Dearest Silly Yaks (and regular yaks, too),
Over ten years ago I was diagnosed with Celiac disease and my life, much like my diet, was flipped upside down. There was thankfully no Demogorgon in my Upside Down, though it often felt like one was living in my abdomen. Since I started my blog, I have become fairly transparent about most of my health issues and diagnoses; but the one I have been oddly removed from has always been Celiac Disease. This isn’t for a lack of wanting to express my thoughts on living with the disease. On the contrary, I have been purposely biting my tongue about the disease that I suffer from because of the stigma that comes along with the way of life I am forced to live due to the illness. Finally, I have decided to release my tongue from the clutches of my misaligned teeth. This decision was largely brought on by an unexpected muse; my phone.
While I am unsure how it became activated, my phone has an app that constantly sends me little notifications. On occasion it can be useful because it tells me what the weather will be, what new albums have come out, and even tells me when the St. Louis Blues are kickin’ ass. For the most part, it is a handy little addition to my robot friend. However, it also finds articles it thinks are relevant to my life. Nearly every day, at least one of these articles has a title that reads, “Irish People are Wasting Money on Gluten Free Food!” or, “The Truth About Gluten Free Diets!” and my favorite ones, “Gluten Free Diets are Actually Dangerous!”
Yes, I agree that gluten free diets are a fad…to an extent. It is true that those who are not Celiacs or allergic to wheat should not be eating gluten free because it can have adverse health effects. Nevertheless, it must be said I am one thousand percent fed up with the fact that the media has been focusing on the fad while Celiac disease as a whole is left completely in the dark. I am exasperated by the fact that the gluten free fad gets more attention than the disease that has caused so much struggle and suffering in both my life and millions of others.
While I cannot speak for every Celiac, I am sure most of us would agree that we are sick of the dirty looks, rolling eyes, scoffs and skepticism we receive throughout our daily lives. We are exhausted of the scathing questions laced with doubt aimed at us because of how our disease alters our diets. Lately, I have realized that one of the reasons I am especially aggravated by the never ending slew of articles and videos about gluten free diets is that while diet is a tremendous part of a Celiac’s life, these ignore everything else that entails being a Celiac. It ignores the depression, the brain fog, the weakened bones, the nerve and muscle issues, the exhaustion, the hospitalizations, and the countless other attributes of the disease.
Every time I see one of these articles pop up, I feel shamed for an illness I had no choice in having. Furthermore, I feel completely ignored, my serious illness being constantly ridiculed by major media. It seems the entire world is making a mockery of my disease. As I have said before, no one in their right mind would doubt or make fun of someone with diabetes even though they must adhere to a strict diet. Why must it be any different for us?
I have tried so many times to write a post like this, and each time have ultimately decided not to post it. I would think to myself that I didn’t want to come off as angry or crude, or dip my foot into the never ending clusterfuck that seems to be the conversation about gluten free eating. After too many years, I have been sent over the edge. Our society is focusing on the wrong part of gluten free eating, and those such as myself suffer for it.
Of course, people should think logically about their own specific health before following a diet of any kind. But this fad should not be the only focus. The primary focus should be aimed towards how to be supportive of Celiacs, and most importantly of all, empowering someone diagnosed with Celiac disease to make a healthy transition to their new lifestyle that can end up truly saving their life.
Instead of all the doubting and intent on proving us wrong, why don’t we spread more help and information that will better the lives of those who are chronically ill with a serious disease? Not to mention, most people I have met that are non-celiac gluten free could literally care less about those who say it doesn’t make them any healthier. They will do whatever they want, as they should, and will figure out what is best for them in the long run. Regardless of the fad, I am sure that the repercussions of a normal person eating gluten free are not nearly as terrible as a Celiac eating normally or not having enough information.
I’m sure this one, angry little post won’t change much, though if it opens the mind of even one reader, I’d consider it a success. Celiac disease is a real illness and a dangerous one, and it is time that we turn the spotlight on what truly matters – helping those who are ill get better in a healthy way, and not shaming them in the process.
I think garlic bread would have to be my favorite all-time food. I could eat it for every meal. Or just constantly, without stopping.