I recently shared a post about my family’s first Thanksgiving after becoming gluten free (read here; also some great recipes and food blogger links). It revealed aspects of gluten free living I’d not anticipated that were very impactful; feeling excluded. It struck me as we prepare for Thanksgiving this year what a completely different experience it is. Eight years ago I felt I was walking through a gluten-filled mine field every day, not just for myself but for my children. Every morsel of food not originating in my kitchen felt potentially perilous.
Being a researcher by nature, I read everything I could get my hands on. I learned that at that time, the typical time from symptom onset to diagnosis for gluten issues was 11 years on average. With the current standard statistic of 1 in 132 people believed to have an issue with gluten, (though largely undiagnosed) far more awareness has been raised and consequential resources developed. Despite the early challenges we as a family faced while adjusting, I was thankful my personal physician and our Pediatrician were hip to gluten and it was a speedy diagnosis for our family.
In my family we now have gluten free awareness integrated into our lives without effort. It is as who we are as the color of our eyes. My children reflexively read all food labels. We are nimble about substitutions and don’t feel ‘left out’ most of the time. In my younger child’s case, he is one of six gluten free children in his grade of 50 students. He’s offered guidance to teachers and more newly diagnosed classmates when in doubt of ‘safe food’. My teenage daughter has educated her classmates over the years and her teen girl ‘lunch bunch’, and in turn her sensitive friends have always had mindshare for her needs when brining a gluten treat, bringing her something gluten free. Our lives could not be more different and settled into our ‘new normal’.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to help friends, fellow parents and even strangers with gluten free resources. I relied on many sources to successfully navigate our new path when we were diagnosed, I always appreciate the chance to ‘give back’.
I was recently asked to take a new role with an online gluten free community, Udi’s Gluten Free Living Community, as a Community Leader. I was honored and thrilled to help raise awareness, share resources and help those seeking information I might support. It did not escape me when looking through the community how much I would have loved to have these resources available when I was diagnosed.
Within the community members can start conversation strings on topics ranging from Newly Gluten Free, to Holidays, Kids and Parenting, to Recipes and much more. Every aspect of the gluten free experience is covered. There are 12 Community Leaders, all experienced in the gluten free lifestyle, able to interact in the conversations and shed expertise. Monthly Live Chats are held on various topics where members can converse real time (like instant messaging) with Community Leaders as well.
Please pop over and take a look around. There is no membership fee and I’ll be sharing some conversations from the community on my blog from time to time as well! I have a fun one coming up that I can’t wait to share with you and for you to add to yourselves! You can access the community website via the Udi’s Community widget/photo in the sidebar section of Boulder Locavore.
As a reminder everyone can eat gluten free so all gluten free recipes can be eaten by anyone. I sometimes worry that those who are not gluten intolerant or have Celiac may not realize this and feel excluded themselves (a reason all the recipes I publish on Boulder Locavore have options for both gluten and gluten free eaters!). In most cases you would never know the difference from the end result either!
Until then I wish you and your loved ones a beautiful, warm, rich and delicious Thanksgiving! My deepest thanks to you, dear readers, for your interest and time in reading Boulder Locavore! A day does not pass where I don’t think about how lucky I am thanks to you!