Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Bombshell - You're a Celiac

Almost one year ago I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and it was a life changing moment. So many things were going through my mind as my doctor tried to give me a brief explanation of what this diagnoses meant for me. I am not sure what he said but at that moment, what I heard, was everything you eat has to change.

The thing that made my diagnoses unique is that I was also diagnosed with an allergy to corn, peanuts, cantaloupe and soy. At first I was instructed to remove each of these items from my diet, however, after a few months I was told I could try to reintroduce soy and peanuts since my allergy levels were so low. The problem I still face is corn and gluten. For those who don't know, majority of gluten free foods use corn flour as a substitute for flour, there are many things made with rice, potato and other flours, however, corn is often an addition for texture and taste.

For the first few months, the transition was agonizing. I had withdrawals, even dreams about all the foods I used to eat. I felt confused, pathetic, defeated and hopeless, as if I would never be able to be gluten and corn free. There are so many things that contain gluten and corn it blew my mind. Yogurt, packaged deli meats, hot dogs and sausage, juices, powder for juices, dried fruits, etc. At first it seemed as if everything I picked up had corn in the ingredients. But then it started to get better. It took me a while to realize that it was getting better but one day i was explaining my situation to someone and they were talking about how they didn't think they could do it and I said "It's actually not that bad" and that was when it clicked. The dreams were gone and the withdrawals were gone the only thing that remained was my inability to resist temptation.

I ate most fruit, vegetables and meat (which would've been great if it was in meal form instead of constant snacking form) but when my friends and family and I would go out to eat or go somewhere without a gluten free option I would "cheat" as if it was a diet or something. Up until a few weeks ago I figured "Meh, it hasn't killed me yet, so who cares if I have wheat and corn once in a while?" Well apparently, my body was finally fed up with me and I got really sick. I decided I needed to take this seriously, since it is serious.

About two weeks ago I bought 2 amazing books "The Gluten-Free Bible" and "100 Gluten Free Recipes", and last weekend I began cooking.

"The Gluten-Free Bible" taught me so much about being and eating gluten free.
  • What is Gluten Anyway?
    • Gluten  is a protein that is found naturally in wheat, rye and barley.
      • Fun Fact: Legend has it that gluten was discovered by 7th century Buddhist monks who were trying to find something to replace the texture and savor of meat in their vegetarian diets. They found that when they submerged dough made with wheat flour in water, the starch washed away. What was left behind was a gummy mass with an almost meatlike texture - gluten. Today gluten is still used to make seitan- mock duck and other meat replacement products.
  • Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance and Wheat Allergies
    • Very specific condition in which exposure to gluten causes the villi (small hairlike projections from the small intestine that absorb nutrients and keep out toxins) to become atrophied.
    • The immune system sees fragments of gluten as toxins and reacts by attacking gluten and villi.
    • Autoimmune disease - occurs when the body attacks itself, mistaking normal healthy tissue for dangerous bacteria or viruses. 
    • It's estimated 1 of every 133 Americans have undiagnosed Celiac disease
    • In 1% of Americans diagnosed with this autoimmune disorder, exposure to even small amounts of gluten can cause intestinal damage and result in symptoms from fatigue to anemia and bone disease.
  • Symptoms - Symptoms for everyone are different. When I was 11 I was diagnosed as lactose and tollernt and by the time I was 16 I didn't eat anything with dairy. I ate soy cheese, no yogurt. I stopped drinking milk at 11 and I thought that was a big change. The years since then I was diagnosed with disorders, conditions, ailments, etc. and I thought I was a disaster. It wasn't until I final spoke up about an abdominal pain did the gears start moving. All through college I had a pain but I didn't want another diagnoses, another ailment, so i ignored it. Finally, last year it was so painful I spoke up and at first I was presented possible3 diagnoses of things such as ovarian cysts and ovarian cancer. When these and more tests came back negative, my doctor decided to do an allergy panel and Celiac test. Surprise! Bad News, you're a Celiac, good news... some of your diagnoses might be false! These are some of the symptoms for Celiac Disease. 
    • Abdominal pain or bloating
    • acid reflux
    • constipation
    • diarrhea
    • esophagitis
    • heartburn
    • irritable bowel syndrome
    • nausea 
    • vomiting
    • weight loss or gain
    • acne
    • anemia
    • anxiety
    • canker sores
    • depression, irritability
    • dermatitis
    • eczema
    • fatigue
    • hair loss
    • inability to concentrate
    • infertility
    • irregular menstrual cycles
    • lactose intolerance
    • migraine headaches
    • muscle cramps
    • nosebleeds
    • respiratory problems
    • sinusitis
    • vitamin deficiencies
This book has so much information. If you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, I would suggest this book. It also has some great recipes!

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