Friday, August 14, 2015

Gluten-free foods are no joke

Today I found something attached to my screen door: A menu for a new pizza place. Ordinarily, I’d throw that stuff out, but the name of the pizza place grabbed me so I decided to look over the menu. Some of the choices looked pretty good and I was thinking of trying one or two of the pizzas on that menu sometime. Then something on their menu caught my eye: A claim that almost all of their pizzas are gluten-free. I sorta rejoiced over this, grateful that yet another food establishment is FINALLY recognizing how important it is to include foods that are gluten-free.

But why should I even care about that sorta thing? Because someone in my family almost got to a point where gluten became a “big deal.” That someone is my daughter.

Some time ago, my daughter, Jennifer, became ill. We were not able to figure out what was wrong and none of the medicines we gave to her helped. So, I took her to the doctor to find out what was wrong. After he examined her and she talked to him about her symptoms, he ordered a round of tests to be done. One of those tests was to see if she had Celiac Disease. When I saw that, I was puzzled. I was not sure what exactly Celiac Disease was. I have heard of it, but I didn’t know what it was. I got some feedback about it through my Facebook friends but I also did A LOT of research about it on my own. I came to find out that Celiac Disease meant someone who could not digest gluten, which is found in wheat. I was stunned to realize that this was a very real thing affecting a lot of people. All this time, I thought “gluten-free foods” was a joke. I did not think it was really important to remove gluten from foods. But this experience was a huge wake-up call and I was further surprised to learn that a relative has Celiac Disease. I realized that it is Very Important to remove gluten from foods because there really ARE people who cannot digest gluten or are even allergic to it. To say the least, my research on this sort of thing really opened my eyes to how important it is to have gluten-free foods. Seriously, this is no joke.

Well, the good news is that my daughter tested negative for Celiac Disease. But the whole experience made me more sensitive to people who are allergic to gluten and even those who have Celiac. Now I see all those “gluten-free” foods in the stores and I am grateful they are there!

And I think we need to spread more awareness about gluten-free foods, too. Today, when I was checking out a bunch of recipe boards on Pinterest, I didn’t see any that were specifically for gluten-free foods. For this reason, I decided to create a Gluten Free Foods & Info board on my own Pinterest account. You can find it here.

This was the first time I created a Pinterest board that didn’t have ANYTHING to do with my own interests, lifestyle, diet or personal situation. But I wanted to create the board all the same, because I personally have realized just how important it is for there to be gluten-free foods.

But it seems like a lot of people don’t really understand the full scope of the whole “gluten-free” thing.

Later on in the day, I was sitting on the couch with Jesse while he was watching one of his shows. In this particular episode, a character was trying to find out if she had a gluten allergy. At her doctor’s appointment, her doctor told her that her test results showed she was not allergic to gluten, and that he had suspected as much because, as he said, he reminded her that she told him she liked spaghetti.

THIS really irritated me. I guess the writer for that episode DID NOT do his/her homework! I rolled my eyes and grumbled, “There is gluten-free pasta.”

It’s this kind of disinformation about gluten intolerance that REALLY makes it important to spread the word about gluten and the kinds of gluten-free foods available on the market. Being allergic to gluten is not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean you can’t eat anything at all anymore. Yes, gluten is in a lot of foods, but you know what? There are a lot of gluten-free foods out there, too. A person with a gluten allergy can still eat spaghetti thanks to food companies producing gluten-free foods. We need more of them, I think. Until we knew my daughter’s test results, I took a really good look at just how much gluten-free foods were available at stores and just how lacking some stores and restaurants were in making gluten-free foods available to consumers.

Gluten allergy is a very real thing. Gluten-free foods are no joke. There are actually people out there who need those kinds of foods because they really CANNOT digest gluten. So I think we need more stores and more restaurants recognizing this sort of thing that is something that we need right along with low-sodium foods, and these places need to start working harder to make sure those kinds of foods are available.

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