Maggie is at the start of her gluten-free journey. She shares in this post why her physician has recommended that she attempt a trial elimination of gluten from her diet.
How long have you been gluten-free?About six weeksWhy did you decide to go gluten-free?Following an ER visit where my airway began to close off, I went to my doctor’s to figure out what was going on. They sent me for skin prick tests and among the positive responses, I showed allergies to wheat and to eggs. We don’t believe that is what caused my severe allergy response, but it fitted with what I noticed previous about my body’s reactions to changes in my diet. Now a wheat allergy isn’t the same as a gluten allergy. Gluten is a specific protein found in wheat and in other foods. I was just tested for the broader wheat category, but given symptoms including skin and digestive issues I’ve been experiencing for a long time, that correlate with gluten intolerance my doctor suggested I try an elimination trial, removing among other foods, gluten and egg from my diet.
Maggie is following this trial elimination under the guidance of her physician. It maybe that after this elimination period and a subsequent reintroduction of foods, an intestinal biopsy would be suggested to test for Celiac disease. For Maggie to be identified as having Celiac disease she would need to have an intestinal biopsy.
What are you finding the challenges associated with being gluten-free and why is it a challenge?Since I got the results and I’ve gone gluten-free I get hungry all the time. I have to eat every 2-3 hours. I think it’ll even out, but in the meantime finding wheat free snacks that don’t contain eggs or nuts, which I also found I have issue with, is difficult. If I’m out and about and it’s hot, I can’t just take a piece of fruit. I’ve also been vegetarian for years, which adds another layer of complexity to it.What item contains gluten that most surprised you?
Soy Sauce! Actually, right now it’s the eggs that keep surprising me, they’re everywhere!What is a simple gluten-free meal that you like to prepare?I’m keeping it simple right now. Humus and a veggie medley is an easy go-to-meal.
Maggie’s frightening experience and trip to the Emergency Room prompted this trial elimination, but for most people who suspect that they may have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, the Southern Arizona Celiac Support Group has the following suggestions:
1. Identify the symptoms that you experience. Take that list to your doctor to discuss your risk for celiac disease.
- Abdominal bloating, pain and/or distention
- Indigestion and/or reflux
- Diarrhea or >3 loose stools daily
- Vomiting and/or nausea
- Pale, ‘fatty’ or foul-smelling stools that float
- Joint and bone pain
- Failure to thrive
- Easy bruising
- Hair loss
- Deficiencies in B-Vitamins
- Dental enamel defects, cavities
- Cracks in sides of mouth
- Sensitivity to bright light or sunshine
- Redness or swelling of the tongue
- Nose bleeds
- Muscle cramps
- Difficulty seeing at dusk or at night
- Tingling numbness in the legs
- Anxiety and/or depression2. Don’t go gluten-free without being tested. The accuracy and reliability of blood tests and intestinal biopsy rely on gluten in the diet. If you are nit eating gluten, then these tests cannot reliably detect celiac disease.
Celiac was once considered a rare inherited disease, but we now know 1 in 133 in our population have celiac disease making it one of the most common inherited disorders. A vast majority of individuals with celiac are undiagnosed. This Sunday Tucson Medical Center hosts the Gluten Free Awareness Expo organized by the University of Arizona Gluten Free Club. The Gluten Free Awareness Expo will be held at TMC’s Lifegain Park, from 12 noon to 4 p.m.Sunday, Nov. 17 – no charge to attend. Lifegain Park is on the north side of the TMC campus, a short distance behind the new Orthopaedic and Surgical Tower.