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Ignorance Isn't Bliss
July 14, 2010
I live on a farm that's a weekend B&B. One thing that continues to surprise me is how often a guest has a food issue or has a close friend or relative who's on a special diet. (We don't advertise that this place is gluten-free and allergy-friendly, so it’s not like we’re deliberately pulling these people in.)
Last weekend, for instance, a delightful family of five--two parents, three kids--gathered around our farm table for breakfast. (Yes, homemade gluten-free, dairy-free pancakes. Yum!) As the conversation continued and they learned the meal they were enjoying was gluten free, the father casually mentioned that both his mother and his sister have celiac disease.
Oh my. I took a deep breath and decided to make some gentle inquiries.
Had he been tested for the condition? No, he told me. He didn’t have any symptoms so why should he be tested?
Did he know that 1 in 22 people with first-degree relatives who have celiac disease (read: his mom, his sister) will actually develop the disease themselves? Did he know that more than 90 percent of celiacs are undiagnosed and many have no symptoms? Did he know that celiac disease is genetically linked, putting his children at risk for the condition--and their children, too? Did he know that left untreated, celiac disease leads to a host of very serious health problems, such as osteoporosis, anemia, other autoimmune conditions and even malignancies?
Deep breath. (Calm down, girl!)
Let’s just say that I encouraged him to get screened. And before they left, I tucked a copy of Living Without magazine under his arm. Let me know how that testing goes, I said. Fingers crossed that he follows through.