Thursday, May 15, 2014

Be aware ... or beware

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month!
Before I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease, I thought I was dying. Among a host of seemingly unrelated symptoms, I was losing weight without trying; I was always tired; I was tethered to the bathroom because of chronic diarrhea; I was bloated and gassy, no matter what I ate. Over a period of many years, I visited several different doctors and was told I had IBS, in one case; that I should take iron supplements, in another case; that I just needed to drink more water; that I was going through menopause and that the symptoms would eventually diminish.

It wasn’t until I became dangerously anemic that a physician finally decided to give me a blood test to check for celiac disease—and Bingo! The blood test came back positive.

My experience is typical. According to, six to ten years is the average time a person waits to be diagnosed with celiac disease. During that time, that person can experience symptoms ranging from constipation to diarrhea, weight loss to weight gain, anemia to skin rashes. And the list goes on and on. Because CD shares symptoms with so many other illnesses, and because it affects everyone differently, the disease is difficult to diagnose.

That’s one reason that May has been designated as Celiac Awareness Month. reports that an estimated 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease, yet 83% are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, as I was. If anyone in your family has celiac disease, or if you suffer from unexplained health issues, ask your physician to test you.

For a free Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist, go to and answer the simple questionnaire. The site will give you an idea of what types of symptoms or conditions may be an indication of celiac disease.

The day my doctor told me I had celiac disease, I gained a new lease on life. That diagnosis set me on a path to regaining my health and restoring my lifestyle!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Easier and easier ...

Aldi has a new line of gluten-free products!

I have to admit that I’m not a very good consumer advocate. I don’t often take the time to write to companies about their products—either to complain or to compliment.  But this week I made an exception and wrote to Aldi to compliment them for bringing out their new gluten-free line of LiveGfree products on a trial basis and to encourage them to please, please keep it up!

While I have found that I usually function better if I avoid all gluten, grains, and even sugar, many people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance can happily consume foods containing those ingredients, which are contained in most of the LiveGfree offerings. How wonderful for Aldi shoppers to be able to buy GF products such as cornbread, pizza, or pancake mixes, cookies, pasta, and even gluten-free chicken nuggets, under one roof without having to traipse all over town!

I hope Aldi will continue to stock this new line—and I hope that gluten-avoiders everywhere will take the time to thank (and to patronize) the many stores and restaurants that are attempting to make life easier for us. 

(By the way, thanks to my friends and family who tipped me off to Aldi’s new products! I love to hear about your discoveries!)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Small victories

Sometimes the gluten-free diet is an uphill struggle, I’m not gonna lie. No matter how positive you try to be, there are days when you just want to go to your room, put your cell phone on mute, turn off the lights, and pull the covers over your head.

Sometimes I can’t face my daily activities, especially if they involve having to eat somewhere besides home, because I just don’t feel like going through the ask-educate-defend-explain routine that it takes to order a safe meal.

Last year I drove weekly the 30 miles to my hometown to do a little work, to walk with my friends, and to eat lunch with my mom and my pal Nancy. We almost always ate at Wendy’s because it was quick and inexpensive, and because they serve an Apple Pecan Chicken Salad that is safe for me to eat.

Oops, wait! I should say almost safe for me to eat. For some reason, the packet of pecans that Wendy’s gives you to put on the salad—the icing on the cake, as far as I’m concerned, since I love nuts—has a little bonus ingredient listed on the packet: wheat!

“For crying out loud,” I exclaimed each week, as I passed my pecans to Nancy, “Why do the nuts contain wheat?!?”

Although the Wendy’s salad was a go-to favorite, even without the nuts, I stopped eating raw salads for a while (at Wendy’s or elsewhere), after I had an unexplained flare up of celiac symptoms early in the year. After following a Specific Carbohydrate Diet for 90 days, the symptoms have fortunately subsided, and I have been able to reintroduce salads to my diet with good success.

So, last week, when Doug and I were traveling in the Atlanta area, I stopped at Wendy’s for my first Apple Pecan Chicken Salad in three months, and—lo and behold!—the nuts came in a new package with my favorite words, “Gluten-Free,” printed clearly on the front!

Thanks to someone at Wendy’s who is listening to the ask-educate-defend-explain routine of folks who are gluten intolerant, I can now have my entire salad—and eat it, too!