Choosing where to eat among the many options in Harvard Square can be challenging. The decision is even more difficult for those with dietary restrictions.
In the past few decades, doctors have started to diagnose celiac disease—an autoimmune disease related to gluten—at greater rates, and researchers have theorized that causes of the disease may be genetic.
Now, Harvard Square eateries are making a push to better serve their gluten-intolerant customers.
The Harvard Square Business Association lists on its website eateries that are swapping out wheat for gluten-free ingredients.
"We started seeing a huge influx of people asking for [gluten-free options] really about three years ago," said Anthony S. Ackil '99, co-owner of b.good, which offers gluten-free buns, salads, and fries.
When Rachel E. Halperin '16 discovered her gluten-intolerance earlier this semester, she found multiple places to accommodate her needs in the Square, noting that Finale, J.P. Licks, and Panera all have gluten-free menus.
"Part of eating out gluten-free is just being creative and knowing what you can and can't eat," Halperin said.
She stressed the importance of also being aware of a restaurant's less visible uses of gluten, such as thickening soups or salad dressings with flour.
Courtney M. Forrester, owner of Sweet Cupcakes, explained that guaranteeing gluten-free treats is nearly impossible in a traditional baking environment. Sweet does, however, carry four flavors from the dedicated gluten-free bakery Glutenus Minimus in Belmont, Mass.
UpStairs on the Square started offering gluten-free pizza and is working to expand its gluten-free options, co-owner Mary-Catherine Deibel said.
Deibel said she sees it as part of a restaurant's "mission to extend hospitality" to accommodate gluten-free customers like Halperin.
"On any given day, we encounter a lot of different dietary restrictions," she said. "I think any restaurant really needs to address that."