What It Means To Be A Gluten Free Advocate and Why You Should
What is an advocate?
An advocate: pleads a cause for another, defends or maintains a cause, and/or supports or promotes the interests of a cause or a group. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
Why does the gluten free community need more advocates?
Another national chain has jumped on the gluten free bandwagon, but not to for the purpose of helping the gluten free community! They are totally in it for the money! Their gluten free pizza is NOT for those who have celiac or severe gluten intolerance. This means they are simply catering to the gluten free fad dieters and leaving those that the diet was created for out in the cold!
You can see the full article here: Papa Johns Doesn’t Recommend Gluten Free Dieters Eat Its Gluten Free Pizza
This begs the question, then whom was their gluten free diet created for?! As if those with celiac, gluten intolerance, wheat allergies, etc. don’t have enough problems but now national chains are in your face creating menus for a group that has hi-jacked the gluten free diet!!!
Not only that, but on our local gluten free Facebook page people are okay with it?!!!
One person even commented that we are in the minority? How are those whom the gluten free diet was created for in the minority?! WHAT?!
This kind of response makes me feel like we are swimming upstream! It is hard to see this kind of attitude from those who should be advocating for proper gluten free procedures!
“I guess I just don’t expect any business to cater to my weird dietary needs. They are in the business to make money and maintaining a GF environment is costly.”
Weird dietary need? Maybe the gluten free community shouldn’t be referring to their own dietary needs as weird!
Catering to the gf community. . . Isn’t that exactly what they claim to be doing by offering gluten free?
Another person said: “I’m just happy they’re not advertising as something it’s not. There is no realistic way for them to avoid cross contamination. Even if they take every precaution, there is gluten everywhere there. It’s not possible without extensive reno. That they know to warn you says they understand precautions, but that they also know their limits.”
Hold on there! They are advertising having a gluten free pizza! (As far as I know they aren’t disclaiming it as loudly as they are touting that they now offer gluten free pizza.) The part about it not being for those with celiac and those with severe gluten intolerance is in fine print! Oh and if they didn’t want to go through what it takes to offer it safely then they shouldn’t have decided to put gluten free pizza on their menu! This is disingenuous to the gluten free community!
Eating out is always a risk
We know that the only way to make sure we don’t get sick is by always doing our own food at home! However, we need a break, want to socialize, go to events and experience new restaurants, just like everyone else does! This dietary restriction can be very isolating!
Here’s what Chris Rich from the Gluten Intolerance Group had to say about the differences between those who have done gf right and the way Papa John’s has chosen to do gf:
“California Pizza Kitchen has a completely separate area where they handle gluten-free food preparation,” he said. “This includes dedicated gluten-free toppings, pizza cutters and prep stations. Pizza Hut was a little different in that certified gluten-free pizzas are only available in their stores that do not make their own crust on site. This eliminates the airborne flour that is the cross-contamination risk at Papa John’s.”
I believe national chains have a greater responsibility to do things the right way! They are trend setters because they have proven to be successful with their restaurants. Other restaurants will follow suit. Papa John’s is following the mistakes made by Dominos and several others. It is unfortunate for the gluten free community and here is why:
Bad- Gluten Free is a Problem for the Gluten Free Community as a Whole
Family and friends don’t follow or understand the gluten free issues let alone all of the medical issues involved in having a condition that requires a gluten free diet. It takes longer for those who are new to a diagnosis that includes a gluten free diet to get well and find accurate information. Add a bad option for gluten free and those problems compound.
- People do assume that a national chain wouldn’t offer a gluten free option, if it wasn’t safe! (Who thinks of looking for the fine print?)
- People who need to be gluten free but aren’t well educated or new to the diet aren’t aware of all of the issues (I see it all the time! People who will respond to posts about warnings of a product or a place that isn’t safe and will not only state that they have never gotten sick but dig their heels in about how safe it must be! Either, they have gotten lucky or they don’t realize that their symptoms can change or that there can be damage without having any symptoms at all. Being symptom free is NOT good enough to assume that you are unharmed! Damage to the small intestines can happen without having outward symptoms.)
- Pizza bought for a party and the gluten free option turns out to be Papa John’s or Dominos! The person who arranged it things they have done a wonderful thing by providing a gf option for you. If you are aware, you know not to eat it, but what about your gf child or teen? What about those who are new to the diet and haven’t heard all of the controversy? What about the person who you have to tell you can’t eat the expensive food they bought just for you?!
- Makes the gluten free diet appear to be more of a fad. (Again, who reads the fine print?)
- Family, friends and neighbors who think you are over reacting because “Hey, it is gluten free!” or “A little won’t hurt you!”
- Having more and more restaurants decide that less precautions are better than doing it right.
- Still being left out of social situations because the gluten free option isn’t a safe option. (This makes my blood begin to boil!)
What it means to be a gluten free advocate
- This means that you study and fully understand the gluten free diet, its purpose and whom it was created for.
- Be knowledgeable about celiac and gluten intolerance with accurate information!
- Make sure you are getting accurate information. A few great resource are the Gluten Intolerance Group, Gluten Free Watchdog, LLC., Celiac Disease Foundation, and The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center.
- Stand up and speak out when you see products mislabeled gluten free.
- Stand up and speak out when menus are created to be gluten free, but only for those who don’t need to be gluten free!
- Learn about the complications in not following a gluten free diet when it is medically necessary.
- See the bigger picture beyond one incident or one restaurant chain and how it can affect many people in many ways for a long time!
- See the bigger picture to why advocating for gluten free, celiac, and gluten intolerance aren’t a joke but serious needs and conditions.
- Don’t discount the gluten free community who is speaking out about it not being a joke and wanting it to be taken serious and done correctly! (I’m not talking about ridiculous lawsuits.)
- Help educate others with accurate information.
- Leave comments when you visit restaurants on Find Me Gluten Free or other apps and websites you use.
- Help to correct inaccurate information when you hear it.
Why You Should Be A Gluten Free Advocate
- Being gluten free is hard
- It is isolating and having more options opens the world up, again
- More people are needed to spread awareness and educate the masses.
- Awareness and education brings understanding
- Too many people think the gluten free diet is a fad or even worse. . . a joke
- Because it is heartbreaking for you or your child to have to miss out on events because of food!
- If you don’t stand up, who will?
In the comments, tell us what you do to advocate for celiac, gluten intolerance, a related disease that requires eating gluten free or the gluten free diet.