Business — along with the dough — is rising at Trillium Bakery where customers like Sheryn Sauve are flocking to buy freshly-baked goods that are gluten-free.
“I have an allergy to gluten that I just found out that I’ve got,” said Sauve.
But not everyone lining up for a loaf, brownie, or cookie has celiac disease, or a wheat allergy.
The owners of the bakery said about half of the people buying gluten-free products don’t necessarily need it.
“Lately, what I’ve seen in the last two years is a great big movement towards trying to cut your gluten products down or out of your diet, and see if you feel better,” said co-owner Jocelyn LeRoy.
“It’s unfortunately become a fad,” said Quintin Wight from the Ottawa chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association, adding nearly 1% of the population is affected by the disease.
Gluten refers to the storage proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, barley and triticale, said Wight.
Eating gluten if you have celiac disease can damage the inner lining of the small bowel which reduces the ability to absorb nutrients like iron, folate, calcium, Vitamin D, protein, fat and other food compounds, according to Health Canada’s website.
Sauve said she was referred to gluten-free products by a naturopath and an osteopathic doctor.
“I have fibromyalgia, arthritis, and some joint problems and they felt one of my problems was the gluten. So I’m eliminating that from my diet to see if that will help,” she said.
“I don’t think necessarily it’s all that bad but it is definitely very bad for many people,” said the bakery’s co-owner Jocelyn LeRoy.
The bakery opened 31 years ago, and LeRoy said they’ve always catered to people with special dietary needs: Sugar-free; salt-free; yeast-free; wheat-free.
LeRoy said back then, only celiac customers came in asking for gluten-free goodies.
“In the beginning, we used to make one type of muffin. We had one or two types of cookies. And that would generally make people quite pleased that were coming in and couldn’t get gluten-free items anywhere,” said Jocelyn’s son and co-owner Mike LeRoy.
Now, thanks to a recent wellness trend, the bakery sells more than 50 gluten-free items.
“Between 20 and 40 people come in each day asking for gluten-free products,” Jocelyn said.