A new Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics study has investigated how the recent proliferation of the gluten-free industry has affected individuals living with celiac disease.
In interviews with 17 adults with celiac disease living in Canada, participants experienced the growth of the gluten-free industry as a “double-edged sword.” While they were grateful for more palatable gluten-free options, they were increasingly faced with misunderstandings about the severity of celiac disease due to many non-celiac disease individuals subscribing to the gluten-free diet.
This made certain types of social situations more easily manageable–for example, there were more gluten-free options available at restaurants; however, others produced distress, such as worry about an increased risk of inadvertently consuming gluten. Participants also felt that they may be perceived, or even perceived themselves, as high maintenance.
“While the popularization of the gluten-free diet has offered benefits to many individuals with celiac disease, it has also amplified some of the common challenges associated with having to follow the diet so strictly. As this condition is becoming increasingly diagnosed, it is important that healthcare professionals and policy-makers understand these subtler burdens when developing strategies with patients to improve the management of celiac disease,” said lead author James King, of the University of Calgary.