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Gluten Free Trends

April 15, 2014
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By Beth Hillson

Here’s something that caught my eye.  I have a feeling it’s part of an ongoing theme.  According to new research from Mintel Menu Insights reported in a fastcasual.com article, the use of “organic” on restaurant menus has declined by 28 percent from 2010 to 2013 while gluten-free instances are appearing more frequently on restaurant menus, posting a 200-percent increase between the end of 2010 and 2013, and accounting for 40 percent of the total growth in ingredient nutritional claims on the menu during the same time period.

We are all hearing about the huge increase in the number of people embracing the gluten-free diet – - at least part of the time.  Many of these folks are choosing the gluten-free regimen for reasons that are not based on a medical diagnosis.  Who is to say that this gluten free trend will not decline just like the organics trend?

On the other hand, many of you are here out of medical necessity.  You are celiac or have gluten sensitivity.  The gluten-free diet is not something you choose.  For the most part, this gluten-free trend has brought more choices to supermarket shelves, more options to restaurant menus, and given us amazing recipes and information.

But it’s not without pitfalls, too.  When we eat out, the server is apt to ask how seriously gluten free we are.  Well-meaning, but it makes me wonder if we are all on the same gluten-free page.  Thankfully, gluten free label standards are coming in August and that will help level the playing field.  Nevertheless, not everyone gets the fact that a little gluten can jeopardize our health.  We still need to be cautious and NEVER ASSUME.

I love the slogan paraphrased from a Celiac Disease Foundation newsletter:  We were here before gluten-free became a trend and we’ll be here long after people have moved on to another good trend.  It reminds me of companies like Glutino and Udi’s Gluten Free that have always been committed to the highest standard of gluten free.  They were here to support us before this was trendy stuff.  And they will be here for us when the gluten-free trend begins to slow.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the fact that gluten free is in the limelight nearly every day.  But I’m also recalling the days when gluten free was not a buzz word and I wonder where this gluten frenzy will end up.  What do you think?  Has the increase in popularity helped you manage your diet?  Do you think this trend is  here to stay?