Celiac disease makes 'gluten-free' a necessity, not a trend
Eating gluten-free foods is a fast-growing trend, but for those with Celiac disease, avoiding foods like wheat and rye is a necessity.
Finding foods that omit the protein is getting easier but for those with Celiac disease, eating out can still be risky.
For Kristen Oliver, eating the wrong food can be debilitating – days in bed with severe stomach problems, headaches and exhaustion.
Oliver was diagnosed with Celiac disease 10 years ago. She can't eat gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye.
The Canadian Celiac Association estimates that 1 in 133 people are affected by the disease. The only treatment is changing your diet.
“I had to learn to cook and that's when I started my blog and I follow other gluten free blogs to find new ideas and recipes,” she said.
Louise Pearl, president of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association, says when she was diagnosed, there weren't that many food options, so she opened her own store and bakery: Louise Sans Gluten in Dorval.
Over the years, the market for gluten-free products has grown in popularity. It is now a $500-million a year industry in Canada.
These days, it's eating out that's the real challenge. Even when a menu indicates an item is gluten free, it may not be safe.
“A person will think that steak is fine because you can have it with nothing on it. You have to think of the cooking surface too. If they're putting it on the same grill that just had chicken with soya sauce then the grill is contaminated,” Pearl said.
The only way to make sure the food is safe, is to prepare in a different area and even served on different plates.
Ottavio Restaurant was one of the first restaurants to provide a gluten-free menu. They use a special test to detect the presence of gluten in their meals.
“The final product is tested by what we call the easy test, it's made by Eliza technologies and what it does is detect up to 10ppm (particles per million) of gluten so anything that by chance has been contaminated we eliminate the batch,” explained the restaurant’s owner Aki Progakis.
Doctors recommend those with Celiac disease call a restaurant or bakery ahead of time and ask about ingredients and preparation before showing up.