You only have to take one look around the restaurants and shops to see that the Gluten Free trend is one that is here to stay. With millions of people around the world ditching the gluten for more stomach friendly alternatives and adopting this Free From lifestyle that has emerged over the last few years. With the majority of this percentage doing so not because they are allergic to it, but because it makes them feel better when they do so.
This acceptance can be seen reflected in many different high street supermarkets and chain restaurants where gluten free alternative inclusions in their menus and other boutique establishments offering an entire free-from menu for their diners.
So why do thousands of people, myself included still have to deal with disapproving looks from staff members when we enquire about the Gluten Free menu when dining out?
I've been tested for Coeliac Disease which came back as negative, so why do I still identify as one to strangers?
I understand how frustrating it can be for those working within the hospitality industry as an ex chef and waitress, having to deal with special requirements can be a hassle at times, especially during busy periods; with extra care and the potential of more work to ensure no cross-contamination comes into effect. So with the emerging trend and popularity of gluten free diners- be it for a lifestyle choice or medical reasons popping up across the country the extra work for staff can also be seen increasing, along side the annoyance for those creating the work. So for this reason alone and for someone that is completely sick of the frowning faces from a percentage of employees every time I order a dish I lie to staff about having an accepted medical condition to be seen as a normal diner rather than one that 'likes to cause a hassle'.
But why do I do it? After having my gallbladder removed a year ago, my body lost the ability to break down gluten in my body, offering up all the same symptoms as those with an intolerance rather than an allergy. Including extreme stomach pain, bloating, sickness and hot flushes- and while there are currently no medical tests for food intolerances a trial and error then elimination process led to my current diet. While my body may not be allergic to gluten, the aftermath of eating gluten can lead to making me severely poorly alongside many others experiencing the same problems. But it's not just those with intolerances that are following this diet- others can be seen adopting the gluten free trend for healthy-living or dieting reasons rather than medical who may not experience any symptoms at all and just do so as a lifestyle choice. But whatever the reason is for choosing to drop the gluten, I believe that all dietary choices should be accepted and seen as normal rather than annoyance, so that I and many others like me can stop living under a false pretence.
So to all those staff members that have sighed or rolled their eyes when I ask about gluten free alternatives- I would just like to say this to you- you wouldn't question someone about their religious dietary requirements or those with a nut allergy, so please don't do it for those with gluten.