Category Archives: My week with Celiac

My week with Celiac… Day #7

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’ve been living and writing about the gluten-fee life from the perspective of someone newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Muy Muchas Gracias to Nikki at Celiabetes who has been a tremendous resource, providing very valuable information and feedback for this series.

Wow, I can’t believe this week is almost over. It’s been an eye-opener, in a number of ways.

Today, we decided to try to go out. Since it’s so bloody cold here these days, we opted for going out to lunch rather than going out to dinner. How do we prepare, how do we handle eating gluten free in a restaurant environment? I’ll have to refer to Nikki one more time:

“You’ve probably noticed that there are lots of sit-down restaurants that have gluten free menus nowadays. The larger the chain, the more likely it is. Or the more expensive it is, the more likely it is. The key here is to tell your server right away that you have a “gluten allergy” and cannot eat gluten. Even though Celiac Disease is not a gluten allergy, it’s the easiest concept for other people to understand. I love PF Chang’s, Outback Steakhouse, Chili’s, Wildifire/Bonfire, and Chianti Grille.”

Nikki also says that fast food joints are almost all out of bounds for the GF eater. But Wendy’s and Chipotle do have options if you also inform them of your “gluten allergy”.

The Great Spousal Unit and I decided that we wanted to try something local. So we went to The Flying Avocado. One of our favorite places to get lunch, it’s a pretty healthy eatery anyway, and we thought we would try to see what we could do within the confines of their menu.

When we went to the counter to order, I just said “Hey, I have a gluten allergy… I can’t eat any gluten. Do you have any recommendations for me?”. The person behind the counter said, “Hmmmm… let me check”. She went in the back for a minute, and when she came back, she said that they didn’t have any gluten free wraps left, but they had some gluten free bread. Awesome! I didn’t really expect to get a gluten free meal without getting a salad, so this was a surprise. It was a good sandwich too… bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado. I had a side salad with it, and if you look closely, you’ll see some GF lentil chips in a plastic bag that we brought from home. And no, I didn’t put the dressing on my salad, and my sandwich was plain, without mayo or anything like that.

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Could I have been subject to some cross-contamination? Maybe. But to be honest, I was so excited to be offered gluten free bread that I didn’t see on the menu, I forgot to ask about their procedures in the kitchen. Simply put, it was delicious. If you live around here, I would definitely recommend this place.

All in all, I’d say I was extremely lucky in my dining out. I’m not sure I’d have done as well anywhere else locally.

Hey, I also promised to write about my new favorite cookies. That’s right– they are my new favorites… and they are gluten free. Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies are just as described. A very nice treat. Two cookies have 18g of carbohydrates.

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A couple of other items from this week:

– I think I was a little tough on the Kinnikinnick brand chocolate chip muffins yesterday. I’m not a big fan of chocolate chip muffins, so that probably had something to do with it. Kinnikinnick seems to go out of their way to do gluten free and do it right, using proper processing and inventing new gluten free options all the time.
 
 
In the Day #5 post, I had a photo of guacamole that I made next to a huge basket of lentil chips. Not sure if I made it clear that I did not eat that entire basket of chips. It was shared among four of us in the house that night. I love savory snacks, but that’s a lot even for me.
 
 
– I think it’s funny that I’ve picked up a bunch of Twitter followers this week, from gluten free purveyors of this and that. Advice, food, diets, you name it. Thanks for the follows, but I’m not sure I’m going to give you a lot after today. But keep following anyway, all right?
 
 
– Thanks to everyone who left comments this week. Lots of great feedback, for which I’m always grateful. By the way, I did bolus for half of the protein in my steak last night, and it worked great!
 
 
– Thanks again to Nikki for answering my questions and providing support in this endeavor. Seriously, if you want to know anything about Celiac Disease or eating gluten free, look her up. Or contact me, and I’ll put you in touch with her.
 
 
What did I eat on the last day of my quest?

Breakfast: One egg and a slice of the Udi’s whole grain bread from yesterday. Total Carb Count: 16g

Lunch: From The Flying Avocado, a California BLT, with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado, plus a side salad. I shouldn’t have, but I ate it all. Total Carb Count: 51g

Dinner: We picked up some shrimp from the seafood counter at the store. A little salt and pepper, and we cooked it in some olive oil with chopped garlic in there too. Topped it with some fresh parsley. Put it on top of a salad with lettuce, shredded carrot, olive, green onion, and sunflower seeds, and grated some Iberico cheese on top (iberico is made from cow, sheep, and goat milk). Yummy. Some fresh strawberries for dessert. Total Carb Count: With the strawberries, I’m gonna guess it was about 40g

The last day of eating gluten free was a very good day. Which begs the question: will I ever do this again? Well, I don’t feel like I was starving myself. There were some fairly delicious options. It did take a lot more diligence in terms of reading nutrition labels and avoiding cross-contamination.

Really, it’s too early to tell. But I’m thinking yeah, I could do this again.

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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My week with Celiac… Day #6

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.

It’s day 6 of eating gluten free, just like someone newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease. In yesterday’s post, I promised to write about gluten free bread.

When talking to people about this week, probably the most asked question was “Did you try any gluten free bread?” Scully asked about it too in one of the comments. And Nikki followed up that comment with one of her own. Here’s how it went:

From Scully: “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.”

From Nikki: “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.”

These comments make me think about sugar free options for People With Diabetes. To us PWDs (actually, to all of us), a sugar free option of a normally sugar laden goodie is just not as tasty. So maybe it’s the same with Celiacs and gluten free bread. Or any other processed thing that is often made from a flour, barley, malt, rye, or oat base. Not as good. And too expensive. And too hard to find. And the thing is, as a PWD, I can eat the stuff with sugar in it… I just have to bolus for it. But if you’re dealing with Celiac Disease, you don’t have the option to do something like that and still eat a pastrami on Wonder Bread.

After all of that pontificating (don’t you love those big words?), I am happy to report that I found a delicious gluten free bread. Udi’s Soft and Hearty Whole Grain Bread is the real deal. To me, it tastes just like flour-based bread. It is expensive– $4.79 per loaf, which has about 16 slices in it. That’s pricey. The carb count isn’t bad compared to other breads. 22 grams of carbohydrates in 2 slices, compared with 28-30 grams per 2 slices of flour-based bread. All of us in the house tried it out, and we all liked it a lot. I toasted it in the oven with a some garlic, celery salt, and butter. Your basic garlic toast. And it was so yummy. So if you have deep enough pockets to afford it, I would definitely recommend the Udi’s.

What else did I eat today?

Breakfast: I tried another new product:

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The brand name here makes me giggle a little. When I was younger, Kinnikinnick was another code word for… grass. Ganja. Weed. Marijuana. Unfortunately, while decent, these muffins didn’t leave me with the same kind of feeling. Not that I would know this. But you get my drift, I hope. Total Carb Count per muffin: 28g

Lunch: More gluten free lunch meat, and cheese on some GF crackers. I also had some fresh strawberries which, while they’re probably not from the northern hemisphere right now, were still very nice. Total Carb Count: 38g

Dinner: The Great Spousal Unit decided that I should somehow be rewarded for going gluten free this week, so she picked up some steaks and potatoes. I cooked up the steaks in my brand new cast iron skillet, which I’ve been wanting for some time. Total Carb Count: 49g

I was going to write about my new favorite cookies… but it’s already late on a very busy Friday during a very busy week. So I’ll save that for tomorrow. Until then, here’s hoping the rest of your week is fantastic.

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

My week with Celiac… Day #5

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.

I have to admit that I haven’t gotten too deep into making recipes this week. I’ve got two more days of exclusively gluten free eating left, and I still want to come up with something great. Okay, well, I did make some guacamole to snack on with some lentil chips before dinner.

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2 very ripe avacados
1 tablespoon plain yogurt (just to make it creamy)
1 finely diced jalapeno
1 diced tomato
Salt and Pepper to taste
A little chopped fresh cilantro

Add everything in about that order and mix it up. Very tasty.

Also, I’m finding it difficult to stay away from the processed foods this week. That’s partly due to having a busy week, partly because I wanted to check out what’s available in the market, and partly because The Great Spousal Unit has made dinner every night since Monday. Dinner is the one meal during the workweek where I have a little time to do something extra, something unique. But not much of a chance so far. Hopefully tomorrow, because I think we’re going to try to eat out on Saturday night. That should be interesting.

When you eat gluten free… even though you’re eating healthier… there’s still some danger in eating processed foods. When I asked Nikki what foods are her favorites, and if I should try anything specific this week, here’s what she had to say:

“Most gluten-free processed foods (bread, snacks, desserts) are high carb and high GI-Index foods, because they are mostly made from white or brown rice flour, so I find most are not diabetes-friendly. I do occasionally eat processed foods, such as Udi’s frozen pizza crusts, Rudi’s gluten-free tortillas, and a great gluten-free pasta brand is Tinkyada (found at SuperTarget in the pasta aisle and most grocery stores). If you eat cereal, Chex offers several gluten free varieties and many of the co-op stores offer gluten free cereals. There is now a gluten free Rice Krispies that tastes just like “normal” Rice Krispies. They use molasses instead of malt as the ingredient (malt is gluten). In the baking aisle, you’ll likely find a few gluten free cake and brownie mixes from Betty Crocker, Bob’s Red Mill or Gluten Free Pantry. If you can find Gluten Free Pantry Chocolate Truffle Brownie Mix, I highly recommend it. DELISH.”

Anyway, right now it seems like I’m eating less fresh stuff, and more packaged stuff. But actually, I’m still eating more fresh foods than I have for a while. And I’m starting to like how that makes me feel. So it’s not all bad.

What did I eat today?

Breakfast: I scrambled an egg with green onion and tomato, and grated a little manchego cheese on top. Also nuked a gluten free sausage link. Total Carb Count: 10g

Lunch: I had a little chicken breast left from last night’s dinner, along with some more manchego (did I mention that I love manchego cheese?), and a pineapple cup. Total Carb Count: 48g

Dinner: Maureen made some rice along with some ground turkey, and put it in the fridge for me while she went to walk a couple of dogs. Doesn’t sound like much, but I added some homemade chicken stock, tomato, fresh rosemary, and the last of the manchego. In the end, pretty good. Total Carb Count (including the chips and guacamole): 58g

Two more days left in my gluten-free quest. Tomorrow, I’ll try to tackle gluten free bread… and talk about my new favorite cookies!

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

My week with Celiac… Day #4

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 I’ve made it to the midweek point, I thought I’d answer a couple of questions that came up in the comments this week.

From Scott at Rolling in the D: “Maybe you’ll discuss this in a future post, but I seriously wonder how much more all of this is costing you versus your regular shopping trip. I always find healthier foods to be more expensive — which is the main reason I generally don’t eat them.”

Well Scott, I can tell you that when it comes to food, I’m not spending any more to eat gluten free than I was before this week. The grocery bills, the individual items, they seem to come to about the same at the checkout.

I think the extra costs that occur come with buying extra stuff, like new cooking utensils and new saucepans, new skillets. Basically outfitting your kitchen all over again with new items so you can avoid any possible cross-contamination. Also, there’s an extra cost of just having to think about everything you put into your mouth, but in a different way than you do as a Person With Diabetes. I can admit to feeling some of that extra whatever-it-is this week. In a word, it’s burdensome. It feels like an extra burden. And yes, there’s a cost to that.

From Jen at SeeJenDance: “Out of curiousity, how have your blood sugars been running since you’ve cut out grains? Since I’ve cut back on floury substances to stop spiking, I’ve been running lower than normal.”

Jen, I am indeed running lower than normal. I won’t bore everyone by leaving all of my BG readings from the meter, but I can tell you that only once have I had a reading above 140. I’ve almost always been below 100. And here’s my daily insulin usage for the three days before and the three days after going gluten free:

January 17: 61 units
January 18: 54 units
January 19: 62 units

January 20: 46 units
January 21: 45 units
January 22: 46 units

Not too bad, eh?

On to today’s menu:

Breakfast: I did the Trader Joe’s Cranberry Maple Nut Granola again. This time, I got the bolus right at a .Total Carb Count: 55g

Lunch: Leftovers today. A little of the turkey soup that was left from Sunday, and a slice of pizza left over from Monday. Total Carb Count: 32g

Dinner: A great big friggin’ salad. Actually, it was pretty good. I cooked a skinless, boneless chicken breast with a little kosher salt, pepper, and oregano that I got from the herb garden before it got bone-chilling cold outside. Threw that on top with some Wish Bone Blue Cheese dressing (yes, it’s gluten free and delicious, if fat-laden). Also had some gluten free lentil chips I found at the store with some hummus. Total Carb Count: 22g

It’s been an interesting week so far. Can’t believe I’m already four days in. Keep those questions coming.

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

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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