There are approximately 200,000 diagnosed celiacs in the United States today. Let’s multiply that number by five to accommodate the undiagnosed celiacs and others who have made a lifetime commitment to the gluten free diet for medically valid reasons. That’s a million people! But we also know that roughly sixty million people in America purchase gluten free food annually for reasons that I can’t begin to understand.
All sixty million of us use the term ‘gluten free’. We are the only group of people stifled by this limitation. For example, my wife and I both attempt to follow a ‘heart-healthy diet’ but that term means something different to my wife since she is a heart attack survivor. We have a choice among three different grades of gasoline. We choose between ‘restricted calorie food’, ‘low calorie food’, and ‘no calorie food’.
I was diagnosed in 1999. I remember seeing the slogan “the diet is our prescription”. I agree. Our diet was totally unappetizing, and was more expensive than most prescriptions. No one considered ‘going gluten free’ if they had any reasonable alternative to a life of illness and pain. The term ‘gluten free’ was useful in those days but now seems totally obsolete. Domino’s pizza is among many companies are marketing ‘gluten free’ products that are not recommended for people with celiac disease.
I would like to address this problem. I have an idea about what needs to be done and a website that gives me a platform for doing it. Obviously, this is a huge task so I don’t plan to start until get some input from you. My e-mail address is email@example.com.
I propose to continue using the term ‘gluten free’, otherwise it will take the computers at least a decade to catch up with us. But when I use that term, I will always add a qualifying comment. For example:
- Gluten free [dedicated] could mean “prepared in a dedicated facility using gluten free ingredients”
- Gluten free [<10 ppm] could mean “tested and found to contain less that 10 ppm of harmful gluten”
- Gluten free [no toxic ingredients] could mean “no unsafe or questionable ingredients listed”.
Hundreds more ‘qualifiers’ will be needed and I will probably need to organize them into some sort of glossary and give each of them a standard definition. Please let me know what ‘qualifiers’ (and definitions thereof) are important to you!