Gluten Free. For a while, it seemed to be like another “fad” in the world of diets. Over the past ten years the term “gluten free” has become part of a new dietary culture that seemed to have latched on as a new healthy way to live. That might be true for some, but for me, it got personal in June 2019 when after months of the “unknown” and fear, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
An estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, has celiac disease and it can affect men and women of all ages and races. Celiac is a serious, genetic autoimmune disorder triggered by consuming a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye. When a person with celiac eats gluten, the protein interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food by damaging a part of the small intestine called villi. Damaged villi make it nearly impossible for the body to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream, leading to malnourishment and a host of other problems including some cancers, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, infertility and the onset of other autoimmune diseases.
Many people, like myself, don’t even realize they have an allergy until it manifests itself in sometimes the most ahem…ugly ways. For me, I honestly thought I had complications from a hernia. It wasn’t until I had a contrast CT scan and surgery did they actually find my diagnosis.
According to BeyondCeliac.org, “Celiac disease symptoms may vary among different people. Due to the wide variety of symptoms that may present themselves, it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose celiac disease. One person might have diarrhea and abdominal pain, while another person has irritability or depression. Some patients develop symptoms of celiac disease early in life, while others feel healthy far into adulthood. Some people with celiac disease have no signs or symptoms at all.
These differences can make a celiac disease diagnosis extremely difficult to make, resulting in 83% of people with celiac disease undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions.
Left untreated, people with celiac disease can develop further complications such as other autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, thyroid disease and certain cancers.”
For me, “gluten free” is not a fad. It’s a new way I have to live and one I work everyday to conquer. For all those who are dealing with Celiac Disease or choose to eat gluten free, I invite you to share your recipes on our new Living Gluten Free category. We will be posting fun recipes, healthy tips and new market products each month. Are you living with Celiac? If so, we want to hear from you and how you manage each day living a healthy lifestyle.