As the remnants of four years of college exploded around the house, I was in the kitchen taking stock of my pantry. The time had come to get serious and set to work on making the necessary changes. It’s an eye popping experience to start reading labels and see what contains wheat, barley or rye. Cake, pancake and muffin mixes? Out the door. Bread crumbs & croutons? See ya later. Salad dressing packets and gravy mixes? Sayonara. Twizzlers licorice? You’ve got to be kidding me…
As I cleaned out, I had a momentary feeling of defeat. Not being able to eat grains just seemed so un-American to me. I mean really…even our most patriotic song “America the Beautiful” talks about the “amber waves of grain”. However.. my excitement at the prospect of feeling better was keeping me motivated.
Dr. Joe, my gastroenterologist, recommended I go see his nutritionist who also happens to have celiac. While I already have my own world-class nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic, my appointment with her was still weeks away, so I thought I should go see this local guy since he’s an embodiment of living with celiac. He did not disappoint.
A few tidbits of what I learned:
*Cross-contamination: No, I cannot get away with just scraping the creamy part off of the graham cracker crust on the chocolate chip cheesecake my fellow teachers made for my birthday. That would be classic cross contamination. ~sigh~
*Ingesting as little as one-eighth of a teaspoon causes damage to the small intestine. My kitchen is now equipped with two toasters. One for me and one for the normal eating people of the house.
*Continual cheating may result in the inability of the villi to fully regenerate and disallow complete absorption of nutrients.
*The malabsorption of nutrients with celiac disease can affect any organ of the body, and thus cause symptoms seemingly unrelated to the digestive system.
*The symptoms of celiac disease are as varied as the nutritional deficiencies caused by the lack of absorption.
Oy. I’m not sure I felt better or worse after meeting with him. I said to my daughter as we were walking out: This is going to be a challenge.
But fortunately for me…
Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.
~Joshua J. Marine