Restaurants Recognizing Gluten-Free Needs; Tears of Joy

This fall will mark my second year of gluten intolerance. And I am officially FED UP. All this time I’ve been telling myself it’s no big deal, and it sure keeps my carb intake down.

But suddenly I realize that I am TIRED of avoiding each and every form of normal baked goods, tired of mealy pasta and gritty rice crackers, and tired of explaining to friends and family why the wheat allergy is in many ways worse than the diabetes. Oh, but it’s true! As a diabetic, I could essentially still eat anything, as long as I planned and dosed for it properly. But having a permanent gluten intolerance problem (i.e. Celiac disease) makes for a lifetime of struggle and compromise.

So I wasn’t the only one shedding tears of joy over the fact that some major restaurant chains seem to finally be catching on to the ca. 3 million people in the US with this problem…

Gfkiss_1The LA Times recently reported that a growing number of eateries are offering gluten-free (GF) menus, apparently including the Olive Garden, PF Changs, Legal Sea Foods on the East Coast and the Outback Steakhouse — which has a location right here near me! Hoorah!

However, I checked this out a little and discovered that it is not quite as exciting as it sounds: for the most part, the menus simply tag the items that are by nature gluten-free (fish dishes, salads, risotto) and then offer tips like “avoid the bread” (duh!) or “ask for no croutons.”

This is definitely not the same as actually offering special GF foods (God, how I was hoping to actually munch on a warm bread stick in a restaurant). But it’s still pretty great to have each “safe” menu item clearly marked, and to know that the servers will have some idea of what you’re talking about when you start asking pesky questions and making special requests.

The LA Times article also mentions a guy named Kevin Seplowitz, a former computer security expert who was diagnosed with celiac disease almost four years ago. He went on to develop the world’s first commercially produced gluten-free beer, Bard’s Tale.

Looks like we might be on our way to a world where an aversion to wheat is not the Biblical curse it once was. *Sniffle*

And what really got me in the gut was the Seplowitz quote:

“I think the most underappreciated aspect of being diagnosed with a chronic disease is the psychological impact… You have to be very diligent about it. If we (make mistakes), we get sick.” (My life in a nutshell.)


5 Responses

  1. Jana
    Jana September 5, 2005 at 3:58 pm | | Reply

    There’s a great little italian place in NYC that specializes in risotto but also makes gluten free breads to make paninis, etc. I took my celiac friend there a while ago, and she fell in love with the place. Almost everything on the menu is GF! So, if you’re ever in NYC, it’s called the Rissotteria, and it’s in the West Village (on Bleeker). There’s also a GF bakery in Brooklyn called Joseph’s. I think they might ship stuff… The website is supposedly, though I couldn’t get it to work for me. Good luck!

  2. Nick
    Nick September 6, 2005 at 7:43 am | | Reply

    A lot of low-carb recipes at the Bernstein diabetes forum are based on nuts–almonds, flaxseed, walnuts–rather than flour. They might work for your gluten-free diet. Plus they’re super easy. Google “Bernstein diabetes” to find the diabetes forum.

    Also, did you know there’s a celiac – diabetes support group?

    Check here for info:


  3. aidan
    aidan September 6, 2005 at 1:43 pm | | Reply

    as an avid consumer of wheat (pasta mostly) i can sympathize with the hardship this must cause. i see more and more awareness everyday though. there was a recent red cross blood donor study which found a prevalence of 1:250 based on antibodies:
    hang in there

  4. Rima
    Rima June 13, 2006 at 3:13 pm | | Reply

    I was diagnosed as a celiac 35 years ago. Things are so different now that I am often amazed by the changes in food and information availability.

    I just got back from a trip to the east coast and stayed overnight in a small town in Pennsylvania. When my husband and I went out to dinner I asked about having my meal prepared without wheat flour. To my surprise the chef came to my table and announced that she was aware of celiac disease and would be able to prepare my meal gluten free.

    My local supermarket now carries many of the Amy’s Kitchens GF dinners, including pizza. This I enjoy with New Grist or Ramapo Valley GF beers — Bard’s Tale, while quite good, has an unreliable delivery record in my local store. I can also purchase most GF products at my local Kroger’s. They are also the only one who prepare their rotisseried chickens GF.

    One last item — Carrabbas Italian is another restaurant that has a separate GF menu. The food there is wonderful. Ciao.

  5. Joseph Dunphy
    Joseph Dunphy October 7, 2007 at 9:52 pm | | Reply

    I know of the gritty pasta of which you speak. I’m guessing that it was probably corn based. One thing you might try are Thai rice sticks or other Asian rice noodles. I’ve checked the ingredient labels, and they seem to be gluten free. They also have a nice, smooth, pastalike texture. It’s not like having semolina based spaghetti, but you do have something that you can work with, that seems to take nicely to lighter, more highly seasoned sauces.

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