There’s nothing like a big slice of homemade bread. Thank God I’m not Celiac. Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide and there is no cure for this disease. Bread and a myriad of other foods contain gluten.
When people with celiac disease eat gluten — a type of protein, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. There are also people who experience symptoms found in celiac disease, yet don’t test positive for celiac disease. This condition is referred to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS).
Symptoms found in those with celiac disease, NCGS and NCWS include ‘foggy mind’ depression, ADHD-like behaviour, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, bone or joint pain and chronic fatigue. These symptoms are all prevalent when there is gluten in their diet.
Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease and non-celiac wheat sensitivity is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. Gluten-free eating means you must avoid foods with wheat, rye and barley, such as bread and beer. Ingesting small amounts of gluten, even crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger intestinal damage.
I understand gluten-free information is vital to some of the population as it relates to Celiac disease and its associated symptoms. Being blessed with a sister, it is heart-wrenching to see her struggle as a type 1 Diabetic. LJ has had this disease for over 43 years and has structured her life around how much of what she can and cannot eat.
Type 1 Diabetes, once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, like Celiac is a chronic disease with no cure. The pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy. With medication and proper diet, this horrible disease, like Celiac can be managed.
Welcome to the age of information, where we are able to have instant, relevant access to information for a myriad of diseases and ways to promote healthy living while dealing with them. This is where I shake my head. As much as I am a supporter of being informed and doing what we can in the world to help others, sometimes this gluten-free thing has me reaching for a butter slathered, thick slice of crusty bread to comfort myself.
I’m grateful our society is gung-ho to promote healthy living and to assist those with diseases managed mostly by diet. What drives me nuts is the constant over-stating of the obvious. Gluten-free has become a catchment phrase for everything from dieting; to controlling celiac disease; to being confused with vegetarian and a myriad of other foodicts.
There are a host of gluten-free food groups that can contribute to a healthy gluten-free diet. This list includes: fruits, vegetables, meat and poultry, fish and seafood, dairy, beans, legumes and nuts. Along with this extensive list, most beverages are also gluten-free, including juices, sodas and sports drinks. Drink the water; drink the wine - they’re both gluten-free.
We are a fairly intelligent species, so a sign that promotes gluten-free strawberries is probably not necessary. This is the kind of things that bothers me. Stating the obvious and disguising it as something useful for the community isn’t helping anyone.
Gluten-free is a real-life food allergy that seems to have become a trendy dietary fad. Some people have taken it a little too far. On the upside, with the popularity of gluten-free diets there are more foods being made available for people with actual gluten intolerances.
The trendy part is more than a little extreme.There are actually signs that boast everything from gluten-free haircuts to gluten-free sheet metal. Really? Why? Keep it real and relevant people.
In researching for this column, I discovered there is an awesome online list called - Ontario Gluten Free Dining Guide at http://celiacrestaurantguide.com. Kudos to Guelph for having some fine establishments listed. This is a site than can be updated by all and is a Celiac Restaurant Guide. If you know of any place that has a Gluten Free Menu, add them to the list. This will actually help those who are looking to successfully manage their disease by diet.
To my Celiac friends out there. Don’t let the irrelevant gluten-free signs distract you. Read the labels carefully, look for gluten-free menu items; stick to what you know and enjoy dining. You deserve it!
Nancy Revie is a Guelph author, motivational speaker, fitness instructor and entertainer. Visit Nancy at www.nancyrevie.com. Her column appears every other week.