When I was hired as a Consultant Registered Dietitian the spring of 2014, my first facility that I was to cover was located in West Palm Beach, FL. Just two short weeks after being hired, I was flying down there by myself, finding my way to the hotel, and starting my first day of work as an official RD. I was tentatively scheduled to be there two months, coming home for the weekend every two weeks. It was scary, exciting, difficult, and worth it. On that first trip back, I called Matt while I was at the airport. He explained that his stomach was in a great deal of pain, and all of a sudden he looked like he was a few months pregnant. It was bizarre on all counts. He thought perhaps it was something he ate. After dealing with this extreme discomfort for several more days with no relief in sight, he decided to seek the help of his family physician. Long story short and several tests and doctor’s visits later, it was discovered that his gallbladder was very low functioning, and after a conclusive biopsy, he was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I never ever thought he would be diagnosed with such a disease. Despite my education, I simply blanked. Thankfully, one of my dearest friends also has Celiac Disease and was able to help me get a grip on his new lifestyle and where to begin. I was and am so grateful for her help!
It’s extremely unfortunate that many people either go undiagnosed or may be misdiagnosed, living with symptoms for years without realizing the root cause. I’m thankful that his was detected, yet he was nearly 31 years old. I only wish it would’ve been discovered far sooner.
Our journey with cooking and eating gluten free together has actually been fun! I still am upset for him that he cannot eat many things that he used to and that I do, but he’s been a trooper through it. I will say that despite being what we believed was very careful when cooking and when dining out, I was devastated that his follow-up results came back showing that gluten was still very much making its way into his diet. I cannot say this isn’t frustrating. Others just do not understand how little of contamination can be harmful to him. On the one hand, it’s a blessing that he isn’t sensitive and doesn’t experience pain or symptoms associated with the unknown presence of gluten. On the other hand, it’s bad because he therefore does not know when it occurs. Such a catch 22.
I wanted this post to both highlight the awareness to the disease and to allow me to share some of our creations over the last 15 months. I will end by saying that if you have no trouble with gluten but want to lose weight or to simply follow a gluten free lifestyle because you believe it to be healthier, do NOT do this. Gluten free is not a weight loss lifestyle, and it can possibly lead to some deficiencies if one is not careful. Some foods are higher in sugar and lower in fiber, so 100% whole wheat and whole grains are ideal. There is no reason to follow such a restrictive diet without a diagnosis. If you know someone who is dealing with this disease, please give them all the encouragement that you can and send them to my blog for some inspiration!