Happy November! I can't believe the holidays are so quickly approaching. I hope you recovered from last night’s escapades and did not indulge in any gluten-containing candy. I do know how tempting those Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are. 🙂
With the start of November, also comes the start of National Health Blog Post Month, hosted by Wego Health. I am excited to participate, but this means that I have to commit to writing one post for every day in November! Wish me luck! But there is plenty to talk about in gluten-free life (its lack of time that is my biggest hurdle). I've also invited a few of our community members to participate, and if you write regularly about gluten-free living, please feel free to post your blog link in the comments below, and let me know if you'd like to guest post one day this month. I'd love to hear from you!
So today's topic "Why I write about my health" is a great introduction as to why we do what we do at Stuffed Pepper. In a simple answer – to raise awareness. According to most statistics, about 95% of people with Celiac Disease (CD) are thought to be still undiagnosed. I don't know if the statistic is the same for Gluten Sensitivity (GS), a disease which only recently received official medical recognition, but given the fact that gluten affects people in many more ways than just digestive distress, and its effects are not always immediately felt, it is very difficult to diagnose. So I wouldn't be surprised if just as many people with Gluten Sensitivity are still undiagnosed, if not more.
But the blogging community must be doing something right, because I meet many more people today who either have CD/GS or know someone who does, than I did just a couple of years ago. And just a couple of years ago, very few restaurant managers and waitstaff had heard of the word "gluten." Today it is becoming increasingly easier to eat out. And friends and relatives that I haven't talked to in years are starting to come to me for advice. I'm no longer the freak on the crazy diet, but actually someone whose experiences can be helpful to others.
So I write about my health because I want to get the word out. Gluten is not good for me, and approximately 21 million Americans like me. It’s not good for approximately 3 million Americans with Celiac Disease. And millions more people worldwide. Gluten may not be good for you, either. Gluten is known to be associated with hundreds of diseases, including many autoimmune disorders. Some of these diseases can be alleviated and in some cases even reversed by simply eliminating gluten from the diet. And while maintaining a gluten-free diet is not as easy as swallowing a pill, one can live happily and healthily on a gluten-free diet and feel far better for years to come, than relying on medicines to mask your symptoms (whatever they may be) and never actually getting better.
I am not a registered dietician, nor do I have any medical degrees. So I take caution in what I say. But I do a lot of research, and make sure that I can back up my claims. At the same time, I rely on the wonderful work of our resident Health Experts such as Dr. Vikki Petersen and Dr. Rodney Ford, whose full time jobs are to heal people who have gotten sick from gluten, and who are so kind to post their health-related articles to our community for all to read. I mention their articles in our newsletter and in social media, because they can get into the fine details on just how gluten is affecting our health.
In addition to my health, I also write about food. A lot. It has always amazed me how little attention the traditional medical community pays to the linkages between food and health. In the case of Celiac Disease, there is a clear link between gluten and health. But many doctors are still not aware that Gluten Sensitivity is a real and proper diagnosis for disease, and don't always believe gluten to be the cause of your symptoms. Further, achieving proper health is more than just taking gluten out of your diet. What you put into your body is just as important as what you leave out. I am lucky that I grew up eating a very healthy, well-balanced diet. Vegetables of all kinds show up a lot on my family's plates. Desserts are for special occasions only. And the same is true of snacks like potato chips or Fritos (my one weakness after chocolate!). But there is plenty of delicious, healthy food to choose from on a regular basis, it just takes a little effort, which is always well worth it.
I also write about food, because it is such a prevalent part of our life. Its not just a mechanism of survival. If it were, going gluten-free would be easy. But our food is our culture. Most holidays and landmark events from birthdays to bar mitzvahs to weddings, revolve around food. Food tastes good. It’s comforting. It’s a creative medium for talented chefs and amateur home cooks. It’s diverse and amazing. We can’t live without it.
And food makes me happy. Good food that is. And if good-tasting, nutritious and comforting food is making me happy, then isn't that somehow making me healthy too? Don't pleasure endorphins have some kind of healing properties? At the very least, being happy lets me focus more on my health, and the task at hand – promoting good health and raising awareness to our community at large.
I write about health (and food) because I have found a happier and healthier life on the gluten-free diet, and I want to help others achieve the same. Simple, really.