, when I am ordering at a restaurant, how do I know people will take me seriously when I say I need to eat gluten-free. Maybe they will roll their eyes and think I am like all the other people doing it for fun. Now, I feel I must say I have an allergy, so it is taken seriously. Do servers need to think we will go into shock when ingesting gluten to be taken seriously, and that we are not just following some fad because it is fashionable?

Is it fair that anyone can slap a gluten-free label on their menu?

When you see a menu item labeled as gluten-free, do you feel safe, or do you feel you need to investigate just a little bit more?

Do you think the gluten-free craze it helping to bring awareness, or do you think it is a hinderance on the people who really need to be gluten-free to be healthy?

Author Information: Anne Steib, Atlanta, GA
Anne Steib
Click here to email Anne.

About Anne Steib

Anne Steib loves all things food, from cooking and eating to discovering hidden culinary goodies throughout Chicago. After being diagnosed with Celiac disease, and embracing gluten-free life, she is enjoying food now more than ever! Byline: Anne Steib,, href="url">


  1. I am one of those celiacs who went way too long before hearing of the ailment, got too damaged and became too sensitive to gluten, and too neurologically and endocrinologically affected. I never enter restaurants unless they are totally gluten-free.

    I subscribe to Dr. Rodney Ford’s ideas that 1) gluten is bad for everyone. 2) celiac is primarily a neurological disease. 3) we need to change the language to “gluten zero”.

    So, from my perspective, I still think that 1) any reduction in the use of gluten grains is good. 2) any number of people who discover they can do without gluten grains is good. 3) any number of people who try gluten-free and feel better is good.

    Yes, I know it seems like a hinderance to the majority of celiacs, who are trying to eat out and socialize safely. But I worked in restaurants and know how difficult it is to create a safe environment, and in my opinion it is going to be difficult without a dedicated separate kitchen, and have heard of a case of a restaurant with a separate great kitchen where a celiac was glutened because her order went to the wrong kitchen!

    And how about those researchers at the University of Washington expressing confidence that they can suppress the expression of gluten in wheat by 90%? That’s just bad news for celiacs, in my opinion. Even if they were able to totally eliminate gluten from a strain of wheat, I would not get near it! My doctor says there is a “Pavlov’s dog” effect, such that my immune system is likely to get revved up by any part of wheat.

  2. I agree with everything you say!! I have ran to the exact situations. Or worse gone to a Mexican resturant, who has a GF menu. Only to find out the chips are not GF. Yet the cheese dip, salsa, and guacamole is. Very frustrating! This fad of being GF is hurting people who have celiac & must take eating GF seriously. Worse yet, I’ve worked food service and know first hand that if the customer doesn’t say allergy, they aren’t take seriously.

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