I knew I couldn’t turn a blind eye anymore when my favourite Starbucks around the corner was offering gluten-free sandwich. My friend excitedly announced that she had signed up to an online dating site for gluten-free singles. Whoa! This is when I knew that the gluten-free craze was not only in full swing, but in fact had kicked up a notch.
At this juncture my curiosity was piqued regarding all things gluten-free. I wanted to know and learn what all the fuss was about, and what better way than to immerse oneself in it. So it didn’t take much convincing before I decided to give the gluten-free diet a go.
Here I was all ready to become a glutenista!
Now that I had decided to embrace this diet, all of a sudden gluten-free items seemed to pop up everywhere. How could I have been so blind to aisles of gluten-free products in the grocery stores, I wondered in amazement. There were your basic run of the mill gluten-free products. And if that didn’t tickle your fancy, there were gluten-free organic products and even better gluten-free organic vegan products – the choices were endless.
What is gluten you wonder? Well in simplified laymen’s terms, think of gluten as the glue-like substance that gives wheat and other products their chewy structure.
If one is to look in the rear-view mirror, they will recall that not too long ago gluten-free food was only consumed by hippies and those with coeliac disease.
So why the sudden avoidance of gluten you ask? Well, the wheat products we consume today have been drastically modified to where it now bears little resemblance to the original wheat that our grandmothers used. Sadly, most wheat these days is genetically modified. The modifications made to wheat was an attempt to end world hunger by producing larger crop yields. Unfortunately, while harvests increased so did gluten levels. But world hunger never ended!
I guess it’s the high levels of gluten in wheat with genetically modified elements that has many latching on to the gluten-free craze. Why did it even make a big splash on the news that Gwyneth Paltrow had put her children on a gluten-free diet? Does this mean that her daughter Apple can’t have bread?
What happened next all transpired accidentally.
I was seated for a nice dinner at a fine establishment pouring over my oversized menu when I came across the letters ‘gf’ printed next to certain dishes. Pardon me, but ‘gf’ stands for girlfriend in my texting world. Without a clue and slightly annoyed I wondered aloud, “What in God’s green earth goes ‘gf’ stand for?” From across the table boomed the words “gluten-free, silly.” Silly indeed – that’s how I felt.
That’s when I decided what better time than the present to dive into my current craze. And so I ordered my first gluten-free meal. It consisted of sustainable local fish with black rice, shaved fennel, squid, parsley and rouille. Despite my initial reservations, the dish was fork-licking delicious.
But all wasn’t great in the land of gluten-free paradise. The big letdown came when I sampled the gluten-free, yeast free ancient grains bread. Let’s say it was like a slice of cardboard made of grains and nuts! I chalked it up to a small bump on the road and kept on trekking on my path of gluten-free week.
The saving grace was when I found out that most South Asian curries were kosher to the gluten-free diet. I breathed a huge sigh of relief! Even better was the fact that many restaurants these days cater to their gluten-free patrons quite well. Why, there is even gluten-free beer – now that’s something to be said!
Truth be said, the gluten-free diet wasn’t that intrusive on my daily life. I have to admit that thanks to this diet I was forced to eat more wholesome food than usual. More importantly I became more aware of the ingredients that went into my meals. Sadly, out the window went: pasta, pizza, bread, cakes, muffins – the list seemed endless to my gluten loving self.
Be warned gluten-free doesn’t mean fat-free. Yet many have professed that they have lost weight being on the gluten-free diet, and I too belong to that camp.
So how was it being a glutenista you ask? Not bad, not bad indeed. It’s definitely not a diet for everyone. But if you are the adventuresome type that is looking for the next craze diet to jump on to, then this sure is a good one to try.
My positive attitude towards the gluten-free craze prompted my gluten-free friend to ask, if I was adventurous enough to try the vegan diet. She had barely gotten to the end of the sentence before I vanished faster than Houdini. For a meat loving creature like me, the vegan diet would have to wait until my next life!