Awareness Advocates of the Month: The Kuhn Family
From May 2008
What is an NFCA Gluten-Free Cooking Spree without the Kuhn Family?
NFCA has had the great good fortune to have Harriet and Adam Kuhn, along with their sons Jacob and Abe, participate in three Gluten-Free Cooking Sprees. Whether it be manning the Pamela’s Products booth, the Bob’s Red Mill table or selling raffle tickets, this awesome foursome is always there to lend a helping hand. While they may have attended the Sprees to enjoy the gluten-free food and the camaraderie with the celiac community, they also helped to make each one of them a success. Each member of the Kuhn Family truly is a fabulous NFCA volunteer!
It’s all because of Abe!
The entire Kuhn family has been involved in the celiac community and in maintaining a gluten-free diet since Abe was diagnosed at age three. Looking back, Harriet and Adam believe that Abe’s journey with celiac disease began when he was 2 1/2 years old. Before that, he was a thriving boy in the 75th percentile for growth. Quite suddenly, he began to display the classic symptom of celiac disease, including a distended stomach and anemia. As Adam reports, “You could just look at this kid and know it.” By Abe’s third birthday, he was failing to thrive.
The Kuhns consulted with Paul Peebles, a pediatric gastroenterologist, who administered a blood test and followed up with an endoscopy that determined that Abe had celiac disease. Their first reaction was to ask, “how do you spell that!” The next step was to learn that there were big dietary changes ahead for Abe and, as a result, for his family.
The first stop on Abe’s gluten-free journey was Trader Joe’s where the Kuhns bought gluten-free egg-free waffles. Abe ate waffles and never looked back. Thrilled, the Kuhns bought a case of waffles and started learning about gluten-free food. After months of illness, Abe began eating voraciously and gained lost ground. As time went by, more and more good gluten-free products became available and life became easier for this family.
Those familiar with celiac know that complications abound on the path to diagnosis. Abe had developed a heart murmur as a result of his severe case of anemia. After adopting the new diet, this problem was solved. Along the way, Abe and Jacob’s pediatrician has become a strong advocate for celiac disease. In fact, Dr. Dana Kornfeld also participated in the Washington DC Gluten-Free Cooking Spree!
The Kuhns maintain a gluten-free household. Harriet has adopted a 100% gluten-free diet out of solidarity with Abe. While Jacob, age 7, and Adam are gluten-free at home, they do vary their diet when eating out. Adam has become the family baker, specializing in gluten-free pizza and cakes. At school, the Kuhns keep an eye on the menu and, to be safe, Abe usually takes his gluten-free lunch to school each day.
The Kuhns enjoy Washington’s great restaurant scene. These days, there is much more awareness of celiac disease and the importance of the gluten-free diet so eating out is easier than ever, Abe’s favorite restaurant is China Pavilion in Bethesda, MD. He loves the crispy beef!
The Kuhns are very active in the celiac community in the Washington/Bethesda area. They are members of the Washington Area Celiac Support Group. Adam helps maintain the group’s website and has managed the 300-member listserv for this group for six years. Abe is in grade 4 and looks forward to volunteering when he is a bit older.
As a precaution, Jacob, age 7, was given the genetic test for celiac disease. It was negative. Nonetheless, Jacob is a strong supporter of his brother as he manages his celiac disease. After all, this is a family affair!
Adam applauds NFCA’s work in raising awareness of celiac disease. Adam would like to see a continuation of awareness programs and an increase in testing.
The Kuhn Family enjoys the gluten-free culture that has developed over the past few years. As more people are diagnosed, they know that the demand for gluten-free products will grow, generating an increased supply of excellent products in all stores, including the small chains and health-oriented stores that the Kuhns favor. Like many others, Adam would like to see the integration of gluten-free food into the mainstream of everyday life.
Thank you to the entire Kuhn Family—Harriet, Adam, Abe and Jacob. See you at the next Gluten-Free Cooking Spree!