Bagels, bread, crackers, pizza, pasta - imagine life without any of these things. It may sound unbearable, but for the 1 in 133 people in the United States that suffer from Celiac Disease, this is their daily reality.
“I screen my food more than most people could ever imagine. Even a crumb, a contaminated cutting board, or someone drinking out of my glass can (and has) made me sick!” says Cynthia Green, one of our very own bracelet designers who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2007.
Celiac Disease is a lifelong autoimmune condition. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten (like the foods listed above), it creates a toxic reaction that damages the small intestine and doesn’t allow food to be absorbed properly. Gluten is the name of a protein that is found in wheat and related grains, and is very harmful to certain people. The only real treatment for Celiac Disease is a strict, gluten-free diet.
However, eating gluten-free doesn’t have to lower quality of life. People with Celiac Disease can often eat the same things other people eat, if they can find a gluten-free alternative. Thanks to companies who make gluten-free substitutions for dietary staples, people with Celiac Disease are able to lead normal, healthy lives.
“I have learned to make my most favorite foods gluten-free, and I know it doesn't do any good to feel sorry for myself! Having a good attitude, though it's hard right after diagnosis, makes a big difference,” Cynthia advises. “After some culinary experimenting, I get along just fine and don't even think about what I'm ‘missing’ as I make yummy dinners for me and my family.”
Since switching to a gluten-free diet, Cynthia says she has had more energy, has become more active, and has lost weight. She has met and formed relationships with people who share her condition. In fact, one of her gluten-free friends introduced her to the man that would later become her husband!
“Having Celiac Disease is definitely life-changing, but not necessarily negative. You never know what good things it will bring to your life as well. For me, it brought the two things that matter the most to me: my health and my new family.”
If you are sensitive to gluten or suffer from Celiac Disease or a wheat allergy, you should engrave that information on a medical ID tag to alert medical personnel to your condition. Check with your doctor to see what they recommend you have engraved on your medical ID. Here are a few examples of what you could engrave on your medical ID tag if you have Celiac Disease: