Monday, January 4, 2010

Celiac Dreams

 The Savvy Celiac ran a survey about changes made to the celiac community that we wish were made in the last decade. Things like better awareness about the disease, in the medical community and the food community as well, and better labeling for foods and medications.  All of these issues are of the utmost importance for those of us living with celiac.

I have a few more things I'd like to bring up, though. One of the major grievances I have with the celiac community is the price and portions of gluten free products. Gluten free products cost so much more than similar products made with gluten based ingredients, and often, there's less of it. For instance, my loaf of Dr. Schar's Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread cost me about $5.50. The loaf is smaller than a regular loaf of bread in two ways: the number of slices, and the actual size of the slice. My sandwiches look like tea sandwiches. So in essence, I pay more money for less bread. I realize the ingredients for the bread are more costly, so I understand the need for higher price, but can I please have a big-girl slice of bread? I like food, and I get hungry, and tea sandwich doesn't fill me up. Almost all of the gluten free products are like this. If you must charge more, make the portion size worth my money. Those of us with celiac don't have the option of buying other products, and companies are taking advantage of that necessity to overcharge for their goods. It needs to be changed.

Another grievance I have is the availability of gluten free products at major supermarket chains. Not everyone has access to specialty grocery stores. The Giants and Food Lions of the world need to take more initiative in providing a wider range of brands and products. Some improvement on this front was made, but not enough. I've seen many grocery stores carry Amy's organic products, but not carry the gluten-free varieties. It's unacceptable. While we're on this line of thinking, I also want to see grocery stores separate the gluten free from the organic foods. Just because it is oraganic does not make a product gluten free and vice versa. It makes for a tedious trip to the grocery store. Some brands, like Amy's, make both organic products with gluten and ones that are gluten free. I know the tendency is to itemize products by brand, but it's made for difficult shopping. There's a great little health food store in Denville, NJ that has an aisle just for the gluten free products it carries. It also has a separate freezer for frozen goods that are gluten free. Shopping there was one of the most pleasurable experiences I've had. I could go to the aisle, pick a product, and know that it was safe for me to eat. Because of that, I was willing to make the trip to Denville to shop there.

One final note, and this one's minor, but it would be lovely. I'd love to see restaurants doing gluten free desserts. More often than not, when I dine out, I can find an entrée and side dish that are gluten free and delicious, but for dessert I'm stuck with vanilla ice cream. I love vanilla ice cream, but I also love cookies and cake. Even a crustless cheesecake would be a better option. So often this diet is about exclusion. Order this dish without that sauce. Don't eat that. I'd love to see the restaurant world embrace the challenge of making it a diet of inclusion. Even if they have to contract out to companies making pre made gluten free desserts. I don't know...just get creative.

It's all about education and involvement. And I hope the changes won't take another ten years to come.


  1. I share your final (and minor) grievance of lack of dessert options. Why can't a resturant try to seduce their patrons with a "flourless" cake option? It is one of my specialties when I am making dinner at home for guests.

  2. I'm glad someone else shares my opinion on that! I miss gooey desserts that I don't have to make.

  3. I agree that the availability and variety are unsatisfactory. A good alternative is shopping on the internet, especially since shipping costs as well as the higher costs of gluten-free food over their gluten-containing counter parts qualify as medical expenses if you are a diagnosed celiac. That means the IRS lets you deduct those costs if the accumulate to more than 7.5% of your gross adjusted annual income. So start 2010 by saving all your receipts...

    A couple of friends and I recently founded a company called Custom Choice Cereal. We offer you the ability to customize your personal gluten-free cereal mix through an intuitive online platform and even name your cereal. All ingredients are stored and mixed in a dedicated gluten-free facility, so there's no risk of cross-contamination (another big issue). Check it out if you will at

    Thank you!

  4. Shopping online is a great way to go, but for the last minute necessities, I think we should have the same choices and access to convienent products as our non-gf counterparts. We should be able to shop in a store just like anyone else. But thanks for the cereal info, I'll be checking it out soon!