I have ranted before about how celebrities “going gluten-free” are hindering, not helping coeliacs by trivialising the gluten-free diet into “the next big thing” (I’m looking at you, Gaga and Miley!). Coeliac disease affects around 1 in 100 people, (most are undiagnosed) and left untreated is responsible for a variety of awful health problems, so surely soon there would be a celebrity who would “get” that it’s a big deal?
But at last, there is hope. Jennifer Esposito (from Samantha Who? and Blue Bloods) has been diagnosed as a coeliac. Why is this significant? Well, she hasn’t simply been diagnosed, she has set up Jennifer’s Way, a foundation dedicated to awareness, research and advocacy for coeliac disease. This sort of organisation is long overdue in the United States, where you can use the term “gluten-free”, when a product is NOT necessarily suitable for coeliacs, or has not even been tested for gluten. I really feel for the US coeliacs, as the laws in the European Union are at least on our side in terms of keeping us healthy.
You might wonder, why do we need a celebrity to fight for us? Shouldn’t we leave that to professional organisations?
Well, of course organisations such as Coeliac UK do a fantastic job, and we depend on them for many things. But the depressing truth about the media these days is that an unglamorous advocacy organisation can be shafted from a TV show or even the news, at the last minute because one of the TOWIE crew did something or other. The veneer of celebrity is a false one, but if used correctly can ensure a higher profile for whatever cause they are promoting.
And if that cause is coeliac disease, more the better for us. Keep up the good work, Jennifer, and I look forward to the day when a high profile Brit can help us coeliacs across the pond – really help us – by demonstrating the real and important need to stick to the “trendy” gluten-free diet for life.
Well, at least it’s the first time in my life I’ve ever been considered trendy!