A Helping Hand

Celiac Disease hasn’t been the most fun thing.  I mean, you eat something you shouldn’t or accidentally get cross contamination and end up in the bathroom for the rest of the day or curled up on your bed in pain.  Doesn’t sound like a great way to spend an afternoon.

Through my work with Gluten Free Grand Valley, writing for the newspaper and being vocal on social media, I have gained attention, hopefully as an advocate for those with Celiac Disease.  Because of this, I get lots of questions, lots of emails and phone calls and people who are friends or friends of friends stopping me at gatherings to ask questions because they have been diagnosed or because someone they know has been.

A couple of these things happened this week.  First, I found out that a friend’s sister was diagnosed a few months ago.  We happened to be at a birthday party and I was having a glass of wine and she started asking me questions about being gluten free.  She then proceeded to tell me that she had been diagnosed Celiac.  We, of course, spent the rest of the evening talking about food, restaurants and all that goes along with Celiac Disease…over a gluten free pizza, I might add.

The second was someone who is gluten free is moving to Grand Junction and contacted me about Gluten Free Grand Valley.  I directed her to the Facebook page but we started a dialog on how scary it is to move to a new city, to not know what grocery stores to go to or what restaurants are safe.  We plan on having coffee when she gets here so I can help her.

Sometimes being given the burden of a disease can be just that, a burden.  But I look at it like this:  God put me on this Earth for a reason and gave me Celiac Disease for a reason.  I believe it’s to help people.  That’s not being said with bravado or boasting, it’s a fact.  I hope that I can help as many people as possible whether it’s simply giving them a cookie recipe or if it’s guiding them through the first year of eating gluten free.  I hope that I can always lend a helping hand.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter for news, fun items and more on being gluten free.  You can also follow me on Pinterest for recipes, quotes and information on Celiac Disease.

If you can’t say nothin’ nice…

I don’t always keep in tune with what is going on in the world.  I typically do enough so that I can talk intelligently and know the facts.  I don’t like to sound ignorant so I educate myself.

Not everyone does this, which was evident by this interview that included TV talk show host, Joy Behar.  If you haven’t watched it, please do.  Unless you are in a good mood because it will tick you off.

I spend time trying to educate people about being gluten free:  what my reasons are, what it means and how I keep myself healthy.  What irritates me the most is people not educating themselves on why they are eating gluten free.  Admittedly, a lot of people that don’t know why they are eating gluten free are the ones who don’t have a medical diagnosis that requires it.  They do it because they feel better or, in some cases, because it’s the newest thing.  There are those people.

Ms. Behar is a prime example of talking without education.  Of speaking out of ignorance.  We are “needy” because our diet requires it.  Celiac Disease isn’t something in our head, it’s a REAL disease.  In fact, Ms Behar, I invite you to feed me pasta and hang out in the bathroom with me while my not real disease kicks in.

Part of me hopes that this negative publicity is a wake up call to this lady but, who am I kidding?  I have seen her before and she isn’t the brightest bulb so I am highly doubtful that it will change.  I just hope that other people won’t pay attention to her…and we can continue our education and bring positive light to eating gluten free.

Don’t forget that you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter for more fun items!

It’s not as easy as it looks

People go on diets all of the time to lose weight or, as in the case of my athlete/bodybuilding friends, to do a competition of some sort.  Cutting out certain foods helps you achieve those goals and can help you get much healthier.

But there is a difference between choosing to cut out a food group or just a couple of foods and being forced to cut out foods.  When you choose to cut foods out, you have the option of bringing them back into your life when, or if, you choose to.  When you HAVE to cut a food out it’s not quite as easy.  Especially when the item you have to cut out of your life is in EVERYTHING.

Which is where the bet comes into play.  I was out with some friends a couple weeks ago watching football and enjoying an adult beverage.  When it came time to eat, my friend Kim and I discussed what we wanted (we are quite familiar with local restaurants and what we can and can’t have) and ordered.  Somehow the topic turned into an “it’s not that easy” discussion.  Now, Kim is right, eating gluten free can be challenging and frustrating.  Gluten is in all different types of foods, most you wouldn’t think.

So Kim and Craig bet.  Kim bet Craig that he couldn’t go a full week of eating gluten free and he accepted.  Then I told him where wheat was and what he couldn’t have.  First, beer.  He looked at his beer sadly but decided he could give it up for a week.  Then I moved into the liturgy of “you can’t have pasta, bread, breaded foods, certain kinds of ketchup, certain types of soy sauce, most Chinese foods, cereals…” and the list went on and on.

I think finding out that “little” things like ketchup, soy sauce and salad dressings can contain wheat is surprising but wheat is a binder, and thickener, in almost everything.  I mean, a friend of mine made chili with a seasoning packet that had, yes, wheat.

Well, the bet lasted under eight hours when Craig decided it wasn’t going to happen.  I don’t blame him, if I wasn’t Celiac, I wouldn’t be gluten free either.  I would be feasting happily on my Chinese food with soy sauce.  I won’t lie, though, I helped enjoy the spoils of Kim’s winnings and was happy about it.

Go on guys…bet again.  I’m ready for it!

What do you say?

When you are gluten free and go out to eat or go to someone’s home for dinner, it can be hard to stress that gluten free eating is important.  I’ve been gluten free for a year and a half now and one of the things that I struggle with is how to tell people that I absolutely cannot have anything with gluten in it.

For example, when you go to a restaurant and tell them that you can’t have wheat products, they seem to get it.  But when you are a Celiac it becomes more than that.  You can’t have barley or rye either and cross contamination is a WHOLE other subject.  I have told people that I’m Celiac and can’t have anything with gluten and get the glassy eyed look.  Sometimes they seem to get that it’s important (Celiac does sound like it could be bad) but not WHY.  When I ask if they have anything gluten free, a salad is a common answer although a lot of dressings have wheat.

So, what do you do?  Should you go into detail about Celiac Disease and what consequences it can cause?  How do you handle this?

Celiac Awareness Day

Tomorrow is Celiac Awareness Day so what does that mean?  I am pretty outspoken on the topic so those of you that know me well will probably say “yes, we’ve heard all of this before, Angela, you can stop it now” but for those of you that don’t hear me a  lot, listen up.

First, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease.  This means that I don’t puff up, start wheezing or have other allergy type reactions.  This means that my body is destroying itself, even if you can’t see it.  It means that when I eat that piece of bread my insides are attacking itself, the villi are dying and my body isn’t absorbing nutrients.  Repeated ingestion of gluten, even a little bit, can cause severe damage.  So please don’t tell me that “a little bit can’t hurt”.  It can.  A lot.  It can hurt just like a little peanut could cause death in a person with a peanut allergy, it’s just not that immediate.

Second, it’s more common than you think.  1 in every 133 people has Celiac Disease and most don’t know it.  Why?  Because most doctors are taught that not many people have it so it’s misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s Disease or some other intestinal disease.  A lot of doctors don’t know the first thing about Celiac Disease so they are hesitant to test for it and hesitant to tell someone how to live with it.  Honestly, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease almost four years ago and my doctor told me that as long as I didn’t have symptoms, I could go on with life normally.  My doctor was WRONG and not having the information they needed could have caused me long term, maybe deathly, damage.  Was it their fault?  Probably not.  Either way, I ate “normally” for over two years before I had “symptoms” and probably caused more damage than was needed.

Third, if you have a direct family member with Celiac Disease, your chances go up to 1 in 5-22%.  That is a significant increase so if you have a family member with Celiac Disease, do  yourself a favor and get tested.

Fourth, Celiac Disease doesn’t discriminate.  No matter your sex, your color, or your age, you can have Celiac Disease.  We have people in our group, Gluten Free Grand Valley, that are in their 70’s and some that were diagnosed when they were just a few months old.

There is so much more but I’m going to stop there and let you do some reading.  If you want to know more facts on Celiac Disease, you can find more information on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness website.  They are thorough and have great, up to date info for you to peruse.

One more thing…my website is pretty well decked out in a light green.  This green represents Celiac Disease Awareness.  You will see me wear a ribbon in this color in May and also tomorrow and will always see it on my blog.  I hope that you will join me in wearing a light shade of green tomorrow to represent this day and bring awareness to this disease.