Gluten-free: a new trend

ROBERT HUSKEY/ Daily Titan

ROBERT HUSKEY/ Daily Titan

Weight loss, aching joints, exhaustion and headaches are just a few symptoms that could indicate that a person is sensitive to gluten products. According to GlutenFreeNetwork.com, gluten allergies can take several years to detect because of how broad the symptoms are.

Gluten-free awareness and products are on the rise due to the growing amount of gluten-intolerant people.

Food establishments are becoming more accommodating to the requests of gluten allergy sufferers. A variety of restaurants and grocery stores located in Fullerton offer gluten-free items.

Pieology, a well-known pizza eatery near campus, offers its customers the option to have a gluten-free pizza crust. The idea to provide a gluten-free crust came from customers requesting the product.

“I think more and more people are more aware of what is upsetting to their system,” said Colleen Yost, director of training operations for Pieology. “People are really taking care of what they eat.”

The special crust costs a dollar more, but for some customers, it’s worth it. “It’s a nice thing to offer because a lot of people are dealing with that (gluten allergy),” Yost said.

Pieology creates the unique dough in a gluten-free bakery in order to keep it from being mixed with gluten ingredients. The pizzeria also offers to change gloves before preparing the pizza to prevent contamination.

Many customers prefer the gluten-free crust over the regular crust, even if it’s not necessary to their diet. “People who don’t have allergies, they still like the taste of it. A lot of people are like, ‘Wow, that’s great,’” Yost said.

Yost understands the importance of Pieology offering gluten-free products in order to satisfy its customers. “These days, if you’re a pizzeria and you don’t carry gluten-free crust, you’re not going to last,” Yost said.

Another local restaurant that offers gluten-free products is Green Bliss. The cafe’s creations come from local vendors and includes a variety of gluten-free food, including scones, muffins and brownies. Their gluten-free cupcakes are a big hit with customers.

Amber St. Peter, the culinary director for Green Bliss, notices that a lot of Cal State Fullerton students who frequent the cafe request gluten-free items.

“The awareness of being gluten-free and being gluten intolerant and what it means exactly seems to be a growing trend, definitely with the younger community,” St. Peter said. “So the more college people we get, the more we actually see the gluten-free thing come into play.”

St. Peter believes the gluten-free movement will continue to grow. “If you’re gluten intolerant, it’s not the end of the world,” St. Peter said.

St. Peter’s site, FettleVegan.com, offers gluten-free recipes and places to eat.

People with a strong intolerance to gluten products are typically diagnosed with celiac disease. Celiac disease and gluten allergies have similar symptoms, but it’s important for those people diagnosed with celiac disease to stay away from any food that may have even the smallest trace of gluten-containing grains.

A solution for people with celiac disease is to be on a gluten-free diet. Gluten-free dieters avoid foods containing barley, rye, triticale and wheat.

According to Celiac.com, celiac disease affects at least one in 133 people. A few of those people are celebrities, such as television host Elisabeth Hasselbeck and actress Emmy Rossum. These women have brought awareness to celiac disease by openly discussing how they have dealt with the illness.

Not only is gluten-free awareness on the rise because of celebrities and restaurants; physicians and professors are performing gluten-free diet studies.

HyeKyeung Seung, Ph.D, a CSUF communications disorders professor, was a part of a study that investigated if a gluten-free, casein-free diet had an affect on children with autism.

A casein-free diet is very similar to a gluten-free diet because it eliminates foods with gluten proteins.

The clinical trial found that there is no existing evidence that shows a difference in verbal and nonverbal communication between a regular, gluten and casein-free diet. However, this study raises the question if people, especially children, should be on a gluten-free diet—even if it’s not necessary.

Seung thinks children, particularly with autism or any other social disorder, should only be on a gluten-free diet if it is needed.

“It (a gluten-free, casein-free diet) puts such a strain on a family’s social life. It really limits their [dining] out. Also, it limits many children who already have social problems,” Seung said. “Unless there’s a concerning symptom that I should stay away from gluten or casein, I would not implement it.”

A gluten-free diet may not be best for everyone, especially people that don’t have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. According to MayoClinic.com, a gluten-free diet can cause low levels of specific vitamins and nutrients.

It’s important for anyone suffering from a gluten allergy to be examined by a doctor as soon as possible. If left undetected, gluten allergies and celiac disease can lead to damage of the small intestine and abdominal pain, according to MayoClinic.com.

Gluten-free products are becoming more accessible because food establishments and grocery stores are listening to their customers’ needs. Over time, gluten sufferers may know more information about their allergies and have more food options to enjoy.

About Kristen Cervantes

Krissy is finally graduating this semester from Cal State Fullerton. She is majoring in communications/print journalism and is excited to be an editor for the first time after spending two semesters on the Daily Titan staff. When she's not at home chasing her 20-month-old daughter around, she enjoys shopping and going to Disneyland with her husband and family. After graduation, she hopes to land a job with a magazine or newspaper and eventually have a successful career as an editor and columnist.