MCLEAN, Va. (WUSA9)-- It is a dietary trend being embraced by more and more Americans: going gluten-free. Some people are sensitive or allergic to gluten, the protein in wheat, barley and rye. The most severe end of that spectrum is Celiac Disease, and people with this disorder need to avoid gluten entirely. The FDA recently issued new standards food products need to meet to be marketed as "gluten-free."
But even people who don't have Celiac Disease are embracing this lifestyle in greater numbers. Restaurants, magazines, grocery stores... all are moving to embrace the trend.
"We used to get three or four customers a day. Now, we get twelve to fifteen, looking for a gluten-free menu," says executive chef Eddie Ishaq of Wildfire Restaurant in Tyson's Galleria.
The chef says not only did they add gluten-free recipes, they altered existing ones slightly to meet the criteria, including Wildfire's signature chopped salad.
"There could be one ingredient out of twelve that's holding it back from being gluten-free. So we take that out and make it gluten-free," explains Ishaq.
Other items on the special gluten-free menu at Wildfire include mac and cheese, shrimp pasta, pizza and gluten-free cookies. All are made separately from other foods with gluten-free pastas and flours to prevent cross-contamination.
The growing popularity of the trend is reflected in the success of Delight Gluten-Free Magazine, which its executive editor Vanessa Weisbrod says is seeing a surge in readers, while other publications are struggling.
Weisbrod says it's easier to keep a gluten-free lifestyle than ever before. "There are (a lot of) things that people might think wouldn't exist for those living a gluten-free lifestyle...like pop tarts, biscuits, pie crust and bagel chips even. There's just such a variety of products on the market today," she says.
Watch a demonstration of Wildfire's Chef Eddie Isaq whip up a gluten-free pizza with WUSA9's Anita Brikman by clicking the video link on the left side of this article.