More and more people are taking steps to avoid gluten in their food. Some of this is because of true allergies or celiac disease; sometimes, it's people who have decided that they have a sensitivity to gluten or feel better when they avoid it, whether or not they actually have a gluten allergy.
Gluten is a protein produced by grains like wheat or barley, and it causes very bad digestive reactions in people with an allergy to the ingredient. Some people can tolerate very small amounts, other people get terribly sick from even a tiny bit.
The good news is, if you have someone you cook for who is gluten sensitive, it's getting easier all the time to find good blogs, books and products devoted to the gluten-free lifestyle. Most big supermarkets will have a selection of gluten-free breads and other grain-based products, and you can find a lot of gluten-free foods by mail order online as well. More and more brands are reformatting their products to be gluten-free.
If you're interested in trying gluten-free meals just to see if it has an effect on your health, start by cutting out wheat-based foods. That doesn't mean saying goodbye to starch, though; you can enjoy potatoes, rice, quinoa, and things made from corn like tortillas. Check labels on dairy foods; most are gluten-free although some additives may not be. And meat, fish, tofu, etc. are all gluten-free and good sources of protein. Vegetables and fruit are gluten-free as well.
Unfortunately, gluten can lurk a lot of places you're not expecting. Salad dressing, soy sauce, broth, vinegar and more can all have gluten in them; unless one of these products is marked "gluten-free," assume they are not safe for people sensitive to gluten.
Gluten-free cooking can be a more complicated, but it can have big payoffs for the whole family, even those who aren't gluten sensitive. So many good-for-you foods are gluten-free that it can help nudge your diet to all the good foods you should be eating more of anyway.
Are you a gluten-free cook?