When I got Coeliac Disease back in the 20th century, there wasn’t much in the way of a freefrom aisle. In fact, there was a shelf.
But a shelf it was and it signified hope.
Of course, with all true challenges, there are always obstacles. I wrote to Tesco’s to ask if they’d label all their products ‘gluten-free’ or ‘contains gluten’ and they told me it would take too much effort. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this, but given they’d addressed the letter to ‘Mr’ Ali, I knew the letter hadn’t come from the most intelligent of the Tesco’s species.
That was back in 2003 and even Tesco’s didn’t take long to jump on the freefrom bandwagon.
I became extremely optimistic about gluten-free products as the decade continued. Admittedly, it never helped when a new study came out proving that the gluten-free diet contained more fat than a normal one* or that “fad dieters” had nothing wrong with them and only a tiny percentage of the world actually had a real problem. But there’s always going to be an opposition.
* Initially, gluten-free products did contain more fat. Recipes weren’t very well developed and frequently biscuits would have twice as much fat as normal ones. The studies weren’t incorrect but they didn’t consider the reasons. They were comparing the gluten-free chefs’ beginnings with everyone else’s middles: if you’ve been perfecting recipes for years, you’re bound to have a few more tricks up your sleeve than people who’ve just begun to experiment.
And here we are in 2015. The new allergen laws have made things easier. Restaurants have to know their gluten-free from their dairy-free. The freefrom aisle continues to expand. Fresh products are beginning to appear. The freezer section gets bigger. It all adds up to a very bright future for those of us who are denied certain food groups.
Coeliacs, your day is coming, and it’s gonna be a good ‘un.
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