Eating—in any place—is not easy for our family, but eating out is even more difficult. Both Sherman and Christiana have celiac disease, which is an autoimmune response to gluten, found in wheat, rye, barley, and some oats. It’s hard enough to avoid foods that you know contain gluten without adding in the factor that gluten is often used as a filler.

Celiac disease is one of those underdiagnosed diseases since only about 10% of the population exhibits the classic symptoms—you know, feeling sick to the stomach pretty quickly after eating gluten. When a person with celiac disease doesn’t follow a gluten-free diet, he or she is opening the door to much more serious diseases, such as the other autoimmune diseases or even colon cancer or lymphoma. If nothing else, people who eat gluten when they shouldn’t are prone to depression, mood changes, irritability, and attention problems.

Part of the problem in getting a diagnosis is that symptoms are so varied. Sherman was diagnosed in his mid-40s because he was rejected as a blood donor a couple times for anemia. Since anemia in men is often related to a serious health condition, like colon cancer, he was referred to his doctor. Long story, short, he was diagnosed about 3 ½ years ago. But looking back, he’s pretty sure he’s had this for much of his life (celiac disease can go into periods of remission but it never goes away for good.)

Christiana was diagnosed last year at 15—and it’s been a very long year for her. She’s had to give up many of the foods she’s loved. But sometimes the bigger factor is how little access there is to food, unless she’s at home or has really planned ahead.

What teenager wants to be at home all the time or think ahead all the time? Spontaneity is what that period of life is often about. And that includes eating with friends without planning ahead—and often without thinking about calories or any other factors. Kids share things like pizza, donuts, muffins, cookies, and cakes, often on a whim. School groups and sports teams get food together for rewards, motivation, or relaxation.

Just in the last couple weeks Christiana has had a couple of her out-to-eat options pared down. Last weekend we struck out twice. First, Deby’s Gluten-Free Bakery and Cafe had just gone to wholesale operations only. And then Noodles & Company told her that the cheese sauce she’s had on her rice noodles there includes gluten.

Just as doctors are becoming more aware of the various symptoms of celiac disease and are doing a much better job of diagnosing more individuals with the disease, we need more dining options, not fewer.

There must be business benefits to providing food for this growing market. In the past few years a Colorado restaurant, Beau Jo’s Pizza, added a gluten-free menu (thank to a partnership with Deby’s products) and draws many “mixed” families, feeding both those who need gluten-free food and those who eat from their regular menu.

So, on Saturday when once again Christiana was faced with going hungry, as another restaurant did not offer something simple like corn tortillas, we walked over to Beau Jo’s for a little comfort food. She got a huge slice of cake (made by Deby’s), which put some smiles back on her face. But it wasn’t the meal she wanted or needed—all she wanted was a quesadilla made from corn versus flour tortillas.

I do hope that the pen (keyboard!) is mightier than the sword because it’s time for me to do battle, nicely, of course, in the name of my family members and all those others who just want to be able to do something most of us take for granted.

Finding something to eat shouldn’t have to be so hard.