About the Gluten-Free Life:
Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, barley, rye and some other grains. Some people must eat Gluten-Free because they have Celiac’s disease. Some others have an allergy to wheat specifically, and it is just easier to cut out all gluten. And some more have a condition called “non-celiac’s gluten intolerance” which is only recently being accepted by the medical community.
For Celiac’s disease alone-- 1 of 133 people in the US have celiac, and over 90% don't know it. About 30% of the population has at least one of the genes for celiac disease, and could develop the active disease at any time in their life. You probably know several people with celiac disease and some may not be aware they have it. Diagnosis in the USA takes on average about 9 years.
Symptoms include GI distress, inflammation, joint pain, and fatigue. Also, if you know someone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, thyroid disease, arthritis, or any other autoimmune condition, suggest they get tested for celiac disease, and/or try a gluten-free diet. You may save their life!
How to be a good “Gluten-Free” friend!
Do--- know that a gluten free diet isn't a fad or a weight loss tool - it's a necessary medical treatment.
Don't-- offer us "just one bite" of that treat or tell us "you can cheat this time". Sorry, we really, really can't.
Do-- invite us to do things: we still want to hang even if we can't have a beer with you (most beer has gluten).
Don't-- offer us home baked goodies--- even if the treat was cooked without gluten, if it was made in a kitchen that has flour in it, it truly isn't safe for us.
Do-- look for certified Gluten-Free packaged treats for your Gluten-Free friend and maybe keep one or two stocked.
Don’t--- tell us worrying about cross-contamination is "going overboard". Seriously, if you touch our food after eating a sandwich, we WILL get sick. If we pick the croutons off of our salad, we WILL get sick. If we just eat the pie filling and skip the crust, we WILL get sick. If our partner kisses us without brushing their teeth after eating pizza, we WILL get sick.
Do-- plan on dining somewhere that has a Gluten-Free menu when you eat out so your friend does not feel out of place.
Don’t—reuse plate or swap utensils at a salad bar or buffet.
Do-- stop trying to feed us! The world will not end if we bring our own dinner!
Don’t-- think it's the end of the world to be gluten free. There is still lots of food we can eat.
Do--- know that I cannot "reverse" my gluten intolerance by eating small amounts of it
Don't-- tell us that that you wouldn't be able to handle our situation because you "would just DIE without breads and cakes" - we get it, you like bread. So did we once. It turns out to be a lot less tempting when it makes you sick.
Do—know that even though it is called a disease, we are not sick (once we have recovered from gluten damage). We will only be sick if we eat gluten. And it is not contagious.
With thanks to members of the www.celiac.com forum community who suggested many of these statements.
National Digestive Disease Information Clearing House: http://digestive.nid...es/pubs/celiac/