May is Celiac Awareness Month

Being truly gluten-free can be a challenge even when you prepare all your own food (after a year and a half of being GF, I’m STILL finding new hidden gluten ingredients in food)! But going out to eat can sometimes seem nearly impossible due to hidden gluten ingredients and cross-contamination. So when I read this very interesting article, I was excited to see that awareness of Celiac Disease is exponentially growing and that (at least in New York State) there’s a proposed bill addressing the preparation of food state owned and/or leased cafeterias.

In this article New York Senator Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn), discusses Celiac Disease and, most interestingly, an introduction of two bills. The second bill, S.7460, may help anyone with food allergies or sensitivities by posting all information regarding the gluten content of foods being served. Here’s a partial reposting of the article, the bits I thought were interesting as it applies to anyone following a gluten-free diet:


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Celiac Disease causes damage to the lining of the small intestine from eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats.  The exact cause is unknown; however, those with a family member with Celiac Disease are at greater risk for developing the disease.

The disorder is most common in those of European ancestry and women are affected more commonly than men.  More than two million people in the United States, or about 1 in 133 people have the disease. In New York State, approximately 150,000 people suffer from Celiac Disease.

“No treatment can cure Celiac Disease. However, you can effectively manage Celiac Disease through changing your diet,” Senator Parker said.  “Gluten is found in bread, pasta, bagels, pizza and many other popular foods but can also be found in medicines, vitamins and lip balm. People with Celiac Disease may have no symptoms but can still develop complications of the disease over time. Raising awareness among medical professionals and the public could save lives.”

There are numerous diseases and conditions associated with Celiac Disease including:
·         Anemia
·         Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus
·         Certain types of intestinal cancer
·         Dermatitis herpetiformis
·         Down syndrome
·         Lactose intolerance
·         Miscarriage or unexplained infertility
·         Neurological conditions
·         Osteoporosis or osteopenia
·         Thyroid disease
·         Type 1 diabetes

“Another characteristic of Celiac Disease is that it is often misdiagnosed, or only diagnosed after years of suffering, missed work, and expensive diagnostic testing-and ineffective treatment.  Consequently, raising awareness among medical professionals and the public about Celiac Disease could save the State of New York hundreds of millions of dollars otherwise lost to unnecessary or ineffective medical treatments, or in lost work productivity,” said Senator Parker.

“Experts  in  the  field of Celiac Disease tell us that one percent of the  population  worldwide  has  Celiac  Disease. Sadly, 97% of those individuals go undiagnosed for years due to a lack of information and awareness.”…..

…Senator Parker has sponsored two bills that would raise awareness of this debilitating disease.  The first (S.5751A) would create a statewide education program within the Department of Health to promote awareness and train health care professionals concerning the causes and consequences of Celiac Disease.

The second bill, (S.7460) would increase the safety to those with food allergies by requiring every cafeteria owned, leased or operated by the state to post all information regarding the gluten content of foods being served.

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It’s a small first step, but hopefully, as the estimated 97% of Celiacs who are still as yet undiagnosed join our gluten-free community, the sheer number of gluten-free consumers will compel more and more legislature like this. Every step taken toward raising awareness of Celiac and Gluten-Intolerance is a good one. So thanks for helping raise awareness, Senator!

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