Being recently diagnosed by a dietitian as having a gluten intolerance, I wandered along to the Gluten Free Food & Allergy Show over the weekend. It’s an annual roadshow of producers, tasters, and information stalls, all bundled into one room to celebrate the difficulty (and business opportunities) of having a food allergy or intolerance. A playground for kids and adults alike, it was packed with gluten free chocolate, pies, bread, cereals, snacks, pasta, dairy free ice-cream, yoghurt, and milk and more. My best discovery was being able to order gluten free bread from a nearby retailer for delivery – sure it’s expensive as far as bread goes but it gets serious points for convenience.
My recent diagnosis has forced me to learn more about gluten free food and I’m finding it fascinating. There is a huge industry catering for people with either mild or severe intolerances, or allergies. While the most common components of concern are gluten, milk protein, eggs, lactose, seafood, and nuts; the scope is so much wider than this, and the availability and variety of accommodating foods in 2011 is really very impressive.
Last week there was a myriad of gluten free, allergy related articles in light of Allergy Awareness Week and the upcoming show. Allergy New Zealand did a fantastic job of profiling it across all major print publications, though I also noticed themes such as ‘is gluten free healthier?’ and ‘taking the food fad too far’ developing in the media. It seems people who don’t actually have true intolerances or allergies believe cutting out gluten, or other components is fashionable and/or healthier. This fallacy isn’t helped by celebrities endorsing the weight loss benefits of eating gluten or dairy free.
I only have a mild intolerance so it’s not life-threatening if I do cave into a little bread here and there. I do sympathise with people who have coeliac disease, and I’m sure they’d agree with me – cutting out gluten is definitely not a glamorous choice by any means. We are all very grateful that our supermarkets stock our special products as it really does make life, for those of us who need them, so much easier.