Serving celiac disease needs
Beckee Moreland’s one wish is that more restaurateurs understood the seriousness of celiac disease. “A lot of people think it’s a trendy diet for weight loss,” said the director of Gluten Free Industry Initiatives at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA). “They don’t understand it’s an autoimmune disease wherein gluten causes damage to the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Ordering gluten-free food is not a choice for people with celiac,” she continued. “A gluten-free diet is the only treatment.”
Approximately 1 percent of Americans has celiac disease and up to 8 percent of the population is gluten sensitive. “Gluten sensitivity has recently been labeled a medical condition,” says Karen Broussard, founder of the Gluten Free Travel Site, a website featuring public reviews of restaurants with gluten-free dining options. “That means you have at least 25 million people in the U.S. alone who require a gluten-free diet for medical reasons. It doesn’t even include the growing part of the population that has chosen to follow a gluten-free diet.”
Gluten-free food has been one of the top trends in the restaurant industry over the past few years. While only a handful of restaurants offered gluten-free options five years ago, today it’s become much easier to find restaurants with such options. The problem is, not all restaurateurs know how to safely create a gluten-free menu.