Gluten Free Is Not A Fad When You Suffer From Celiac Disease
(As Told By A First Hand Onlooker)
Gluten? Celiac Disease? Have you heard of these terms that are everywhere these past few years? Even with gluten free diets making its’ way into the mainstream and surrounding us in news articles, magazines, grocery stores, and TV, most people still have no clue what it means to be gluten free and what the heck Celiac Disease is. Unfortunately for the past few years, a gluten free diet has been identified as a “fad” and the “prestigious diet for the rich and famous.” However, those who actually have Celiac Disease and an intense allergy to wheat can vouch that this is no fad or prestige.
What is Gluten?
Gluten (pronounced Glue-Tin) is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac (pronounced Sell-E-Ack or Seal-E-Ack) Disease is an autoimmune disorder where those who suffer cannot digest any gluten. To those with *CD, if they ingest gluten it causes damage to the lining of the small intestine. If left untreated, it can also lead to other health issues and many other autoimmune disorders.
Most people talk about having a gluten free diet but several have no clue that there is an actual disease that is much more intense then just by cutting out wheat from your diet. Those who suffer must read all food labels because gluten is hidden in many sources including, sauces, soups, processed food, body products, and even makeup.
Why the topic of Celiac Disease and gluten is so personal to me?
My last year of college, I moved into a different dorm room in the middle of the year with 3 new roommates. We had all known each other a little bit before hand and I knew one of them suffered from Celiac Disease. I knew about living a gluten free lifestyle because of my best friend from back home, my own organic research, and from working in an allergy friendly restaurant. But, I wasn’t as aware of what Celiac Disease was or the intensity of it. All I knew was that it was a much more serious form of a gluten allergy. Two days before I moved in, it was my 22nd birthday and I made myself an organic blueberry velvet cake. I was afraid to bring my leftover birthday cake into my new apartment because I thought I would make my new roommate sick if she even went close to it since I was still unsure about CD. She reassured me it was okay and I kept it in a sealed cake carrier. Furthermore, I barely even cooked or ate anything my first week there because of my lack of knowledge and the fear I would contaminate her.
Living with someone with a severe food allergy opened my eyes to how little knowledge there is about this disease or how people who it does not directly affect give no respect to those who suffer or care to educate themselves. If you want to know just how intense Celiac Disease is just read on. In our apartment we had to have different bowls, different pans, different sink scrubbers, and in our toaster we used the grill racks and she used the small insert. Since many college students like to share some food items we couldn’t share our butter or jelly because you take the knife and spread it on your bread and then put the knife back in the jar which is an instant contamination for a Celiac sufferer. Not too many people know this but if I prepared a sandwich and a tiny crumb of wheat got on her plate and she consumed it then she would get sick as well. When she unknowingly ingested gluten we called that “gluten bombed.” She would start to feel the effects of “gluten bomb” within an hour and start to have extreme stomach pain and other symptoms that could last her anywhere from 1-3 days. Every night we had to deep clean the whole kitchen. I think people, especially those in their late teens or early twenties and in college would feel very intimidated by living with someone who had an intense food allergy. Luckily, she lived with awesome roommates who took extra care. Unfortunately, most college students who suffer from Celiac Disease or any other intense food allergy are not as fortunate.
As sociable hospitality major college students, going out to eat was inevitable. We ventured to restaurants in Orlando that accommodated those who had a gluten allergy. Eating on Disney property was one of the best because at almost every restaurant the chef would come out and would talk to her before she ordered. They would even walk her through the menu on what she could eat which was beyond outstanding service. Restaurants have come a long way and many now offer gluten free items. Some restaurants even have separate kitchens. I highly respect those restaurants that truly take care of their guests who have strict dietary restrictions. Having a background from the hospitality world, I appreciate those restaurants.
Because of my organic lifestyle and living with my roommate who could not have gluten, I started to take my organic lifestyle a bit further and cook mainly gluten free meals. Also, I love to bake! So with that, I would find regular dessert recipes and change them into gluten free which was and still is my specialty. I do not like to brag but my gluten free desserts were amazing and did not taste “gluten free” at all.
Here are some pictures I found of some of the gluten free organic dinners and desserts that we enjoyed together in our apartment.
Living with her changed my life and helped me in my organic research and further my passion. I learned so much more by living with her than I could ever have from reading and researching Celiac Disease. I feel the experience that I gained inspired me to strive to learn the ins and outs of Celiac Disease and hopefully help others who suffer. This is one of my favorite subjects to talk about. It was such a blessing to have my eyes opened by living with someone with this intense allergy. Just to mention that not many people in their early 20’s or in college would feel like this is a blessing because you almost have to change your ways to accommodate to someone’s allergy that you don’t know very well. She really was lucky, but then again, so was I. I can empathize with those who have Celiac Disease and can help you with what to eat and what to buy. This empowered me to create many gluten free meals and desserts that I will share with all of you and that I have already shared with her.
For those of you living with Celiac Disease or an intense allergy to wheat, I want to tell you that I am here for you if you ever have a question or need help. Feeling isolated is common with having a food allergy, but I promise you that will find others who will respect you and want to be there for you. Remember to NEVER put your health in danger for other people. Luckily, there are countless gluten free products and restaurants these days that serve or sell gluten free items. As a result, it is much easier to live a wonderful life, gluten free.
*Disclaimer – If you wish to adopt a gluten free lifestyle or believe you have Celiac Disease please contact your doctor before changing your diet. Do not go on a gluten free diet just because a celebrity is doing it, your friend is doing it, or because you want to lose weight. It is not a fad and you lose out on certain nutrients if you do not need to cut out gluten from your diet. I am not a doctor so please contact them for any concerns. Please visit https://celiac.org for more information.
*CD= Celiac Disease