Lately it seems that all I read in the news is how bad the economy is and how many people are still losing their jobs. It worries me to think that people are stressed, getting sick and they do or don't know why.
Ever since I figured out that I had Celiac disease, after an auto accident, it has boggled my mind to think it was so hard to figure it out. Now that I know so much more after 7 years of suffering it makes me want to do everything I possibly can to help gain awareness about Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance. I want to reduce the amount of pain and suffering that the illness causes because of lack of info or access to healthy Gluten Free Food. I think part of the reason it is so hard to diagnose is because there are over 300 symptoms that may seem minimal or common and so we just deal with it until it gets worse. When the symptoms are vague like headaches - that last for weeks or worse turn into migraines, swelling of joints, depression, anxiety and pain or when we finally can't deal with the relentless major stomach and digestive upset do we finally decide to seek medical attention. Little do we know that all of these are symptoms of Celiac or Gluten Intolerance. Typically the doctors, figure it is something we ate, we get a pill and it is supposed to go away. But then it doesn't because maybe the pill has gluten in it and we continue to get worse. It can happen! If you don't know what is making you sick then how can you get better?
When I was trying to figure out - why was I so sick?
My stomach was so painful and nauseated, I would eat toast and get worse. I had headaches for weeks, fatigue so bad I could not get out of bed. Yet I felt so bad I couldn't sleep! I had no strength because my muscles were in spasms and cramps all the time. I felt like hell!
I knew I had to figure this out because my body was screaming ... So what is one to do? I had to dig to my core of my foggy brain to think about what was happening. I had to ask myself questions like ... why can't I eat? Why am I gaining so much weight? Why am I so INFLAMED
? I looked into all sorts of medical books, magazines and the Internet. I looked up each symptom individually as best that I could. I knew there was a connection. I kept thinking about my blood tests and why was my CRP- C-reative protein aka Inflammation markers
or test so HIGH? I looked into what causes that. I just couldn't figure out why I couldn't eat ... and then it hit me as my hair was falling out, my eyes bloodshot like road maps, my cheeks were reddish in some areas, breaking out and grey all over ... not very pretty ... (Thank God there are no pictures!) What is going on? My systems are not functioning, but why? What do they need to function? I am not getting nutrients! Why am I not getting my nutrients?
I looked up nutrient deficiency and causes ... there it was ... Celiac Sprue
! I went to my rheumatologist's office for a visit later that week. He wanted to do more blood tests. I asked him to include the test for Celiac Sprue. He asked why and I explained my reasoning. He agreed. I remember getting the phone call from my doctor when he got the results ... I remember thinking ... uh oh ... this is serious if my doctor is calling ... and then he said it ... positive results for Celiac Sprue!
This is just my story but there are so many more. How do people figure this out? The only treatment is to go on a very expensive Gluten Free meal plan or diet. (Side-note I don't like to use the word diet because I feel like it implies - fad diet but what is one to do?)
What do people do if they can't afford their home let alone the high cost of Gluten Free food?
This is why I am doing what I can to give back to my community. I want to bring awareness about Celiac Disease to anyone who will read or listen. I want to bring attention to the food banks to increase donations of Gluten Free Foods or "special dietary food". I can't imagine anyone eating food that will make them sick just because they can't afford it or do not have access to it.
So I picked up the phone to ask the food banks in my area, do you get requests from people needing Gluten Free Food? The first one said yes, 2 families. I also asked, do you get donations of Gluten Free Food and the reply was sometimes but not really.
I called another and found out that there is a coalition of 8 food banks in my area
- Kitsap County Food Bank Coalition.
So I made more calls. I went to their monthly meeting the next day. I asked them how many people have the need. Some had the answers and others did not. One of the larger food banks said, "They have 45 people requesting food for their specialty diet and some of those need Gluten Free."
It made us realize that we needed to look into this further and as one person said, "This is all news to me, I didn't know about Celiac Diseases or what Gluten Free Food meant". So they are going to begin to ask the question, do you need Gluten Free Food? Maybe in a few months we will have a better idea as to the number of families in our area that require Gluten Free Foods at our food banks. On the flip side, I asked if the food banks get Gluten Free Food donations and some did and some did not. If they do get Gluten Free Food donations it was rare, they put the food into their "specialty diet section" of the food bank. The people that are on a "specialty food diet" go and select the specialty foods in that area.
My hope is to see you at our kick off this Saturday, August 21 at 5 PM at the Anthony's in Bremerton
. I want to see lots of Gluten Free Foodies enjoying a Gluten Free meal together from Anthony's new Gluten Free Menu
. I want to hear conversations and see lots of non-perishable Gluten Free Foods being donated.
My hope and plan is to collect the donations at each of our monthly meetings from August 21 - November 18 and maybe we will be able to provide a full Gluten Free Thanksgiving Meal to these families in our area.
The kick-off of the Gluten Free Foodies - Gluten Free Food Drive
will not work without YOU!
I need your support and help with this event by having a large turn out this Saturday, August 21 at Anthony's. Please send this posting to everyone and anyone that would be interested in joining us for a Gluten Free meal (regardless if they have to be Gluten Free or not) or anyone that is Gluten Free! Bring your family, friends, neighbors or associates because someone you know probably has Celiac or is Gluten Intolerant!
So the pictures you see here are some suggestions of non-perishable Gluten Free Foods to donate.
Pasta, Quinoa, Baking Mixes, Certified Gluten Free Oats, Cereals, Crackers, healthy snacks like Gluten Free Granola and trail mixes.
If you are a Gluten Free Food company and would like to make a donation please contact me.
I think together we can make a difference! I really appreciate your support!