By: Lynsey Cohen.
Thanks to a curious nationwide increase in the number of kids with celiac disease as well as non-celiac gluten sensitivities, finding truly gluten-free pizza is no longer a constant battle. Today, most popular pizza chains in every region of the country offer at least one such option, although the gluten-free movement is not without its controversies. If your kids have become accustomed to the uncomfortable side effects of gluten-heavy pizza, fear not. Read on to find a healthier choice near you.
Why Choose Gluten-Free Pizza?
You’ve probably heard several theories concerning the steady rise in childhood celiac diag-noses. Part of the reason for this is simply that doctors are now on the lookout for the specific combination of diarrhea, chronic nausea, and malnutrition that characterizes the typical case of celiac disease. But that’s not all. The next time you remind your child to wash his or her hands, remember this: The leading theory on celiac’s new-found prevalence is that it’s the result of the “ultra-clean,” sanitized environments to which we expose our children from birth.
Apparently, kids need a little dirt in their daily routine in order for their immune systems to develop properly. If they don’t get it, their bodies may mistake innocuous things like gluten par-ticles for malicious invaders. This theory makes a lot of sense when you consider that celiac dis-ease and even less-serious forms of gluten sensitivity are virtually non-existent in developing countries with lower sanitation standards. In any event, normal pizza crust contains plenty of glu-ten, so make sure you research each gluten-free restaurant option carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions of the manager on duty.
By far the biggest chain offering gluten-free pizza at the moment, Domino’s makes its potato-based crust fresh to order. This sounds like a great deal until you listen to the noise surrounding the chain’s decision to go gluten-free. “GREAT (Gluten-Free Resource Education and Awareness Training) Kitchens Amber Designation,” the nation’s largest advocacy group for folks with celiac disease and other gluten sensitivities, has given Domino’s a resounding thumbs-down due to the potential for cross-contamination during preparation; essentially, Domino’s prepares all its pizzas, gluten and gluten-free on the same counters and with the same utensils.
Chuck E. Cheese
Family-friendly Chuck E. Cheese recently rolled out a gluten-free option in a few Minnesota restaurants. The chain says it’s responding to popular demand, and it’s leaving nothing to chance. Unlike Domino’s crusts, Chuck E. Cheese’s gluten-free dough is produced in a special facility, which reduces cross-contamination risk.
Fresh Brothers has been gluten-free since 2008. Their gluten-free doughs are produced and rolled separately from regular product, but they are baked in a communal oven, so contamination is technically possible. GREAT gives them a higher rating than Domino’s, though.
Godfather’s plays up the variety and availability of its gluten-free crusts: You can choose from six topping options any time at any location. They maintain a secure chain of custody for their crusts as well, earning props from GREAT for doing so.
If you or someone you love has recently been diagnosed with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, your family’s mealtimes have probably lost a lot of their luster. The good news is that you’re not alone. With careful planning and a positive attitude, you can find plenty of healthy, tasty gluten-free options that won’t put you in the poorhouse. After all, what do kids love more than pizza?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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