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Whether it's due to Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivities or intolerances, wheat allergies, or a Paleo diet, a great many people are eating gluten-free these days. With the carb-loaded, stuffing-infused, food-focused holiday of Thanksgiving (and then the winter holidays!) fast approaching, it feels like a good time to look at some gluten-free recipes the whole family can enjoy.
It seems that everywhere we go these days, there are more and more gluten-free options. And that's a very good thing. Far from being the latest food fad, gluten-free diets are actually life-changing and even life-saving for some people. But there's a lot of confusion out there about what gluten is, who should be eating gluten-free, and why these dietary changes are helpful. Today, for National Celiac Awareness Day, we're breaking down the Celiac and gluten basics.
One in every 133 Americans has Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack itself in response to gluten exposure. This means people with Celiac cannot eat anything containing gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Some people with Celiac Disease also find that they cannot tolerate trans-dermal (through the skin) exposure to gluten, either, which means they must be vigilant about checking the ingredients in every soap, shampoo, lotion, and cosmetic before using it, as many of these common toiletries use gluten as a binding agent.
Did you know that having Celiac Disease is not the same as having a gluten allergy? It’s also different from a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, despite the fact that the treatments for these increasingly common issues are fairly similar. The main way to manage Celiac Disease, gluten allergies, and gluten intolerances or sensitivities is to remove all gluten from the diet, which is easier said than done, as gluten is widely used and can easily be ingested due to cross-contamination during food preparation. Just ask Amber, a high school student and Lauren’s Hope customer, who has been living a gluten-free life for over a year now.
“I screen my food more than most people could ever imagine. Even a crumb, a contaminated cutting board, or someone drinking out of my glass can (and has) made me sick!” says Cynthia Green, one of our very own bracelet designers who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2007.Celiac Disease is a lifelong autoimmune condition. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten (like the foods listed above), it creates a toxic reaction that damages the small intestine and doesn’t allow food to be absorbed properly. Gluten is the name of a protein that is found in wheat and related grains, and is very harmful to certain people. The only real treatment for Celiac Disease is a strict, gluten-free diet.However, eating gluten-free doesn’t have to lower quality of life. People with Celiac Disease can often eat the same things other people eat, if they can find a gluten-free alternative. Thanks to companies who make gluten-free substitutions for dietary staples, people with Celiac Disease are able to lead normal, healthy lives.“I have learned to make my most favorite foods gluten-free, and I know it doesn't do any good to feel sorry for myself! Having a good attitude, though it's hard right after diagnosis, makes a big difference,” Cynthia advises. “After some culinary experimenting, I get along just fine and don't even think about what I'm ‘missing’ as I make yummy dinners for me and my family.”Since switching to a gluten-free diet, Cynthia says she has had more energy, has become more active, and has lost weight. She has met and formed relationships with people who share her condition. In fact, one of her gluten-free friends introduced her to the man that would later become her husband!“Having Celiac Disease is definitely life-changing, but not necessarily negative. You never know what good things it will bring to your life as well. For me, it brought the two things that matter the most to me: my health and my new family.”If you are sensitive to gluten or suffer from Celiac Disease or a wheat allergy, you should engrave that information on a medical ID tag to alert medical personnel to your condition. Check with your doctor to see what they recommend you have engraved on your medical ID. Here are a few examples of what you could engrave on your medical ID tag if you have Celiac Disease:
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