My week with Celiac… Day #3.

No, I have not been diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Celiac is another autoimmune disease that occurs in about one half of one percent of the general population. However, according to JDRF, about 1 in 10 people with Type 1 Diabetes is eventually diagnosed with Celiac. According to ADA standards just released, as many as 16 percent of Type 1s could be living with Celiac. During this week, I’ll be living and writing about the gluten-fee life from the perspective of someone newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Thanks to Nikki at Celiabetes for her very valuable information and feedback for this series.

Since yesterday was a holiday here in the USA, and I was lucky enough to have the day off, today was the first day of the workweek.

So what do you do when you’re trying to eat gluten free, but you can’t work from home (at least not today)?

The important thing for me is to get breakfast early, before I take off for the office. That means I only have to concentrate on one gluten free meal away from home. But again, cross-contamination can be a real issue. Our expert Nikki says:

“If you have a work fridge, you can keep it in there, but it’s best to keep it on the top shelf to avoid any gluten falling from another shelf onto your food. And be very careful with workplace microwaves- keep your food thoroughly covered at all times. Workplace toasters are off limits. Toast your gluten free bread at home and bring it. I also keep healthy gluten free snacks in my desk (that are diabetes-friendly), like unseasoned roasted almonds, no-sugar-added fruit cups, and gluten free granola bars (I like Kind Bars… they taste the best). Stay away from work potlucks- nothing is safe, no matter what someone tells you. It’s very easy to get cross-contaminated by a person with good intentions that doesn’t know all of the cross-contamination risks.”

So I picked a safe, easy lunch today (more about that down below). It was something that I didn’t have to refrigerate, so I just tucked it into my desk. For the rest of the week, I’ll probably be doing a lot of salads and fruits, and maybe a gluten free cracker or two. Or three.

But let’s look at the bigger work picture too. I know Scully has written about this before. Again, the similarities with Type 1 Diabetes is remarkable. If someone brings bagels to work in the morning, you can’t have any. And you have to explain why to everyone who wants you to indulge but doesn’t get it. And then sometimes they still don’t get it. Pizza party at lunch? No thanks… can’t really do that either.

Even if someone is thoughtful enough to bring a salad or fruit, you have to be concerned with whether your well-intentioned co-worker put croutons on top of the salad, or whether the fruit was packaged in a processing plant where wheat, rye, oat, barley, or malt were processed. To be honest, I don’t usually partake in most of the food that my colleagues bring to work, so it won’t bother me to skip it for a week. I love their earnestness in thinking about me and the way they’re promoting camaraderie with food, but I just can’t have any right now. I hope they’ll understand. I think they will.

Actually, I wonder how people with Type 1 Diabetes handle these kinds of things after they’re diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Do you view it as “Great, now I have to explain two diseases”? Or do you just think “Well, if I just avoid everything, I won’t have to explain anything”? What a crappy conundrum.

So… what did I eat today?

Breakfast: I tried out Trader Joe’s Cranberry Maple Nut Granola. Tastes good, holds up under milk. Total carb count: I measured out the ¾ cup serving from the nutrition label, noted as 35g… but it hit my BG like about 55g

Lunch: Product Review Time! Since I was chicken about everything the first time today, and because I saw it in Target and instantly thought “Product Review”, I picked up the Go Picnic Turkey Pepperoni and Cheese ready-to-eat meal.

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This nifty little package is all gluten free. Turkey pepperoni, cheese spread, crackers, dried cranberries & pineapple, and a little chocolatey toffee thing. Even has a wooden spoon (that I took out of its wrapping for the photo) to scoop the cheese out. Pretty edible. It’s a nice thing to take for lunch when you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to make something. Total carb count: 29g

Dinner: I have to admit that I didn’t believe the carbohydrate count on the box from lunch and I over-bolused. So I had a bit of a low right at the end of the workday. One of those things, don’t want to waste a whole blog post on it. But I got home and practically inhaled some gluten free ham and a baked potato. Not the healthiest option of the week so far. Total carb count: 49g

I tend to think of work as a wild card. A chance to feel like the poor red-headed stepchild who’s left out of everything, a chance to test your resolve, a chance to educate. Some days, you just don’t know how it’s going to go, or how you’ll react. I guess that’s where knowing what you need to do and having a meal plan makes sense. At least for me anyway. Knowing and having a plan always helps me more than winging it. Even if winging it is more fun sometimes.

Carb counts are estimates only. Check with a registered dietician to find out what a healthy carb count is for you.

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  • seejendance  On January 23, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Packaged lunch items like that make me nervous. How was the sodium content?


    • StephenS  On January 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      Jen, I knew there had to be a reason why I liked it! I had to go back and check… 890g of sodium in the package! That’s 37 percent of the recommended daily amount. Good catch.


      • seejendance  On January 23, 2013 at 1:37 pm

        Yeaaaahhh… sounds about right. It just made me think of Lunchables from when I was a kid.


  • scully  On January 24, 2013 at 7:56 am

    have you tried any gluten free bread yet?
    it’s a slippery slope between taste, texture,cost and BG damage. I’m curious what someone who doesn’t have celiac thinks of the (sometimes sad) GF bread options.
    you’re doing pretty awesome at this. right down to the last detail!


    • Nikki  On January 24, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      Right on, Scully. GF bread tastes somewhere between Ok and Ish. Some can be as much as 25g of carb per slice, too, which can turn into a BG landmine. And that’s besides the fact that most start at $5 a (small) loaf and up.


  • Nikki  On January 24, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Boy you really hit the nail on the head about eating at work. Yes, I do often find myself having to explain two diseases, and yes, I think it would have been easier to just have people think I’m the world’s pickiest eater than having to explain dual medical diets. If it wasn’t for the opportunity to educate people about the two diseases (and dispell a lot of the myths they’ve heard), I probably wouldn’t have told anyone.


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