Tag Archives: Celiac

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.
 
 
 

My week with Celiac… Day #2

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.

One thing was certain as I woke up this morning: I needed to go to the grocery store.

At the grocery store-- This is good...

At the grocery store– This is good…

...And this is bad

…And this is bad

So you would think that shopping gluten free at the grocery store would be easy. Buy all fruits and vegetables, skip the chips and cookies aisle. Well, it’s not quite that easy.

What about meats? It turns out you can’t just pick up any kind of meat. Deli meats in particular are off limits. There are some packaged lunch meats that you can go with. But Every. Single. Thing. requires you to look at the nutritional labels and list of ingredients that come with them. You have to look for the obvious no-nos: No wheat, barley, rye, oat, or malt. But you also need to be aware of how things are processed, and where they’re processed, and when in doubt, put it back on the shelf. Because if you have Celiac Disease, any gluten is bad. And you just can’t take a chance.

According to Nikki:

“I do primarily stick to unseasoned, unprocessed protein/meat, and fruits and fresh veggies. It’s healthier anyway! Plan on staying away from any and all things in the deli. Nothing is safe, as cross contamination is very likely. Same with the meat deli; even if you find a gluten-free lunch meat, it’s likely been cross-contaminated on the meat-slicing machines that have been used to cut gluten-containing lunch meat and cheeses.”

Once I made my way through the produce– green onions, kumato tomatoes (if you knew how the everyday red tomatoes are grown, picked, and processed in the American Southeast, you’d never eat another one again), leeks, lettuce, potatoes, strawberries. Next came the deli counter. After Nikki’s input, I just passed it by. Then through the aisle with all of the cereal, cereal bars, oatmeal, etc. I’m not a big cereal eater, so I didn’t get anything there. I did pick up a box of oatmeal for The Great Spousal Unit, which you’ll see in the back of the photo below (put it in a separate bag… not sure if that’s necessary, but better safe than sorry).

What I really wanted there was some instant grits. I love having instant grits and turkey sausage on a cold morning. When I looked at the ingredients on the back, I saw a lot of ingredients, but nothing that jumped out at me as gluten. Still, it didn’t seem right. So I had to do some additional research. I went to the Quaker website to see if their Quaker Instant Grits are really gluten free. Here’s what they said:

“The oats we buy are handled and transported in bulk by our suppliers. Cross contact can occur if the oats are grown in fields or transported in vehicles that once contained other grains. Since the kernels of the other grains are similar in size, shape and color to the oat kernel, it is almost impossible to separate them.

Although wheat, rye and barley are not part of the ingredients in Quaker Steel Cut, Quaker Old Fashioned, Quaker Quick Oats, Corn Bran Crunch, Grits and Cornmeal there is the possibility that they could contain trace amounts of these grains. For these reasons, we’ve never claimed these products are gluten free.”

Fair enough, Quaker. I’ll have to wait on the grits until next week.

As I made my way through the store, I found myself examining every product label in a way that I haven’t for years. And I found a few surprises. I found a breakfast sausage that is gluten free. I also found a package containing “Crispy Battered Gluten Free Haddock” from a company called Starfish. Plus, I found a gluten free pizza dough mix and gluten free lunch meat. So it won’t be all roughage and blandness this week.

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What did I eat today?

Breakfast: Same as yesterday. Green onions, some frozen peppers from our garden this summer, and a kumato tomato. I put all of that in my bowl with a couple of eggs and that was my breakfast. I should probably modify my carb count for the small amount of tomato in this breakfast. Total carb count: 5g

Lunch: Salad with lunch meat, chopped carrots, olives (I love olives), sunflower seeds (I love sunflower seeds too), and tomato. Total carb count: 20g (a whole tomato this time)

Dinner: I started with a small salad. Then, we made pizza!

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Bob’s Red Mill pizza crust mix and DelGrosso pizza sauce are both gluten free. And their product labels make a big deal out of being gluten free and keeping their product free from cross-contamination.

It’s a little weird working with a gluten free pizza mix. Everything winds up a little wetter than a flour-based crust. I was wondering if it would hold up under sauce, a little ham, and tomato. In the end, it held up well. The finished product was close enough to a gluten filled pizza that I really couldn’t tell much of a difference. I would make and eat this again.

Total carb count: 48g (I had three slices of pizza… it must have been pretty good)

The grocery store hurdle is out of the way. Most of what I have to worry about now is cross-contamination, I think. And possibly getting bored with this type of eating. Time to get creative. Look out gluten free websites. I’m on the lookout for recipes. More to come.

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 #1

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.

Toward the end of a Wednesday DSMA Twitter chat a few weeks ago, I had a short conversation with Nikki from Celiabetes. Nikki has been living with the triple threat of Type 1 Diabetes, Grave’s Disease, and Celiac Disease since 2010. During our conversation, Nikki made a very good case for how living with Celiac is difficult… from diet to shopping to eating out to going to work every day. And that gave me an idea: Borrowing on the Be T1D for a Day initiative from JDRF back in November, I thought… what if I spent a week living like someone newly diagnosed with Celiac? And then wrote about it?

First a description of Celiac Disease: According to the Mayo Clinic website, “Celiac (SEE-lee-ak) disease is a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is primarily found in bread, pasta, cookies, pizza crust and many other foods containing wheat, barley or rye. (Editor’s Note: Add in oat and malt.) People with celiac disease who eat foods containing gluten experience an immune reaction in their small intestines, causing damage to the inner surface of the small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients.”

So that means no wheat, barley, rye, oat, or malt.

Nikki was gracious enough to answer a bunch of questions I sent her, and I’ll probably share some of her insights this week. She is an absolute encyclopedia of knowledge on this subject. I read through all of the information she gave me, I ordered Gluten Free for Dummies from Amazon, and then I set everything aside. I ignored it for about two weeks. Why? Because, while it would have been easy to do weeks of research, prepare, and then do this week’s worth of diets, it wouldn’t be authentic. Instead, I gave everything the once-over, then put it away until today. Because if you’re newly diagnosed, you don’t get weeks worth of research first. Today I got everything out again and started the same process that probably everyone newly diagnosed with Celiac experiences… what do I eat next?

One of the things Nikki impressed upon me is that not only do I have to avoid any gluten in my diet, I have to avoid any cross-contamination that might occur by cooking in a pan that’s previously been used for something with gluten in it. And when buying pre-packaged products or eating out… wow. In Nikki’s words:

“When it comes to food prep, or eating at someone else’s house, or even going out to eat, the main concern for a person with Celiac Disease is cross-contamination. Gluten is a very sticky binder, and it cannot be removed from certain porous surfaces, like cutting boards, plastic containers, wooden spoons, spatulas, food flippers, pizza stones, and non-stick pans that have scratches. Silverware should be fine as long as it’s been thoroughly washed, same with plates/bowls (as long as they are not plastic). Glassware is fine to wash and use.”

So instead of figuring out what to eat, I first had to make sure I had a skillet, saucepan, and utensils that I could cook with.

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Aaaaand… what did I eat today?

Breakfast: Since I couldn’t do much without something to cook in, I just got a glass bowl out and chopped up some green onions (known by many as scallions), some frozen peppers from our garden this summer, and a kumato tomato. I put all of that in my bowl with a couple of eggs and that was my breakfast. Total carb count: 0g

Lunch: I haven’t had the chance to get to the grocery store yet, so I just winged it. I made some rice, added some smoked ham (I lucked out and it was gluten free) and another small tomato, and that was it. Total carb count: 36g

Dinner: That was the best of all today. The Great Spousal Unit wanted to make some Turkey Soup anyway, so she got out the leftovers from the holidays that she was saving. She added a little fresh zucchini, yellow squash, potatoes (potatoes are gluten free), green beans, and a little rice left over from lunch. She let it sit in the crock pot for about six hours, and here’s what the finished product looked like:

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Total carb count: 30g (mostly from potatoes)

I guess it was a good start to the week. But there were some real deja vu moments for me today. For the first time since my Diabetes diagnosis, I was confronted with “What do I do next?” and “Is the next thing I eat going to kill me?”. And I have six more days of this left. Imagine if it was you, for real, and you had the rest of your life to live with Celiac. And Type 1 Diabetes. More to come.

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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