The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

GLUTEN FREE: Trend versus disease

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10 years ago the term gluten, defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley, and crossbreeds of these grains,” was fairly unknown.
Now, gluten-free diets are all the rage amongst celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Miley Cyrus and Ian Somerhalder. The recently popularized diet led food manufacturers and restaurants alike to hop on the gluten-free bandwagon, and crank out gluten-free items as fast as possible to reap the rewards of the new fad diet. But for many people, eating gluten free is much more than the latest health craze.
Choosing to eat gluten free because it makes you feel better and having to eat gluten free are two very different things.
Now why would someone have to eat gluten free? For those who have Celiac Disease, following a strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment.
The Celiac Sprue Association (CSA) defines Celiac Disease as a genetically linked autoimmune disorder that triggers an immune response, causing damage to the small intestine and interfering with its ability to absorb nutrients. While experts once considered it to be a rare disorder, according to an Archives of Internal Medicine study conducted in 2003, Celiac Disease affects one in every 133 Americans.
Four years ago, I became the one in 133 with Celiac Disease.
It is not an allergy and pills do not “fix” it.  It is not a choice. It is not a fad diet; it is a disease.
Those with Celiac Disease take extreme precautions to avoid becoming miserably sick. We cook from scratch, diligently read food labels and research potentially “safe” restaurants in advance.
No matter if you have to eat gluten free or choose to eat gluten free, you know that finding a wide selection of gluten-free products (especially good ones) can be quite an ordeal. Thankfully, Turlock is home to gluten-free specialty store, “It’s Gluten Free,” where shopping for gluten-free items is easy.
Owner Jackie Borges described her motivation for opening a gluten-free store in Turlock.
“We want to offer people a place where they can come and find a variety of gluten-free products without having to go to several different locations,” Borges said.
While gluten can be seen in obvious forms like pasta and pizza, it is also hidden in other products. In her book, “The G Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide,” author Elisabeth Hasselbeck writes, “medications, marinades, condiments, coffees, packaged spices, postage stamp adhesive, envelope seals, lipsticks, hairsprays and even your daily multivitamin can all contain gluten as well.”
Though there is more awareness surrounding gluten-free eating, it can be a double-edged sword.
California State University, Stanislaus almunus, Alexandria Backus, explained that as great as it is to see gluten-free dishes available, many facilities fail to do so responsibly.
“Cross-contamination is the biggest challenge for Celiacs. Any trace of gluten, whether it’s a crouton on a salad or a bread crumb, will make a Celiac sick for an extended period of time,” Backus said. “When I eat out, I have the expectation that I will likely leave sick.”
Those who choose a gluten-free diet are not concerned if the same pizza slicer for the regular pizza is used to slice the gluten-free pizza– this is where ensuring things are truly gluten free for consumers gets tricky.
CSU Stanislaus’s dining services, Chartwells, offers items for people omitting gluten from their diet, but the options are not gluten free.
“The ingredients we use contain no gluten. However, it is made in a kitchen that has products with gluten,” Chartwell’s Marketing Manager, Taylor Waldon, said. “At this point in time, Chartwells does not have the capability to be a ‘gluten free’ environment, but we do our best to ensure that we have options available to those with dietary restrictions.”
Celiac Disease is often confused to be a trend or a choice, but awareness should distinguish it as a serious condition potentially detrimental to one’s health.

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GLUTEN FREE: Trend versus disease