Gluten-Free Diet and Lifestyle
From Women's Studies
Gluten-free diets, according to the Mayo Clinic, are diets that have been created to treat celiac disease. Gluten can be found in many different grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. When people with celiac disease consume gluten, it causes their small intestines to inflame and can be very painful. Grains are in many foods, so following this diet isn’t easy. However, due to more awareness of the disease and the gluten-free diet, there has been a noticeable increase in gluten-free products and resources that are available (Mayo Clinic Staff 6). retrived from 
Gluten-free diets and cookbooks
Following a gluten-free diet and being vegan are not the same thing. Many aspects of both diets are similar and vastly different. Recipes for both diets can be found in separate cookbooks but often times overlap in the same cookbook. Veganomicon, a vegan cookbook, contains all vegan recipes but also many that are gluten-free as well. Cookbooks can be very telling of a person, especially when that person is following strict diets such as gluten-free and vegan. Janet Theophano and Arjun Appadurai discuss ways in which cookbooks represent diets and status. It will be obvious if a person has celiac disease just by looking at their cookbooks.
Dieting is never simple, nor is it typically cheap. It is easy to see just by walking through a local grocery store that bags of chips, junk food, and processed food are much cheaper than healthier products. This begs the question: can you afford your diet? According to Pam Cureton from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the cost of gluten-free food is much higher than the cost of the wheat-containing counterparts (Cureton 2). Arjun Appadurai brings up Jack Goody’s argument in the article How to Make a National Cuisine: Cookbooks in Contemporary India by saying that cookbooks represent a specific class and hierarchy, and since cookbooks represent diets and status, they also represent the owner of the cookbook (Appadurai 289). “Cookbooks appear in literate civilizations where the display of class hierarchies is essential to their maintenance, and where cooking is seen as a communicable variety of expert knowledge” (290). Not only do you need the money to purchase the ingredients that can’t all be found in the local supermarket, but you also need to know how to prepare them. The reason gluten-free foods are more expensive is because removing gluten from the food is an additional expense for the manufacturers. Also, celiac disease is still relatively new to most of society. However, as more and more people get diagnosed, the cost of the food will decrease as sales increase (Cureton 1-2). Cureton brings up a few ways to save on the cost of the diet. One way is by purchasing foods at the grocery store that are naturally gluten-free; such as fruits, vegetables, rice, beef, pork, poultry, fish, nuts, most dairy products, oils, butter, herbs and spices (3). It is usually more difficult to find products such as pasta and cookies that are gluten-free and reasonably priced at local supermarkets. However, in Veganomicon, each recipe lists if it is gluten-free and supermarket friendly to accommodate both dietary needs and people who are on a budget. Cookbooks, recipes, and diets show what kind of person you are. In Janet Theophano’s first chapter of her book Eat My Words, she says “From their cookbooks, we can learn about the writer and the social circles in which she traveled” (Theophano 13). It will be obvious if a person has celiac disease just by looking through their cookbook because this is a diet that a person must follow for the rest of their lives. Theophano is also pointing out that not only could a cookbook tell you what type of diet that person was on, but also what the person did, if they entertained and prepared large meals, or only prepared single-serving meals, which as Anne Murcott discussed isn’t very likely that a person would cook dinner only for themselves (Murcott 114). This may possibly be an assumption, however, because if you found single-serving recipes in a cookbook, you would assume that person didn’t have a family to cook for. But following a gluten-free diet restricts what you can eat, so that person could have recipes for their diet but also prepare food for their family that isn’t gluten-free. According to Murcott, cooking is the woman’s responsibility to her family and the decision as to what to have for dinner is the choice of the husband (116). This can be problematic, however, if the wife has celiac disease and the husband does not. This could be a reason why her cookbook would look different from a wife without celiac disease, so jumping to conclusions on the lives of the women from their cookbooks may not always be right. Cureton mentions the issue of having the entire family follow a gluten-free diet as a way to be sure there is no cross-contamination. However, a gluten-free diet is very expensive and purchasing gluten-free food for not only one person but an entire family can be unrealistic for many families (Cureton 10). Cookbooks allow people to experience new food that they aren't used to. Having gluten-free options in a vegan cookbook brings awareness to that diet, especially since the vegan diet is more well known. Appadurai mentions how recipes can “move where people may not” (Appadurai 292). You can experience gluten-free food through recipes without even being aware of it. People with celiac disease don't have a choice but to follow the gluten-free diet. Sharing recipes will help spread awareness to celiac disease and the diet, and will also create a community for people with the disease in the form of a support group.
by: Erica King
Appadurai Aarjun. How to make a national cuisine: cookbooks in contemporary India. Comp. Stud. Soc. His. 30(1):3–24. 1998.
Cureton, Pam. The Gluten-Free Diet: Can Your Patient Afford It? April 2007, 4/11/2012. <http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/medicine/divisions/digestive-health/nutrition-support-team/nutrition-articles/CuretonArticle.pdf>
Mayo Clinic Staff. Gluten-Free Diet: What’s allowed, what’s not. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/gluten-free-diet/my01140>
Murcott, Anne. “It’s a Pleasure to Cook for Him”: Food, Mealtimes, and Gender in Some South Wales Households. London: Heinemann Educational Books, Ltd., 1983.
Theophano, Janet. Cookbooks and Communities. Eat My Words. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.
Gluten-free bread and other products
Gluten-free diets involve eating a wide variety of foods that are naturally gluten-free, including fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy products, corn, rice, potatoes, and a range of nuts, legumes, and “pseudo-grains” such as quinoa. At the same time, many people following this diet desire the gluten-containing foods they used to eat or see others eating all the time—items like bread, crackers, and baked goods. It is understandable, then, that gluten-free products meant to take the place of their gluten-filled counterparts are gradually becoming more prevalent on grocery store shelves, in specialty bakeries, and in peoples’ homes as they bake and create their own gluten-free bread, pizza dough, cakes, and so on. Most remain different from the “traditional” versions but form a logical and often welcome component of the gluten-free diet in our largely industrial food-production society.
Characteristics and Labeling
Gluten is a protein found in many grains, the most well-known of which are wheat, barley, and rye. The main functions of gluten in most bread products are in helping the bread rise and hold its shape and in lending elasticity and chewiness to the finished product. Kneading dough prior to baking increases the gluten’s development, and so the longer a dough is kneaded, the chewier it will be. In contrast, gluten-free breads take on different textures than “traditional” wheat or rye breads. They are less chewy and more delicate, since gluten also acts as a stabilizer. Many recipes for gluten-free bread call for xanthan gum, a stabilizing agent that provides structure. (1)
Different types of flours are a main component of most gluten-free baked goods. Regular all-purpose flour contains about 10-12% gluten, and bread flour is even higher in gluten and often used in products intended to be especially chewy, like pizza or bagels. (2) Alternative flours used in gluten-free baking include rice flour, chickpea flour, cornmeal, and many others, as well as a variety of ground nut meals such as almond meal, which also adds fiber and protein to gluten-free products.
Labeling of gluten-free products is becoming more common, though not on par with certain other labels such as allergy warnings and the now federally-required addition of trans fat content on nutrition facts panels. According to Codex Alimentarius—which is a set of food standards set by a joint effort between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and began in 1963—the maximum amount of gluten a product can contain to be labeled “gluten-free” is 20 parts per million (ppm). The Codex also cites oats as somewhat ambiguous regarding whether they are safe for consumption in people with celiac disease or other gluten intolerance, suggesting that some people can tolerate them while others cannot. It states that “the allowance of oats that are not contaminated with wheat, rye or barley in foods covered by this standard may be determined at the national level.” (3)
Rising Availability and Outreach
The rapid rise of awareness of the gluten-free diet has provided many food businesses with the opportunity to start up or expand into this new market niche. In many ways, gluten-free lifestyle is being treated much like other “alternative” foodways, such as following a vegetarian, vegan, or low-carb diet. Entire grocery store sections dedicated to gluten-free products have sprung up across the country. Whole Foods, for one, has a “Gluten Free Bakehouse” in North Carolina that supplies products sold throughout Whole Foods stores. (4) Other products such as gluten-free imitation meats can be found, but not always without issues, as was evident when Whole Foods had to pull a number of items off of shelves after consumers and subsequent lab tests discovered that they contained significant levels of gluten. (5) Thus, gluten-free labeling remains an issue and is not officially regulated as of yet by the FDA, although the administration has proposed a labeling rule using the Codex Alimentarius standard of 20 ppm or less. (6)
Another trend is the growing popularity of specialty bakeries and stores who seek business not only from people following a strict gluten-free diet but also anyone who happens to pass by wanting to try something different or people who believe eating less gluten may be beneficial for their overall health. In Pittsburgh, bakeries such as Gluuteny, a higher-end bakery in Squirrel Hill, entice shoppers with gluten-free recreations of familiar items—chocolate chip cookies, pastries, quickbreads, and more. They also provide an array of flours and products for customers to take home and use in making their own baked goods. In this way, these types of specialty bakeries and shops provide communities with local outlets for sourcing items they desire and makes following a gluten-free diet more accessible.
The Internet is another useful tool for promoting and selling gluten-free products, and it also provides numerous sources for information and support in seeking to eat gluten-free. Food blogs are especially helpful because they create a more intimate connection between the writer and his or her readers, making them feel welcomed and providing them with a means of communicating with similar people across long distances. Even the above-mentioned Gluuteny bakery has a website where people can view not just basic information and their menu but also recipes and a page for purchasing products online. (7)
Reception and Potential Issues
Of course, along with the growing knowledge concerning celiac disease, there is also a growing field of study and literature surrounding the gluten-free diet both overall and in the context of lifestyle rather than a dietary adaption to gluten intolerance. There are many published books that suggest that gluten is harmful to everyone’s health and that a gluten-free diet is appropriate for anyone looking to become healthier. As with many similar cases of the proverbial “food fight,”—for instance, denouncing meat-eating or GMOs or the issue of organic vs. conventional produce—further study is necessary before coming to conclusions. It is safe to say, though, that these types of publications are quite predictable when you consider how powerful food is as representative of identity and as a central figure in countless social and political discussions or controversies. Different diets, whether they are requirements for proper health, a means for adhering to certain ideologies, or even just something fun to try, will always be criticized in various ways by people who follow opposing diets.
As we have seen in several of our readings, notions of purity and appropriateness in terms of food and diet are highly variable. Consider the practice of keeping kosher in Miriam’s Kitchen or the changing nature of allowable foods in a Sunni Islam diet discussed by Carolyn Rouse and Janet Hoskins. Although following a gluten-free diet is usually different in that it resolves physical harm and discomfort, these examples are relevant in that many “special” diets can be difficult and time-consuming to adhere to, and gluten-free is no different.
Further, it is important to keep in mind that buying gluten-free products and ingredients can be expensive, and until these types of products become more along the lines of mainstream, higher prices will likely stick around. Currently, while a 5-lb. bag of all-purpose or bread flour listed on King Arthur Flour’s website costs $4.95, a 2-lb. box of their “Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour” sells for $7.95, a price increase of nearly three dollars per pound! This is just one example among many and illustrates a problematic aspect of following a gluten-free diet if sourcing ready-made gluten-free products and ingredients is part of the plan.
By: Caroline Sefcik
1) Barbone, Elizabeth. “How to Make Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread.” Serious Eats. 25 May 2010. Web. 10 April 2012. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/05/how-to-make-gluten-free-sandwich-bread-recipe.html
2) “Our signature flours.” King Arthur Flour. 2010. Web. 10 April 2012. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/flours/
3) “Codex standards for foods for special dietary use for persons intolerant to gluten.” Codex Alimentarius, FAO/WHO Food Standards. Revised 2008. Web PDF. 10 April 2012. http://www.codexalimentarius.net/web/index_en.jsp#
4) “Gluten Free Bakehourse.” Whole Foods Market. 2012. Web. 10 April 2012. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/gluten-free-bakehouse.php
5) Roe, Sam. “Whole Foods pulls 'gluten-free' products from shelves after Tribune story.” Chicago Tribune 31 Dec. 2008. Web. 10 April 2012. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-whole_foodsdec31,0,4055580.story
6) “A Glimpse at ‘Gluten-Free’ Food Labeling.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Updated 1/27/2012. Web. 10 April 2012. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm265212.htm
7) Gluuteny website. http://www.gluuteny.com/
Ehrlich, Elizabeth. Miriam’s Kitchen. New York, NY: Penguin Press, 1997.
Rouse, Carolyn and Janet Hoskins. “Purity, Soul Food, and Sunni Islam: Explorations at the Intersection of Consumption and Resistance.” In Taking Food Public, ed. Psyche Williams-Forson and Carole Counihan, pp. 175-194. New York, NY: Routledge Press, 2012.
Whether for health, body image, or medical reasons, the expansion of the Gluten-free diet is being realized increasingly more in contemporary society. As more and more individuals follow this diet out of necessity or voluntary choice, the pressure for restaurants to provide gluten-free menus is similarly increasingly valued to sustain business. Likewise, for members of the mentioned community, "dining out can certainly be challenging for those who must follow a gluten-free diet" (Lapid).
As with any community, the formation of boundaries and a sense of identity is essential not only to the creation, but also to the maintenance of the group. The cooking of the gluten-free society, then, "is a language in which it unconsciously translates its structure" (Levi-Strauss). Those who follow the alternative foodway of the Gluten-free diet not only distinguish themselves from mainstream dieters, but they also identity with a new, alternative group to which they belong through shared identities and characteristics. As a language, food endlessly communicates with others things about those who consume it. In consequence, "food is available for the management as a way of showing the world many things about the eater" (Anderson). Food, in many ways, serves to reinforce messages of solidarity, as similarities are shared and communities are formed. On the other hand, however, food conveys ideas of separation, as families and communities are defined and those who do not identify are marked as "other" (Anderson).
For many restaurants, the creation of a unique atmosphere that promotes the ideas of group unanimity and family is key to establishing a loyal pool of customers. For many large-scale, successful restaurants, the promotion of "family meals [that] promote conversation, the sharing of ideas, and a sense of belonging" aids in the production of reliable business (Emerson). Especially for those restaurants that foster widespread, national business, recognizing the increasing pressure to provide menus that cater to the dietary restrictions of its Gluten-free guests is absolutely essential. Not only does the formation of these menus allow the corporations to sustain their current customers, but the creation of Gluten-free menus simultaneously attracts a significant portion of the population as future, potentially loyal customers.
Providing a Gluten-free menu, however, has certain implications for the producer, distributor, and consumer of the food. Firstly, the consumer must ensure that he not only understands the restrictions of his diet and the menu provided to him, but he also must develop a sense of trust in both the distributor and producer of his food. The distributor, akin to a waitress, serves as the mediator between the producer and the consumer. She, in a lot of ways, is responsible for promoting and maintaining a sense of trust between herself and the consumer. The producer, on the other hand, is directly responsible for ensuring that the food he produces is free of contaminates that could harm the consumer of the food. He, therefore, must take necessary precautions (such as properly cleaning his cookware, avoiding cross-contamination, etc.). The process of consuming, mediating and producing food that conforms to the Gluten-free diet, in summation, is a task that is not only time-consuming, but also quite trust-inducing.
Example of a Gluten-free menu
(source from: http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&biw=1024&bih=867&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=kxXlNTCMpgbhqM:&imgrefurl=http://www.glutenfreeblonde.com/restaurants/olive-gardens-gluten-free-menu/&docid=Ve9ZcD3NUz1jbM&imgurl=http://i39.tinypic.com/n3t79d.jpg&w=400&h=807&ei=Wf6GT6zyBIHE0QH5i-HtBw&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=224&sig=102456092931614862972&page=1&tbnh=176&tbnw=87&start=0&ndsp=19&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0,i:69&tx=32&ty=70)
by Bethany Bock
1. Anderson, Eugene N. "Me, Myself, and the Others: Food as Social Marker." Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture. New York and London: New York UP, 2005. 124-39. Print.
2. Emerson, Jo Ann. "Emerson (MO08) - Press Release - Returning to Our Family Dinner Table." The United States House of Representatives · House.gov. 30 Aug. 2003. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://www.house.gov/list/hearing/mo08_emerson/col_030830.html
3. Lapid, Nancy. "Celiac-Friendly Restaurant Directories." About.com Celiac Disease. 09 Nov. 2010. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/socializingwithoutgluten/a/DiningOutLists.htm>.
4. Levi-Strauss, Claude. "The Culinary Triangle." Food and Culture. Ed. Carol Counihan and Penny Van Esterik. New York and London: Routledge, 1997, 2008. 36-43. Print
Individuals Who Do Not Eat Gluten
Individuals have different reasons for not eating gluten. Some people are affected by Celiac Disease in which their bodies reject gluten. Other individuals do not eat gluten do to the health benefits that are associated with a gluten free diet. Gluten free lifestyles have become more prevalent in recent time. Do to the growing numbers of people who follow this diet an gluten free identity has formed.
Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease
Some people do not have a choice to eat gluten or not. Gluten intolerance refers to different disorders such as Celiac Disease and wheat allergies. Roughly 6% of the population is affected from some sort of gluten intolerance (1). Celiac disease (CD) is a chronic, autoimmune disorder induced by gluten proteins. The disease affects mainly older children and adults. The only cure for Celiac disease is to eat a gluten free diet. Celiac Disease (CD) is a relatively common disease. In the US 1 in 1,750 people have been clinically diagnosed with CD.It is estimated from looking at donated blood that 1 in 105 people could have CD. It is also estimated that for each diagnosed case there is 3-7 undiagnosed cases (2). The classical ways of identifying CD are revolved around basic symptoms such as diarrhea and weight loss.There are clinical ways to diagnose CD as well. CD can be identified by looking at the presence of IgA autoantibodies to tissue transglutaminase (IgA TG). The only real way to tell the severity of one's gluten intolerance is to switch to a gluten free diet and observe the changes the diet creates in the body(3)
Pros and Cons of Gluten Free Diets
Even though some are forced to eat gluten free, there are benefits to eating this way. Gluten free diets can help individuals lose weight. Also, if an individual has Rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Neuromyelitis, Down’s syndrome, Peripheral neuropathy, Multiple sclerosis, Seizures, Ataxia and late-onset Friedreich ataxia, Brain fog, Osteoporosis, or Type 2 and Type 1 diabetes and anemia, replacing gluten from their diet can help individuals lessen these diseases effects.There is also some drawbacks to eating gluten free. Not eating gluten for a long time can result in different deficiencies in the body do to the lack of variety in nutrients being consumed. Gluten free foods tend to be low in folate, fiber, and iron. Also the minimum amounts of grains one should consume is also more challenging do to the lack of gluten free options (4).
Individuals Adapting Gluten Free Lifestyles
Due to the benefits, eating gluten free has been becoming more and more popular. "A lot of people are going gluten free... but they really don't know why," Suzy Badaracco president of culinary tides said. Gluten free products have been on the rise, partially due to the growing awareness of Celiac Disease, and the overall idea that not eating gluten is healthful for an individual. Gluten free diets are a growing food trend in the US (5). This is a food trend aimed towards women and is percieved more feminine. More women are diagnosed with Celiac Disease which makes the push for gluten free options coming from women. Different websites such as celiac.org and glutenfree.com are trafficked mainly by women (6). The people that do not have gluten sensitivity, but choose to not eat gluten tend to be women as well. As Carol Adams explored meat represents masculinity and vegetables represent femininity (7). Even though meat is allowed in a gluten free diet, fried foods typically always gluten based batters. Gluten free diets revolve around vegetables, specific grains, corn, rice, and potatoes. Since the diet emphasizes eating vegetables, and non-fried, healthier meats, the diet appears to be more feminine. Websites like glutenfreegirl.com  do exist, on the contrary there is not a gluten free man website.
retrived from 
by Dylan Essig
(1)Sapone, Anna, Karen M. Lammers, Giuseppe Mazzarella, Irina Mikhailenko, Maria Cartenì, Vincenzo Casolaro, and Alessio Fasano. "Differential Mucosal IL-17 Expression in Two Gliadin-Induced Disorders: Gluten Sensitivity and the Autoimmune Enteropathy Celiac Disease." International Archives of Allergy and Immunology 152.1 (2010): 75-80.
(2)Rewers, M. "Epidemiology of Celiac Disease: What Are the Prevalence, Incidence, and Progression of Celiac Disease?" Gastroenterology 128.4 (2005): S47-51
(3)Van Heel, D. A. "Recent Advances in Coeliac Disease." Gut 55.7 (2006): 1037-046. Print.
(4)"Medical and Weight Loss Benefit of Gluten-free Diet." Gluten Free Diet. 2010. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <>.
(5)Cromley, Janet. "Going Gluten-free -- for Many Reasons." Los Angeles Times 7 July 2008. Print.
(6)Dwyer, Bruce. "Celiac Age Sex Demographics." Gluten Free Pages. Web. [<http://www.glutenfreepages.com.au/CMS/index.php?page=celiac-age-sex-profile>]
(7)Adams, Carol. The Sexual Politics of Meat, A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. New York: Contiuum, 1990.