Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Welcome to Celiac Awareness Month

While it's important to spread awareness all year, I love that there's a dedicated month to focus efforts on educating people about celiac disease and gluten intolerance.  Since we discovered my son's issues with gluten over two years ago, I've discovered just how big and supportive the gluten free community is.  I've connected with so many people who are either gluten free themselves or supporting someone who is, that it's like having a whole second family.  In the midst of dealing with something that isn't always easy, the community of support is certainly a bright spot. 

There's a lot of misinformation out there about celiac, gluten intolerance and wheat allergies.  There are questions about the connection between Celiac, Down Syndrome, and Autism.  There are misconceptions about what exactly constitutes a gluten free diet.  There have been disappointing and even misleading stories in the media lately, causing frustration and possibly even leading people to make decisions based on incorrect information. 

This month is our chance to help set the record straight.  To share resources, tell personal stories, and offer suggestions for making living gluten free easier. 

Some Resources

Canadian Celiac Association
Celiac Sprue Association
Mayo Clinic
University of Chicago Celiac Disease Centre
Association of European Coeliac Societies
Asistencia al Celíaco de la Argentina
Celíacos y Sensibles al Gluten de El Salvador
Celíacos de Costa Rica Página Facebook

Those are just a few of the many associations and support groups worldwide with resources and information for those who need to live gluten free. 


May is also a great month to get out and join an activity to support Celiac Awareness month.  If you're in Ontario, think about checking out Mondays in May Right to Safe Food Fundraiser at Turtle Jack's Muskoka Grill.  
The Canadian Celiac Association's website describes the event:

"Each Monday in May, people are encouraged to dine at participating Turtle Jack’s restaurants to support the work of the Canadian Celiac Association. Customers will use coupons to indicate their support of the fundraiser and the restaurant will donate 25% of each bill to the Right to Safe Food Program.

Turtle Jack’s restaurants have worked with members of the Canadian Celiac Association to implement procedures to educate their staff and managers on the intricacies of preparing and serving gluten free food. A new gluten free menu has been launched. These efforts have created a safe place to enjoy delicious gluten free menu choices for people who must eat gluten free."

It's encouraging to see a restaurant do gluten free safely, with support from an organization that can knows how important it is that gluten free food truly be gluten free, right down to preparation practices.  To donate 25% of the bill to the Canadian Celiac Association on top of that is fantastic.  I know where I'm eating next Monday night!

This month is a time for awareness and advocacy for sure, but it's also a time to connect.  If you're new to this diet, reach out to someone who's been living it for a while.  Most people are happy to help.  If you've been gluten free for a while, reach out to someone who may be struggling with it.  Support organizations that provide services, research and support, and establishments that take gluten free seriously.  Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are serious, but it is possible to enjoy life and eat well on a gluten free diet. 

The reason we're gluten free!

What are your plans for Celiac Awareness month?

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