Friday, March 4, 2011

Gluten issues are everywhere

Before learning of my son's issues with gluten, I'd never really given much thought to the issue of gluten free living or how many people suffered from dietary issues related to it.  Since October, I've become aware of just how prevalent gluten intolerance and/or celiac disease really are.  Every time the topic comes up in conversation in relation to my son, the person I'm talking to either has an issue with gluten or knows someone who does.

This is both encouraging and disappointing. 

I'm encouraged because it shows me that there are others out there navigating the same dietary obstacles that my son faces.  When I hear celebrities discuss going gluten free, even when it is simply a lifestyle choice and not a medical one I hope that the trend will help spur more companies to produce gluten free options and that more restaurants will follow suit.  When I meet someone with the same issues it also gives me reason to believe that more awareness will mean that my son will not be the only one in his class who can't share the communal birthday cake or who can't eat the majority of the Valentine's Day or Halloween candy that he'll receive.  That getting gluten free alternatives will be mainstream.  I hope that I won't always have to provide all of his food on every play date or sleep over that he ever attends.

On the other hand, I can't help but be disappointed every time I hear that someone else is affected with digestive issues because of gluten.  I wonder if the number is on the rise, and if the increasing amount of products that unnecessarily contain gluten are contributing to an overload that our bodies struggle to handle.  It also makes me upset because I know that in North America it generally takes years before someone with celiac is finally diagnosed.  We were lucky to realize what was causing our son's digestive problems so early.  I feel frustrated that so many others suffer for so long before getting relief. 

I've approached gluten free (and dairy free) living in a positive way, grateful that I'm able to positively impact our son's health in a relatively simple manner.  But I am also aware that I'm an adult, approaching this from an adult's perspective, where dietary restrictions or preferences won't make me an object of teasing, or make me feel different or left out.  I'd be lying if I said I'm not concerned about how my son is going to handle it in a few years when the pressure of fitting in and being like everyone else is strong.  So although I'm not encouraged by the seeming increase in gluten issues in the general population, I am excited about the attention the issue seems to be receiving lately.  It's up to everyone affected to ensure that the issue remains in the public eye.

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