Introduction to Gluten
Being gluten free is usually because of an intolerance which is commonly confused for an allergy with the difference being that intolerance usually involves the attacking of the lining in the intestines and stomach. Celiac disease is intolerance that attacks the intestines and could render the body useless in digesting whereas gluten sensitivity is an intolerance with side effects but not attack on intestines.
Gluten is a protein that is found in barley, rye, wheats, and most oats and can create a reaction in the body that creates a range of issues which can be as minimal as stomach aches to severe damaging of the intestines common. Avoiding gluten is important for those that experience these side effects.
In 2016, being gluten free is more common than it was even 2 years ago. Although the Bay Area has a large amount of variety in their gluten free offerings, not everyone has followed suit. In the United States, gluten free is becoming more and more common, many menus have a notation that lets you know if something is gluten free or they separate menu altogether.
About 4 years ago my aunt and her husband went to a restaurant in Sonoma County, she went to explain to the waitress that she was gluten free and inquired about a gluten free option or menu. The waitress excitedly explained that she was also gluten free and that the restaurant had just started making a gluten-free waffle. They had a conversation my aunt had told her that she had Celiac’s disease and she was excited that she could eat a waffle at a restaurant.
It seemed to look like a regular waffle, because it was, my aunt had eaten about four bites before her husband noticed it looked too similar to a regular waffle and inquired with the waitress. Her response “Yeah, it’s regular, gluten-free waffles are extra charge.” The waitress who was gluten free for a diet, had no idea people had actual allergies to gluten.
My aunt and uncle ran out of the restaurant before she got sick there. Being gluten free was so unknown both parties assumed they were gluten free for the same reason, which was not the case. The change to menus and awareness has been great, but there are still many (some who work in the food industry) who don’t know what gluten free is or think it is a passing trend.