There’s always been something special about May. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and gluten-free goodness can be found at every turn. That’s because May is Celiac Awareness Month, giving gluten-intolerant folks around the world the opportunity to band together, elevate their cause, and celebrate all of the awesome people who are doing good things for the community.
All year round, we’re pretty amazed by the good work being done by our favorite brands, bloggers, and everyday GF crusaders. We could call them Heroes of the GF Community. Celiac Disease Awareness Month is the perfect time to highlight these awesome activists and look to them for inspiration on how to put even more gluten-free positivity into the world. To kick off the celebration, we have five awesome ways you can celebrate Celiac Awareness Month PLUS a shout out to the folks who are leading the way.
1. Be a pal.
The Beatles said it best – we’ll get by with a little help from our friends. Be a friend this month by vowing to finally have that talk with your friend who’s always plagued with a myriad of mystery symptoms. The tough thing (well, one of the tough things) about Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance is that they often disguise themselves behind a range of seemingly unconnected symptoms. We’re talking everything from headaches and memory loss to Raynaud’s disease and depression. If you have a friend struggling to get a diagnosis for their health issues, it’s worth it to sit down with them and discuss how to get tested for Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance.
We tip our hats to blogger advocates like Gluten Dude and Gluten Free Living magazine for underlining the importance of getting tested. If you have Celiac Disease, which is a genetic disorder, it’s important that your family members get tested for it, too. Awareness Month presents the perfect opportunity to make sure you and your family have a clean bill of health to wave loud and proud. Not sure how to initiate the conversation? Beyond Celiac has put together an awesome video and toolkit to help you introduce the topic and break the ice.
2. Support a gluten-free company.
Congrats! By reading our article, you’re already off to a great start – and we thank you for it. Celebrate Celiac Disease Awareness by focusing your monthly shopping budget around gluten-conscious and allergy friendly brands. Whether you scout out your local farmer’s market for smaller businesses or stick to your favorite stand-bys at your neighborhood chain store, show your support and put your dollars towards brands that take gluten seriously. Looking to meet some new companies this May? Check out a GF expo or demo near you and get to know the faces behind some of the finest GF makers out there. You can start with the GF & AF Expo, a larger event hosted by GF-giants Udi’s and Glutino, or get down to the micro-level and find a regional event in your area. Check out the Celiac Support Association for events, demos, and membership opportunities near you.
3. Start a gluten-free pet project.
The gluten-free community is only as strong as its members, and adding your voice into the mix can only strengthen our purpose. Every person living a gluten-free lifestyle brings a unique perspective and set of experiences to the table, and May’s Awareness Month is a great time to bring that project you’ve been dreaming about to life. Take Katie Kolbus of Motown Freedom Bakery in Michigan. Her business grew out of a passion for not only treating her own digestive issues, but also proving to friends and family that natural ingredients can result in delicious treats. If you see a void in the community, you could be the one to fill it.
Travel across the pond and you’ll find inspiration in the origin story of dedicated companies like Green’s Gluten Free Beer, one of the first and most trusted companies to make a 100% gluten-free beer. Derek Green wanted to create a delicious, truly gluten-free beer, and that’s exactly what he did. Whether you start your own bakery, blog, or community support group, your project could be the solution to someone’s problem. If you’re starting a new project this month, let us know in the comments below! We’re with you all the way.
4. Educate and motivate.
Knowledge is power, so let’s make a concerted effort to empower our communities this month. We’ve already vowed to help our friends and family screen for gluten-related illnesses, but there’s also an opportunity to form non-GF allies. This month, harness the power of social media to share educational links, easy-to-digest infographics (thanks, Gluten Dude!), and – if you’re up for it – your own diagnosis story. When your friends and family hear about your personal journey and some of the trials and tribulations you still face (cross-contamination in restaurants, gluten doubters…you’ve told us your horror stories!), it could humanize the realities of these conditions in a way that brass tacks can’t.
Either way, this month is all about raising awareness and creating new connections to elevate the gluten-free community. There are plenty of incredible storytellers already out there to help get your creative juices flowing. We love hearing the stories of leaders in the GF community like Shauna Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl and getting real about being GF with the hilarious April Peveteaux in her part-bio, part-recipe book and blog. Got kids? You can thank mother, author, and fellow Celiac Bonnie J. Kruszka for her children’s book “Eating Gluten-Free with Emily” which helps explain to younger kids exactly what it means to be GF.
5. Become a gluten-free master chef.
This month, vow to get experimental in the kitchen. The GF community is lucky to have a wealth of talented, creative chefs on deck, so break out those recipes and get cooking. Trying new things in the kitchen will allow you to support GF companies and bloggers while refreshing your at-home menu. No one can get away with accusing GF food of being boring when you’ve got bloggers like Gluten-Free Goddess and Elana’s Pantry cooking up masterpieces all year long. One of the strengths of the gluten-free community is our creativity in the kitchen and our willingness to share our creations with others, so get connected to GF geniuses like Natalie of Gluten Free Mommy and Danielle Walker, the mastermind behind the “Against All Grain” brand, which now exists as a book, Youtube channel, website, Instagram account, and more. What recipes will you be trying this month? Tweet and share your favorites with us!
Which gluten-free activists and do-gooders inspire you most? How will you be celebrating Celiac Disease Awareness Month this May? Let us know what this month means to you and share some of your community favorites in the comments below!