As you walk down the street in any given city, you'll be likely to see restaurants that boast gluten-free recipes, options that most likely were not offered ten years ago. Like most changes, the addition of gluten-free option reflects new consumer preferences.
Gluten is a protein found in many grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. According to Women's Health magazine, gluten is used to make foods thick and tasty so it is added to everything from breads and pastas to salad dressing and seasonings.
In the past, living a gluten-free lifestyle meant saying goodbye to your favorite foods or at the very least having to restrict options for eating out of the house. Today, however, due to restaurants that cater to the needs of gluten-free customers, gluten-free individuals can cut out the ingredient from your diet and still maintain their normal dining habits and preferences.
The Huffington Post reported that the top ten grub-hub cities for gluten-free options are led by Detroit, MI; Stamford, CT; Eugene, OR. Albany, NY; Phoenix, AZ; Lansing, MI; Denver, CO; Seattle, WA; Ann Arbor, MI; and Providence, RI also made the list. Interestingly, most gluten-friendly cities are located on the East and West Coasts, with few landlocked cities making the ranks.
People go gluten free for necessary health reasons; according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, about 1 in every 133 Americans suffers from celiac disease, a chronic digestive disorder for which a 100% gluten-free diet is the only cure. Moreover, according to CNN, doctors believe that up to ten percent of Americans "have a related and poorly understood condition known as non-celiac gluten intolerance (NCGI), or gluten sensitivity."
Others avoid the gluten to cure "many conditions aside from celiac, including migraines, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome." Others, who associate gluten with foods heavy in carbohydrates like pizza, bread and pasta, cut out gluten as a weight loss method. While eliminating gluten does not necessarily cause weight-loss, it can help dieters to avoid heavily caloric foods containing gluten and eat more lean protein, fruits and vegetables, reported ABC News.
Recently, many people without gluten allergies or sensitivities are making the decision to give up the ingredient in their diets. According to the Huffington Post, 29% of American adults have made the individual choice to either decrease their gluten consumption or eliminate it entirely from their diets. We've witnessed lots of health fads, some more sustainable than others, such as switching to vegetarianism or veganism. As the gluten-free trend gains traction, restaurants are adapting their menus to cater toward the restrictive diet.
Gluten-free pizza parlors and bakeries have been sprouting across cities, making it easier than ever for people to maintain their food preferences despite gluten restrictions. While some restaurants charge a premium for gluten-free versions of their recipes, they are still taking strides to ensure that gluten-free dieters can eat out and order in. The internet has also witnessed the spread of websites and blogs devoted to helping gluten-free individuals navigate the restaurant scene.
Acknowledging "the importance of providing our guests with many options, including alternative choices for people with food and dietary restrictions," Dunkin' Donuts recently announced plans to introduce gluten-free items to its menu by the end of 2013. It would not be surprising if even more fast food chains follow suit.
Source: Gluten Free Guide
Whether or not gluten-friendly restaurants are enabling individuals to become gluten-free or simply following the trend, it's great to see that they are making the effort to cater toward different lifestyles and dietary restrictions. We should expect to see more gluten-friendly cities popping up across the map as more Americans continue to cut out gluten from their diets.