May is Celiac Awareness month!
Prior to 2010, I was plagued with almost constant brain fog, inability to concentrate for long stretches, fatigue, and some other random things that didn’t seem connected at the time. Was I actually sick? Was it all in my head? I wanted answers!
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What is celiac disease?
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is not contagious (I have heard of people thinking it’s a communicable disease, so let’s clear that up right now; it’s not). Untreated, it can lead to life long problems. Fortunately, it is treatable! As there is no medication, it is treated with a 100% gluten free diet.
I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2010 and I was so grateful to have a name for all my symptoms. Once I switched to a truly gluten free diet, my health greatly improved. I was no longer so stressed at work because I could finally function as normal person. My brain fog cleared and my energy started to return. Travel finally seemed possible… though I took time to have my babies first.
So, I have celiac disease. So what? Why write about it on a family travel blog?
Since my diagnosis, I’ve realized a few things. The first is that a lot of people and families struggle with food restrictions. Shortly before I left my job, another person in my group had been diagnosed with celiac. Since then, quite a few families I’ve met have restrictions gluten for various reasons.
Second, meals are so very important socially. People come together for meals as family units, for parties, for dates, etc. It really sucks to go to a party and be unable to eat; yet, it feels far worse to be the one asking for special food. For kids, it’s especially alienating to be unable to eat what others are eating.
Please don’t mock, even though it’s a popular thing to do
Even though gluten avoidance has become a fad to mock, to those of us with real, medically defined problems with gluten, this fad has had huge benefits. Gluten free donuts exist. They are only an occasional treat for me, but they exist! GF bread costs 2 or 3 times as much as regular bread, but again, it exists AND has come down in price. Items have better labeling. Chex is gluten free (only the rice and corn flavors). Restaurants are starting to understand the perils of cross contamination and will let you know upfront if they can provide that level of service.
Another reason I talk about celiac disease
Wanting to travel while being celiac or having a child with celiac seems daunting. Even though celiac disease isn’t the focus of this blog, it is a major part of my life. Families traveling with a gluten restriction can benefit from this information, so I include it here whenever applicable!
Thanks for your pursuit of knowledge!
If you read this, not knowing what celiac is, thank you for taking the time to learn! It is estimated that 83% or 1.4 million Americans with celiac disease don’t know it! That translates to a lot of people living a particularly tough life that has reasonably easy solution and they don’t know it.
Do you know anyone with celiac disease or do you have it yourself? Do you travel even with that celiac diagnoses?