I was distressed to read in Meredith Goad’s recommendation in her column on Jan. 1 (“Soup to Nuts: An end-of-year look forward and backward at food trends in Maine”) that restaurants do away with gluten-free menus based on the statistic that only 1 percent of the population has celiac disease.
I am gluten intolerant – so are my mother, my sister, her daughter and another sister. In all these cases, we are eating gluten-free at the direction of a doctor. Keep in mind, when any one of us eats out, we generally do so with friends and family who will also prefer to eat at establishments that will provide gluten-free choices.
According to the National Institutes of Health, between 5 percent and 10 percent of all people may suffer from a gluten sensitivity of some form. Thirty percent of the U.S. population is estimated to have the genes necessary for celiac disease, and 97 percent of Americans estimated to have celiac disease are not diagnosed.
Continued exposure to gluten has the potential to create a number of chronic health problems and significantly increases the risk for certain cancers and other diseases in both children and adults. A study by the Mayo Clinic published in 2012 also indicates that celiac disease may be on the rise in the U.S. population, possibly in response to the increases in exposure to gluten in the American diet.
I am so grateful to the restaurants that understand and willingly accommodate the dietary limitations of my family as well as many of my friends and co-workers who are also gluten intolerant.
Please ignore Meredith Goad’s recommendation to stop listing gluten-free menu items. There are many, many more people who will make decisions about which restaurants to frequent than she would have you believe – not just those who have to avoid gluten, but those who love them as well.