Mark your calendar for September 13th! It’s the birthday of Dr. Samuel Gee, who was the first person to recognize that the symptoms of celiac disease are linked to diet. He published his observations in 1888. In 2010, the Senate passed a resolution officially marking September 13th as National Celiac Awareness Day.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, one in 100 people worldwide have celiac disease, though many are undiagnosed. While awareness is growing, a lot of people still don’t understand what celiac disease is or why people who have it can’t eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, without getting sick.
Celiac Awareness Day is about educating everyone you know—friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, social followers, the grocery store cashier—about celiac disease and what it’s like to live with it. Here are five fun ways you can mark the occasion!
Throw a gluten-free pizza party
When you’ve got celiac disease, you don’t usually have the option of picking up a pie for takeout on Friday night. But that doesn’t mean pizza has to be off limits. Tonight is special. You get all the pizza. Make a few pies with Mikey’s Grain-Free Pizza Crust or your favorite gluten-free pizza crust recipe (may we suggest Minimalist Baker’s?) or cauliflower crust for a low-carb option (we like this one by Chocolate Covered Katie) and invite some friends over. Who knows, it might even become an annual tradition—we guarantee even people who don’t have to worry about gluten will be hooked.
Host a gluten-free potluck
Pizza not your thing? Invite all your friends over and ask them to bring a gluten-free covered dish. Potlucks are frequently dominated by foods people with celiac disease can’t eat, and even with the dishes that appear gluten-free you’ve got to be worried about cross-contact. But now you get to make the rules and “no gluten” is number one on the list! Load your plate with a little bit of everything and live it up.
Spread the word about your favorite gluten-free restaurant
Raise your hand if going out to eat is the most frustrating thing about having celiac. Luckily, awareness is on the rise and it’s becoming easier to find gluten-free menus, especially in larger cities. Show your favorite gluten-free spot some love by booking a table for September 13th and telling everyone you know about the awesome food.
Organize a gluten-free recipe swap
You can never have too many gluten-free recipes, especially quick and easy ones that make weeknights simple. Ask your friends or coworkers—whether they’re gluten-free or not!—to make copies of their favorite go-to celiac-approved recipes and pass them around. You’ll have your meal planning taken care of for the next week! (Need some ideas? We have a few.)
Educate your friends and family
When you have to follow a strict diet for medical reasons, it can be so annoying to constantly have to explain why you brought your own food to the party or why you can’t have one of the doughnuts your coworker picked up for the morning meeting. We get it. But on September 13th, proactively talk to people you know about what it’s like to live with celiac disease and why you need to be extremely careful about what you put on your plate. Explain that being gluten-free is a medical necessity, not a preference, and that even a crumb of gluten can cause an immune response that makes you sick. Post about it on social, bring it up over lunch with your coworkers or ask someone close to you to try being gluten-free for the day in solidarity. Talking openly and honestly about the challenges of celiac disease helps spread awareness and understanding!