As I was pounding out my frustrations on the treadmill this morning (it’s the end of the semester…), I was thinking about the differences between when I first went gluten-free over 9 years ago and now. The change is astonishing!
What has led to this great change?
In 2003, Dr. Alessio Fasano published his research study showing that 1 in every 103 Americans actually have Celiac Disease. Those of us who were already diagnosed took this information and worked hard to disseminate it. The Gluten Intolerance Group of North Texas, as well as many other support groups, put together packets of information to take to gastroenterologists, family doctors, obstetricians, neurologists, nutritionists, and other medical professionals.
Gluten-free products became tastier and more widely available. This is part of a giant circle of life, actually. As products become more available and more palatable, the consumers spend more money on them. The more money we spend, the more companies take notice and create better products. The more products…
Even though celebrities going gluten-free can sometimes be a giant thorn in our side (they often don’t really know what they are talking about), each one that jumps on the gluten-free horse increases the amount of awareness.
You now even see/hear the random “gluten-free” comment being thrown around in movies, tv shows, novels, etc. We love all things Rick Riordan in our house, and at one point in the Heroes of Olympus series, even the goddess Iris gets on the gluten-free bandwagon and gives Percy Jackson some gluten-free cupcakes. When Braden first read that, he commented that Iris needed to take some baking lessons from me.
Each one of you, every time you tell someone about being gluten-free, having Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance, are increasing the awareness. In turn, it leads to more people getting diagnosed and no longer having to suffer. Increased availability of gluten-free products and restaurants that cater to the gluten-free crowd are more great effects of awareness.
What are some ways you can spread awareness this month?
- Wear a gluten-free t-shirt or bracelet.
- Take a batch of gluten-free cookies to work with a note inviting someone to talk to you to “find out more about National Celiac Awareness Month”.
- Wear green. A lot. Someone might just ask you why you’ve been wearing green for 2 weeks straight. (Just make sure you wash your clothes. )
- Get some restaurants involved in the Chef to Plate campaign. This is a grass-roots campaign to increase awareness in restaurants, not just for the restaurants themselves, but to the customers who dine there throughout the month. Participating restaurants put up signs in the restaurant about Celiac Disease, and some even put them on each table.
- Give a talk/speech/lecture on Celiac Disease (it could even be informal).
I have heard at least a few of the “Celiac doctors” say that if they had to have a chronic condition and were given the choice, they would always choose Celiac Disease. If you are newly diagnosed, you might think it is a little insane. However, if you understand that as long as you keep the gluten out of your body you will be as healthy as “normal” people and that this is not a disease that requires medication or injections (or invasive treatments, etc.), then you will understand why these doctors feel this way.
So let’s all make a concerted effort to spread awareness during May, National Celiac Disease Month. I’ll start with this post…