The problem with gluten-free food


So just how sad is the above picture?

On the left is a “normal” dessert. A chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. Healthy? On Planet Fat perhaps. But still, looks disgustingly amazing.

On the right is my gluten-free dessert. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I’m not complaining mind you. But let me ask you a question. If you did not have celiac disease, which dessert would you opt for?

And this, in essence, is the problem with gluten free food.

In most situations, gluten-free food pales in comparison to “normal” food (and it’s twice as expensive…a post for another day.) And even when it doesn’t pale in comparison, it is assumed by those without celiac disease that it does.
gluten free food
So I’ll set up the situation for you. I was invited to a small party two nights ago. The gracious host sent the Dude’s wife a text message (pictured to the right) before the party so I knew I’d be taken care of. Note: if you are ever hosting a party and want to make a celiac feel comfortable, this is exactly the way to do it. No need to make a big announcement at the party. No need to draw attention to me. Just quietly let me know what I can and cannot eat and I will be eternally grateful.

Dinner was awesome and I was able to enjoy my two favorite food items: sushi and vodka (not necessarily in that order.)

When dessert time rolled around, our host presented me with my own special dessert (again…much appreciated.) It was a four-pack of the above-pictured brownies. Being the generous guy that I am, I was more than happy to share my dessert with my friends.

But finding someone without celiac disease to even try a gluten-free dessert is an exercise in futility.

That sad, lonely brownie just sat there, unwanted by the masses. The question is why.

Does gluten free food have some kind of astigmatism attached to it? Do people equate “gluten-free” with “taste-free”?

In all fairness, the gluten free brownie did sorta suck. And I certainly don’t blame anyone for not wanting to…ummm…experiment with my brownie. But this is just one instance. If given the choice between normal food and gluten-free food, 99% of the people without celiac disease opt for normal.

What does it all mean? The food manufacturers need to do a better job of making gluten free foods that are comparable in taste AND in price. And their marketing departments need to get out there and tell the public “Hey, gluten free foods don’t suck.”

Oh, and by the way, the brownie story had a happy ending.

gluten free food

“It’s chocolate and it has an umbrella in it?? Ok, I’ll eat it.” (ssshhh…just don’t tell her it’s gluten free.)

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10 thoughts on “The problem with gluten-free food”

  1. Thanks for the post….and Amen!

    We discovered that my daughter has Celiac about a year ago. It has been a major learning curve. Yesterday we went to Thanksgiving with my extended family. Everyone wanted to help, but most were uninformed abut Gluten.

    We brought our own food for her. Problem is, we needed to heat it up. I used TFX sheets to prevent cross contamination from the cookie sheets. I am wondering about cross contamination from other food in the oven. There was no bread in the oven but there were a couple of casseroles: Sweet Potato and Green Bean (with the soup and onion rings).

    She seems to be OK today….but how careful do I need to be?


  2. In a word: VERY. Always, always err on the side of caution. That being said, I wouldn’t think cooking other items in the same over would contaminate, unless it was something with lots of flour.

  3. I live in a house with 6 people (one of them is 19yr old young man) I kind of like it that no one wants to eat my gluten free stuff, especially the deserts. It’s a well kept secret that some of it tastes great, so….shhhhhhhhh 😉

  4. I have heard that some gluten free products contain arsenic and other toxins as part of the gluten removal process. Do you know if this is valid??? I try to eat as paleo as possible due to my horrible thyroid issues and back pain and body aches I get when I eat anything processed or with gluten

  5. I just want to thank you for your blog! I have found it very insightful, funny and helpful. I am not a celiac, but I have a true intolerance. My life was hell before I went off gluten. migraines, severe bloating, cramping, nausea, hot flashes and bathroom runs are only a small portion of what I would deal with daily. I have actually found your blog the most interesting because you 1) actually say it like it is and 2) you aren’t necessarily all about the GF processed foods out there. one way I went GF cheaper was by eliminating gluten and replacing veggies, fruits and lean meats. (basically paleo). I have some close friends with Celiac and they have been such a help to me navigating this new way of life. I really feel for you guys though! If I happen to have some contamination I find that I can handle it in small doses, (although it builds up fast and then I am back where I started) whereas my one friend would get so severely sick at once. Just wanted to post and say thanks for your frankness and support to celiacs and struggling Gluten Free-ers. Also, side note: King Arthur Flour has come out with some amazing mixes and desserts. When I make them I don’t even tell people they are GF and they would never guess. Their GF flour is also comparable cup for cup when baking with 1/4 tsp of xantham gum. I feel like I can actually bake and cook again! yay!

  6. I recently celebrated my birthday and as my sister has celiac I made the entire meal gluten free and especially a flourless choc birthday cake. The whole party ate from it…it was so delicious. So no need to make separate food any more especially with the thousands of amazing recipes online. 6 days after my birthday I was diagnosed with celiac and now after 33 years marraige my hubby is LOVING my food and baked goods. Thanks online celiac community, I feel really supported.

    1. Super, in my quest for eradicating gluten from my baking, I am also happy for all the tasty alternatives there are. Thanks for sharing your story too, it is inspiring.

  7. My wife and I discovered Krusteaz Gluten Free Double Chocolate Brownie Mix at Costco and have fallen in love. I do not have to eat GF but we maintain our house 100% GF and I can honestly say these are some of the best brownies I have ever eaten, gluten or no.

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Who I am. And who I'm not.

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I AM someone who's been gluten-free since 2007 due to a diagnosis of severe celiac disease. I'm someone who can steer you in the right direction when it comes to going gluten-free. And I'm someone who will always give you the naked truth about going gluten free.

I AM NOT someone who embraces this gluten-free craziness. I didn’t find freedom, a better life or any of that other crap when I got diagnosed. With all due respect to Hunter S. Thompson, I found fear and loathing of an unknown world. But if I can share my wisdom, tell my stories and make the transition easier on you, I’ve done my job.

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