Adventures in Celiac Disease or Life After Bread

Celiac Disease brochure created for class.

People I know in my day-to-day life are totally going to skip this one. “Oh laaawd!” they will think while they roll their eyes after seeing the topic. “She’s talking about celiac disease again.” That’s right! I am! This will not be icky, I promise.

For those who may not know, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder where the lining of the small intestine is damaged due to a reaction after eating gluten (gluten is what holds together wheat, barley, rye, etc). Because of this damage, nutrients aren’t absorbed properly. There are over 300 hundred symptoms, but-get this- a lot of people are asymptomatic. Not to sound all Dr. Oz on you, but you could have it and not even know.

Before I go any further, I want to reinforce that I am not a doctor. I’m not even that smart. This is just my story and if you suspect you have celiac disease you should talk to your doctor or do your own research or do something that doesn’t blame me in any way

I’m going to skip the gory details (yay!) and say that I had some pain (okay, a years worth) that was getting worse and for about a month I was only getting about 2-3 hours sleep a night. Three days after going cold turkey off gluten, I slept through the night. Seven days later, the pain was completely gone. This was a week before Halloween 2011 and I haven’t knowingly had any gluten since.

Inside of the brochure

Written out that way, it sound so easy. Like giving up all things wheat is not super difficult on a daily basis. Wheat is in EVERYTHING. I know it’s trendy right now to cut out gluten, but dear God, why would you do this if you didn’t have to??? GLUTEN IS INCREDIBLY TASTY!! And the sample ladies at Costco take it as a personal affront if you can’t have the sliver of bagel dog they are pushing- I know this from experience.

Want to confront your food issues? Cut out a major food group! Even six months later, there are still things that come up. My husband wanted to go some  brewpub. I’m more of an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and/or Mojito kind of a girl anyway, so staying away from beer (beer has barley) is not an issue. I looked at their menu and EVERYTHING had beer in it! Even the freaking rice had beer in it. Seriously, how do you make beer rice??

It’s not all bad. About 3 weeks after cutting gluten, I noticed my pants felt loose. I weighed myself and discovered had dropped 15 pounds. I started weighing myself constantly. My husband was like, “I don’t think you are supposed to do that every day.” I said, “But every day it goes down!”  The weight loss slowed down after a month (and went up around Christmas when I discovered potato chips are gluten free), but it continues to drop. As of this morning, I’m down 32 pounds. Apparently, doctors used to think- and some still do- all celiac patients were very underweight, but a recent study found that 39% of celiac sufferers are overweight or obese at the time of diagnosis. So, if your doctor tells you that you can’t have celiac because you are normal or overweight, hit them with this link.

In case you want to learn more about celiac disease and gluten intolerance, here are some links for you:

Celiac Disease Info at the National Institute of Health 

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center

Celiac.Com – this is the best one! Tons of info, a gluten free recipes, food shop, very active support forum and just a great place!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go hide in my doomsday shelter until the NATO summit leaves the area. By “doomsday shelter” I mean my condo living room and “hiding out” meaning, eating chips and bunless burgers while playing Marvel Pinball on Xbox. So I guess that means there is no change from my normal weekend activities after all. Have a great week!

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