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A Question of Survival!

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. This means that eating gluten kills my villi so that I can’t absorb nutrients, which heightens my risk of cancer and shortens my life. When I learned this, I immediately stopped eating gluten. This is probably not surprising - why would I continue to consume something that was scientifically proven to wreak havoc on my future? 

I’m not going to pretend it was an easy transition. Cutting a major food group out of my diet certainly came with a steep learning curve. I’m still figuring out exactly what I can and can’t eat, and the most effective ways of avoiding these things. But instead of waiting until I had all of the answers, I did what I could to limit the damage to my body. 

Yes, gluten free products can be a bit more expensive, but it is a question of my health, and what better things could my money go towards than literally keeping me alive? It can be hard to avoid temporary pleasures in order to prevent far off suffering. However, the frustration of thinking through every thing this food has touched or of not being able to enjoy the same tasty treat as my friends is wholly eclipsed by the terrifying prospects of cancer and early death.  Sure, it can be annoying and even downright infuriating to not do so at times, but continuing to eat gluten has never been an option I’ve considered or that has even crossed my mind.

I did not spend years (and years, and years) debating over what percentage I should decrease my gluten intake and by when. I did not question the science telling me my body could not handle this substance. And I did not continue to consume this kryptonite become I was concerned that not doing so would lower my “quality of life”. Interestingly, this does not make me some sort of counter cultural stand out. As far as I know, the vast majority of people with celiac conformed to a similar path to mine following their diagnoses: an immediate end to gluten consumption. 

This is a widely accepted response. When celiac became increasingly recognized by the medical world, multi national corporations profiting from gluten-rich products did not try to deny the existence of the disease. Never did they fund special interest groups whose job it is to lobby health professionals to stop diagnosing it. Rather, these corporations (along with a vast array of their smaller counterparts), seized upon this new market opportunity, resulting in a proliferation of gluten free products over the last decade. I frequently walk into normal coffee shops, restaurants, or supermarkets and find a wide selection of specialized food I can eat. Getting to this point did not require feats of culinary engineering; gluten free recipes and their ingredients have always existed, the need for these just needed to be recognized and then acted upon.
30 years ago, our planet was diagnosed with climate change. Our governments learned that our Earth cannot digest the millions of tons of greenhouse gases we are dumping on it. The solution? Stop burning fossil fuels. Interesting.

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