Sara, left, and Emma, right, created a gluten free informational website as part of their Silver Award project for Girl Scouts. (Submitted Photo)
By Hayleigh Gowans
When Sara Kronenberg was just 3-years-old, she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease that causes great pain and sickness any time she ate things with gluten. While there are struggles with maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle, she isn’t in it alone and, recently, Sara and her older sister Emma got together to create a website that acts as an informational source for people or families that may need to take on a gluten free (GF) lifestyle.
Emma, 14, and Sara, 12, of Manlius, and got the idea to start the website about 10 months ago when their respective Girl Scout troops were looking to guide the scouts to complete the Silver Award.
“At this time, our mom had made a joke, asking ‘can they do the project together?’ When we realized we could, our mother then mentioned something about going gluten free. Suddenly, we had a full plan to help newly diagnosed Celiacs, spiraling us into ‘Going Gluten Free: A Guide for GF Families,’” said Emma. Emma is in Girl Scout Troop 10086 and Sara in Troop 10934.
Since then, Emma and Sara have put together a comprehensive informational website, which can be found at gfguiders.com. The website addresses topics such as staring off a GF lifestyle, going to restaurants, labels and checking, cross-contamination, gluten free snacks and how to incorporate being gluten free into your social life.
One thing to emphasize about being gluten free, said Sara, is that is it not a choice for many people such as herself. Having to be gluten free in all aspects of her life has been a necessary learning experience, but that she doesn’t allow it to hold her back. Sara is also involved in soccer, skiing, basketball and plays the French horn.
“In terms of Celiac Disease in my daily life, it is a huge part, although it doesn’t stop me from trying new things. I constantly have to be conscious of what I put into my mouth, but I don’t spend every second worrying about gluten,” said Sara.
Though Emma is not gluten free, she said she wants to support her sister and working on the website together is a way she believes she can do that.
“Most dinners are now gluten free, we have to go to GF friendly restaurants, and I now know how to read labels,” said Emma. “In addition, this website is about support. It is so important to give guidance and love to everyone, as my family has given Sara. Therefore, I wanted to complete this project because I love Sara and advertising a GF lifestyle is important.”
Emma is also involved in many extracurricular activities, including competitive dancing, playing violin and enjoying the outdoors.
One common misconception Sara said people may think is that wheat is gluten. She explains while wheat is the most common factor of gluten, there are many other ingredients that need to be avoided such as barley and rye. Cross-contamination is another big issue not many people understand, and kitchen utensils that have touched gluten products can cause irritation if used to make food for a person who is gluten free.
Their mother, Meredith Kronenberg, said she believes her daughters have learned a lot since undertaking this project.
“First, I think the girls learned a lot about the technology behind creating a website.They realized all of the intricate steps that are involved,” said Meredith. “I think they also gained a better understanding of all that it means to eat gluten free.When Sara was diagnosed with celiac disease she was just turning 3-years-old, so I have always done all of the legwork for her. Now that she is older and getting more independent, I am trying to help her be her own advocate.”
Both Sara and Emma said they believe educating people who may not understand disorders where people must eat gluten free is beneficial for the overall GF community because it promotes a better understanding of the lifestyle. And with a better understanding comes the ability for other to accommodate those with gluten free lifestyles.
“It is important to educate people about living a gluten free life. With information, friends and family can offer support so that the GF individual can experience normal life. Additionally, the more people who learn about Celiac Disease, the better the GF community will become,” said Sara.
“Our greatest hope is that people draw support from our website. We want people to feel comforted and relieved when they visit our website, as GF life is often very stressful. For those who do not have Celiac Disease, Sara and I hope that they leave our page with the realization that the GF community needs help,” said Emma.
To view the website created by Emma and Sara Kronenberg, “Going Gluten Free: A Guide for GF Families,” go to gfguiders.com.
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features.
I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.
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