Tomorrow is Celiac Awareness Day so what does that mean? I am pretty outspoken on the topic so those of you that know me well will probably say “yes, we’ve heard all of this before, Angela, you can stop it now” but for those of you that don’t hear me a lot, listen up.
First, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease. This means that I don’t puff up, start wheezing or have other allergy type reactions. This means that my body is destroying itself, even if you can’t see it. It means that when I eat that piece of bread my insides are attacking itself, the villi are dying and my body isn’t absorbing nutrients. Repeated ingestion of gluten, even a little bit, can cause severe damage. So please don’t tell me that “a little bit can’t hurt”. It can. A lot. It can hurt just like a little peanut could cause death in a person with a peanut allergy, it’s just not that immediate.
Second, it’s more common than you think. 1 in every 133 people has Celiac Disease and most don’t know it. Why? Because most doctors are taught that not many people have it so it’s misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s Disease or some other intestinal disease. A lot of doctors don’t know the first thing about Celiac Disease so they are hesitant to test for it and hesitant to tell someone how to live with it. Honestly, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease almost four years ago and my doctor told me that as long as I didn’t have symptoms, I could go on with life normally. My doctor was WRONG and not having the information they needed could have caused me long term, maybe deathly, damage. Was it their fault? Probably not. Either way, I ate “normally” for over two years before I had “symptoms” and probably caused more damage than was needed.
Third, if you have a direct family member with Celiac Disease, your chances go up to 1 in 5-22%. That is a significant increase so if you have a family member with Celiac Disease, do yourself a favor and get tested.
Fourth, Celiac Disease doesn’t discriminate. No matter your sex, your color, or your age, you can have Celiac Disease. We have people in our group, Gluten Free Grand Valley, that are in their 70’s and some that were diagnosed when they were just a few months old.
There is so much more but I’m going to stop there and let you do some reading. If you want to know more facts on Celiac Disease, you can find more information on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness website. They are thorough and have great, up to date info for you to peruse.
One more thing…my website is pretty well decked out in a light green. This green represents Celiac Disease Awareness. You will see me wear a ribbon in this color in May and also tomorrow and will always see it on my blog. I hope that you will join me in wearing a light shade of green tomorrow to represent this day and bring awareness to this disease.