I get it, gluten-free diners only make up a small percentage of the population. I know the statistics by heart:
- Only 1 in 133 people, or one percent of the population in the United States, have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and deters absorption of nutrients from food.
This means that 99 percent of the population doesn’t have celiac disease.
I can see a restaurant owner thinking, “Why in the world would I cater to one percent of the population when 99 percent of the population matters more to me?”
Again, I get it.
Yet, I think this kind of small thinking is flawed. Very flawed.
Here’s why I think restaurant owners should pay careful attention to what the gluten-free diners on doing – and especially where they are choosing to eat:
The Gluten-Free Diner Makes the Restaurant Pick:
Think you’ll only affect one percent of the population’s dining decisions? Think again!
The person with the food allergy or dietary restriction more likely than not dictates where their family and friends eat out every single time. I promise you this is the case!
Everytime I go out to eat with my friends and family, I am asked to select the restaurant or give restaurant options. Everyone wants to make sure I’m cared for as no one wants to dine out when they know their friend is not being properly taken care of. In fact, when you cater to the one percent of people dealing with celiac disease, you often cater to a party of four, eight, 10 or more people on any given night. Now that is suddenly worth paying attention to, right?!?
The Gluten-Free Community Is Growing:
The gluten-free community is no longer just people on a gluten-free diet because they have celiac disease. Instead, a growing number of people with gluten-sensitivities avoid gluten for health reasons, as do people on the autoimmune spectrum. Experts estimate that six to seven percent of the U.S. population, or 18+ million people, are avoiding gluten due to a gluten sensitivity.
Gluten-Free Diners Talk:
The gluten-free community is a noisy bunch. We like to share (with our friends) about restaurants that treat us right, and we have no qualms about telling our fellow gluten-free diners to stay away from restaurants doing it wrong. We have gluten-free dining apps, like Find Me Gluten Free, to help us stay on top of safe places to eat. A good review in a gluten-free dining app will bring you plenty of business over the years as us gluten-free diners consult our gluten-free dining apps often!
Gluten-Free Diners are Not Going Away:
I know I like to eat out – and I also know that restaurants are competing for my hard earned money in order to survive this competitive restaurant landscape. In an age where it seems like everyone is avoiding some kind of food, restaurants cannot afford to alienate diners with special needs.
Gluten-free diners are not going away (sorry, gluten-free is NOT a fad), and their influence is going to grow. Plus, with the invention of the Nima Sensor, more gluten-free diners feel empowered to eat out again as they will be able to test their food for gluten before consuming it… another incentive for restaurants to get gluten-free right!
Yes, the Gluten-Free Community Matters!
Remember, when a restaurant caters to the one percent of people with celiac disease, and the restaurant does it right, it is affecting way more than just one percent of the population; rather, it is affecting where that person’s entire social circle and circle of influence eats.
Perhaps gluten-free diners are worth paying attention to now?
Eating Out Gluten-Free
Struggling to eat out safely on your gluten-free diet? Read my ebook, Eating Out Gluten Free. I share every single thing I know about eating out safely while on a gluten-free diet.
NOTE: This article was updated January 2018