A lot of people have a greater awareness about  gluten free living and celiac disease now than ever before.  And there are also more resources to get information than ever before. I am not sure if this is a “what came first, the chicken or the egg” situation, but the gluten free trend definitely helped raise awareness and bring out the need for more resources.  So those two benefits of awareness and resources go hand-in-hand in this post.

This is is just one part as The Savvy Celiac looks at the benefits and downsides of the very trendy gluten free diet. Our first post this week laid the groundwork.  The second post on Wednesday hit on another benefit of more gluten free products.  Now we move on to discuss increased awareness and gluten free and celiac resources.

Gluten Free Trend Benefit:  More Awareness

More people know about gluten-free foods (and that they exist) now, than ever before.  They may not know how to prepare them, or keep them safe from cross contamination, but they have seen them on the stores and could buy  a box of gluten free cereal, pretzels or pasta.

The proof is in the numbers: Packaged Facts predicted the gluten free food industry would be a $1.56 billion dollar industry in 2008, $4.2 billion by 2012 and $6.6 billion by 2017.  A Mayo Clinic study last summer found there are an estimated 1.8 million people with celiac disease.  Approximately 1.6 million people are currently eating a gluten free diet.  WebMD explains “Yet there’s almost no overlap between the two groups”. Yikes– that’s a lot of people eating gluten free.

More people also know about celiac disease– including doctors.  Again, most  may not understand the details of it (cross contamination, that it’s an autoimmune disorder, and the short and long-term health implications of eating gluten) but they are hearing about it and getting their patients or themselves tested.

Gluten Free Trend Benefit:  More Resources

Gluten Free Living (GFL) and Living Without (LW) magazines have been there through thick and thin:  GFL for nearly 2 decades and LW since 2000.  Bette Hagman’s cookbooks were the mainstream when it came to gluten free cooking back in the day as well.    But since the trend began, more magazines, books, cookbooks on the subject have really popped up.  A quick search on Amazon.com shows more than 5,000 book titles (both regular books and cookbooks) with the words “gluten free” in it. Another 1,400 books have the word “celiac” in the title.

Blogs, websites and podcasts  started to boom in the late 2000’s.  The one big exception being celiac.com which launched its site in 1995!  The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness was founded in 2003, but the website really took hold in the community a few years later.  It is currently a very reliable resource for people diagnosed with celiac disease.

Then came Twitter, Instagram, and much more.  An entire social media community dedicated to celiac and gluten free living really started to boom in the late 2000’s.  Now you can get information on celiac and eating gluten free nearly anywhere.

So I ask again, did the resources promote awareness or did awareness promote the plethora of resources we have available to us today?  Either way I don’t care:  I have a cupboard filled with fabulous gluten free cookbooks and a Twitter feed filled with new friends who offer great information every day on living a healthy gluten free life.  Plus I enjoy people saying to me.. “I’ve seen gluten free products at my grocery store, what’s that for?” or “Yeah I have heard of celiac but never really understood what it was” — which all helps spread awareness.

Coming up next week– some of the downsides of the gluten free trend.

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