02/27/2013 01:29 pm ET Updated Apr 29, 2013

It's Time to Take Celiac Disease Seriously

This is a very exciting time in our history, regardless of your political perspective, because it isn't just the election we are celebrating -- its also about what legislation and policies are being enacted on behalf of people who deal with food sensitivities, allergies, and have gastrointestinal diseases.

I have seen at least four petitions, all of which show people with a knowledge of the ramifications that gluten has on those who have celiac or are intolerant or sensitive, which in my humble opinion is just about everybody. We are seeing states pass laws requiring the labeling of genetically-modified organisms, and all of that is happening right now.

I'm surprisingly optimistic, though I must add the lack of understanding around "gluten-free" is baffling and sometimes disheartening, to say the least. As a member of this gluten-free community, I am privileged to live in the moment we occupy today, a time that is changing the very fabric of this issue. Maybe it's because living in the D.C. metro area, it's hard not to see political activism at its best, but we are doing that very thing.

This weekend, we spoke to and shared with so many people who are committed to making these changes for our country. It's not going to be a quick fix, but when the ins and outs of celiac disease start to hit you at home, people pay attention. I can't tell you how many times I heard, "Oh my gosh, I feel like that after I eat my favorite (blank)," or "Hmmm, I think my niece has that."

So many people were asking questions and wanting to get more information about what gluten was and why it can be so bad for your health. I found myself saying: "Listen, this isn't a trend diet that you can start just to lose a few pounds. It's not an option for people like me, and we are not satisfied with the way things are in the celiac community, and we are intentionally being the change we want to see."

Acting like we have reached our destination isn't even close to reality when we have people saying crazy stuff like, "It's gluten-free, but not for celiacs." (That one was for you, @JennifersWaysJE and @GlutenDude.) We are fighting for each other and working together to create amazing products, transparency, and safety in the foods we eat. There is a lot of work to be done, but we are off to a great start. This really is one of the most significant diseases of the 21st century, and we are going to get this right, for all our sakes!

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