Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the digestive process. For people who are genetically pre-disposed to illness, such as myself, it means a big change to one’s menu.
Some of the symptoms of Celiac Disease are: constipation, fatigue, failure to thrive, short stature, abdominal bloating and pain. All of which I complained of as a kid. But back in the 1980’s, no one heard about Celiac Disease like they do today. I went to the doctor’s office frequently but was always treated for the stomach bug, or my mother just gave me Pepto Bismal. Man, I hated the flavor of that stuff, but it did help ease stomach even if only for a short time.
My symptoms continued and even worsened. Before I knew it I had environmental allergies and sensitives, food allergies and asthma. I was on all kinds of allergy and asthma medications and carried an epi-pen everywhere I went. I had so many food allergies I couldn’t eat out anywhere and there was only so much I could eat. My husband was worried I would become malnourished and suggested we look for a nutritionist. It was through the nutritionist we discovered I had Celiac Disease and that I was already malnourished and my body showed signs of it.
One sign was that I was hungry all of the time and I ate what I could but never felt full or satisfied long. The nutritionist told me it was due to what the gluten was doing to my digestive tract, destroying the finger-like projections, known as villi, that take in the nutrients from food.
So I started my gluten-free journey at age twenty-six back in 2007. Roughly nine months off gluten I was able to get pregnant which I was told I may not be able to get pregnant with how sick I was. And I also was retested for environmental allergies and food allergies with both the skin prick and RAST tests and everything came back negative. Even some new allergens were tested and they came back negative. My asthma was also gone. I was feeling so much better and I was able to lose weight. Within a week of coming off gluten containing foods I lost five pounds and steadily continued to lose weight. I lost about twenty pounds before I found out I was pregnant.
Now I am the mom of two awesome kids who loves to cook and bake gluten-free foods. My daughter, the oldest of my kids, also has issues with gluten. At two years old she sat in front of the TV and didn’t want to play much and even though she was eating, she was thin and not filling out like a child her age normally does. She was also very temperamental. When we go to the doctor’s office she was would cry and scream the whole time there even if the appointment wasn’t for her. I put all these things together and took her off gluten. Within a week I was already seeing small changes. By two weeks she started to fill out and was becoming more active. And the next time we went to the doctor’s she was calm and acted like it wasn’t that big of a deal. My daughter has not officially undergone any testing but she didn’t have to. I recognized signs from my own childhood and from knowledge I received with my diagnoses and my own research.
May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Raising awareness for Celiac Disease is very important. If it wasn’t for the nutritionist knowing about it and getting me tested for it, I don’t know where I would be today, or where my daughter would be healthwise, or would I even have a daughter? Scary thought… But it’s true. With how sick I was, I don’t know if I would have the family I do today.