Celiac Disease is a Real Thing (and it sucks)

May is Celiac Awareness month!

Celine Di-what-ness Month?” you may rightfully ask.

To which I would say: “Exactly.”

Celi­ac Dis­ease is an autoim­mune dis­or­der which caus­es a person’s immune sys­tem to attack their small intes­tine when gluten is ingest­ed. This dam­ages vil­li: micro­scop­ic, fin­ger­like struc­tures which are respon­si­ble for the absorp­tion of nutrients.

VILLI: think of them as a a shag car­pet in your small intes­tine that absorbs nutri­ents. They get dam­aged down to the nub if a Celi­ac ingests even trace amounts of Gluten. (I was gonna use the Mus­tard Foundation’s illus­tra­tion, but this one is much better)

This autoim­mune reac­tion, paired with the body’s inabil­i­ty to absorb nutri­ents (mal­nu­tri­tion) cre­ates a whole slew of health issues.

Diar­rhea?” You bet!

Fatigue, rash­es, and headaches?” Of course!

Depres­sion, anx­i­ety, joint pain, hair loss, and a myr­i­ad of oth­er symp­toms?” Damn straight.

About 1% of the pop­u­la­tion has Celi­ac dis­ease, but, of those, only 30% know they have it.

I used to be one of them. For decades I suf­fered silent­ly. It had a pro­found­ly neg­a­tive effect on my life in count­less ways. Final­ly in 2016 I was diag­nosed and have been slow­ly, but sure­ly, recov­er­ing ever since.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, there are still a shit­load (pun intend­ed) of peo­ple out there suf­fer­ing need­less­ly: sim­ply because they’re ingest­ing a pro­tein found in wheat, bar­ley and rye called Gluten. It is found in all kinds of foods: bread, pas­ta, beer, crack­ers, sauces, etc…

Wait a minute, J, I thought gluten was just some­thing hip­sters avoid so they can fit into their rompers/romphims.”

Don’t wor­ry, it’s not beer (which, BTW, con­tains gluten).

I know! I did too! I used to make fun of the whole Gluten Free thing. One of my favorite things to do was replac­ing parts of the intro to the 1983 Def Lep­pard clas­sic, “Rock of Ages” with the word “Gluten.”

And yes, there is a gluten-free craze sweep­ing the nation for…reasons…that have to do with the InstaFa­mous. How­ev­er, most doc­tors say that eat­ing gluten free isn’t rec­om­mend­ed for any­one except Celiacs.

Eat­ing a strict gluten-free diet is the only way for a Celi­ac to stay healthy.
And by strict, this means wor­ry­ing about cross-con­t­a­m­i­na­tion. French Fries? Sure! But only if they’re not cooked in the same oil as bread­ed chick­en. Taco with a corn tor­tilla? Yes! But only if it isn’t warmed on the same grid­dle as flour tor­tillas. Same with GF Piz­za, burg­er buns, and many oth­er things a restau­rant claims to be “Gluten Free.

Because of the risk of cross-con­t­a­m­i­na­tion, most celi­acs avoid eat­ing at restau­rants, and learn to cook their own food. Eat­ing a tru­ly gluten-free diet requires a major lifestyle shift. But, for a celi­ac, there is no oth­er way.

Of course there’s a meme for that…

All right, now I’m aware of Celi­ac Dis­ease. Can you go back to post­ing goofy shit again?”

Yes! And if this post helps just 1 per­son dis­cov­er they have Celi­ac Dis­ease, it will have been well worth the effort. <3