Tuesday, October 8, 2013

All about celiac disease- and a Special Guest Post

You may have noticed that at the bottom of my recipe posts I try to make note of a GLUTEN FREE option. A few years ago, my Mother was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. An Auto Immune disease the prevents your body from tolerating gluten. Gluten is found in so many things, not just bread. Some items that are naturally gluten free are processed in a place where gluten is present, therefore contaminating the "naturally gluten free" item. The diagnosis came as a devastating blow as my Mother and I have always enjoyed sharing recipes and making bread together. At first it was very difficult for us to get together for family meals or go out to a restaurant together, as she would be forced to eat something different. I used to feel bad bringing over treats or calling her to tell her about a new and exciting recipe I had found. I knew she couldn't try things that I was making so it became difficult for me to share. After some time went by and we started doing more research and finding things she could eat, we have been able to turn our sadness around and find ideas everyday to re-invent the gluten free menu. Many restaurants are now more educated on Celiac, and have Gluten Free menus upon request.
I asked my Mom to write a guest post today, to talk about her feelings in hopes to inspire or comfort someone else who may have been diagnosed with Celiac. I will continue to give Gluten Free options in my recipes and we would love to hear from you if you have new ideas!
My Mom has had a fantastic outlook after being diagnosed, and I am really proud of her knowledge and drive to keep moving forward and carry on, finding new recipes and experimenting to make things better EVERY DAY :)
Hi, my name is Joan, I'm Emily's mom!  Emily asked me to share a few words about my experience with Celiac Disease.  About 2 1/2 years ago I started experiencing some pretty intense stomach pain.  It usually happened in the evenings, and I was having a hard time connecting it to one certain thing.  Infact, I didn't even consider that it might be foods that I was eating that triggered the pain, I just thought something was going on with my body and I was patiently waiting for it to go away.  After a few weeks of being in pain and some nudging from my family I headed to see a doctor.  I made excuses that maybe turning 50 was the problem! She completed 3 tests on me, looking for things that are exibited through stomach pain.  I was tested for ovarian cancer, an ulcer and celiac disease.
 Less than 48 hours later I received a call from her office telling me to stop eating anything with gluten in it.  I'm such a healthy person, I've never had anything worse than the stomach flu in my life, so this was a big surprise and an even bigger adjustment for me to live with!  (I want to stop and tell everyone now that my mom has diabetes and my brother has had his thyroid removed.)  In my studies I have seen a common connection between immediate family members that have diabetes, thyroid issues and celiac disease.  I wish I had known that before! 
After the diagnosis, I immediately stopped eating gluten and spent the next 2 weeks googling and reading books to become informed on every aspect possible to get healthy, stay healthy and feel good again!  Because celiac disease is an auto-immune disease whenever I consumed gluten, the gluten triggered my body into fighting against itself.  This damages your small intestine and from what I've read can take up to 2 years to heal.  In the meantime because the small intestine is damaged, it's not able to absorb the healthy nutrients you need, such as iron and you become anemic.  My blood work showed that indeed I was anemic. I realized that craving a glass full of ice everyday, wasn't normal. Strange cravings can also be a sign that something may be lacking in your body. 
After taking iron supplements and going gluten free, in 2-3 weeks my energy was incredible again!  I felt relieved to know what was causing the problem, but honestly it was a huge adjustment for me.  Do you remember the commercial with the big red easy button?  I felt like someone took mine!  I have to read a label and study everything before I can put it in my mouth. I had to call companies about my makeup, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste and even my vitamins before I could use anything!  But, knowledge is power and soon I had the power I needed to recognize key words on labels, ask the right questions and study and learn about new products to use.  In the few years since I was diagnosed, labeling is so much better as far as stating if something is gluten free or if it has been contaminated by being processed on equipment that processes wheat, barley or rye.
My hope in writing this today is to tell you a few important things...if you have any stomach discomfort or pain in your body, don't make excuses!  Go find out what the underlying issue is.  You might be making it worse (as I was) by letting time go by and hurting the only body you have!  Next, I would love to help or answer questions for you if you have any.  I can refer you to some great books that I read as well.  Emily has been my biggest help in referring me to gluten free bloggers, reading labels at stores and even baking me yummy gluten free goodies!  There are tons of excellent products that are my new favorites that replaced some of the old favorites and I literally have a well-rounded wonderful, healthy way of eating with some yummy breads and cookies that are gluten free on the side!  Have a great day and remember that "knowledge IS power".    :)
If you would like to learn more about celiac, check out a few articles here and here.
Thanks for stopping by today! 
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