In our first year as a community, I remember feeling stymied when I first processed the fact that Food Allergy Awareness Week would fall right smack in the middle of Celiac Awareness Month. How could we possibly do justice to these two important health conditions and the place the hold in the lives of so many in our community?
And then it struck me how perfectly aligned they were.
Both communities are forced to carry the water of not only avoiding certain ingredients but educating all those around them about the ills of cross-contact.
Both communities are confronted with the real possibility of fatal reactions: within minutes in the case of food allergies, slowly and over time in the case of celiac disease.
Both communities are benefitting from the rise in free-from foods and the increased choice of products, but still forced through the logistical overhead of searching for certifications and calling the companies to learn the ins and outs of their manufacturing processes.
Both communities are facing ill-informed doctors (and especially pediatricians), and desperate rates of under-diagnosis.
And both communities are out on the cultural front lines, denied the luxury of just "going along" by the severity of their reactions - and thus moving the conversation forward for all custom eaters along the way.
Truly, this overlap could not make more sense. And equally, all of us custom eaters, whether we suffer these conditions or not, owe a tremendous debt to the willing and unwilling advocates who have done so much to raise awareness and respect for the very real medical reactions that can be triggered by foods.
Please join us in honoring these advocates' work by taking a moment to read up on a health condition you don't have, to better understand the context for the ones that you do. Because we're stronger when we advocate together, as One Community, with One Voice.