Understanding Celiac Disease, Pt. 2

In the first part of this article, I discussed the physiology of celiac disease (CD) and how I was diagnosed. In this installment, I will discuss how I have learned to live with CD.

What were my symptoms before being diagnosed? Well, I did have symptoms, but didn’t know it. I was ten pounds lighter than usual, but didn’t know it. I always felt tired and thought a lot about sleep, had abdominal cramping, gas, and bloating (after eating fatty foods), diarrhea, irritability, and minor depression. I thought all of these things were normal for me and I had a reason for why each occurred. For example, the irritability was caused by something work-related. It wasn’t until all of these symptoms went away that I realized how terrible I had felt. Finally, I was able to feel like I was supposed to!

Six months after my diagnosis, I had a follow-up biopsy. It showed that I had done quite well with my diet-the villi were back! Since then, I have had at least three accidents, unfortunately. First, I accidentally picked up the wrong box of cereal (made of wheat) at the store one time. At home I ate a handful of it, then read the box. Aaaaaahhhhhh!!!! “Oh, my God!” I screamed aloud. Second, I ate three other kinds of cereals for a few months after my follow-up biopsy. Eventually, I started feeling poorly, again. As it turned out, these cereals, which the R. D. said I could have, were not gluten-free. Needless to say, I wanted to strangle her. Third, I had a baked potato and steamed vegetables at a restaurant. As it turned out, I unknowingly was eating a potato that had imitation butter on the skin.

Some products have gluten-type products for flavoring and/or consistency. The reactions those of us get from having gluten vary greatly. My first two “accidents” yielded no immediate reaction, but I felt the effects months later. The third “accident” caused a reaction right after my last bite. My stomach felt like it was bubbling and about to explode. I barely had enough time to throw away my napkin, before racing to the restroom. It was like the MonopolyTM game. I drew a Chance card that told me to go right to jail. The jail was the restroom, where I became one with the toilet.

As you can imagine, I have to be very careful with everything I put in or near my mouth. This includes food, chapstick, lipstick, lotion, soap, shampoo/conditioner, medicine, and many more. Also, I have to be careful before kissing my boyfriend. I could have a reaction from kissing him, if he had just eaten something containing gluten. Yes, I am that sensitive. Fortunately, he is considerate enough to be careful. Also, I have had to give up a lot of foods that I like.

I am the type who would reach for a piece of bread before a piece of cake. Some of my favorite foods that I have given up are bagels, other breads, and cereals. There are several gluten-free food manufacturers, but the products just aren’t the same. Although, I am very grateful they even exist. Oh, how depressing! Not really.

I look at my diagnosis as a positive experience. It was a relief to be diagnosed and get gluten out of my diet. It enabled me to feel great! That’s what has always been so important to me. Since 1987, I have done whatever it takes to lead a healthy lifestyle, including exercising a lot (which I always had done) and eating well (which I hadn’t done). A gluten-free diet was just one more piece of the puzzle in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. I will always work on making that puzzle more complete. “I need you to eat less chocolate,” Jeanne said to a client during a nutrition session. “But it’s so hard. I can’t do it,” said the client. Believe me. I know how hard it is. Yes, you can do it. Choose between a healthy diet and a lifestyle-related disease. You decide.

About the Author

Jeanne “Bean“ Murdock, is the owner Beanfit Health and Fitness Services. She is the host/producer of Celiac Radio and the author of “Ask Bean“, an online column and “Successful Dating at Last! A Workbook for Understanding Each Other“ and “The Every Excuse in the Book Book: How to Benefit from Exercising, by Overcoming Your Excuses.“ Contact Jeanne for more information at 408-203-7643 or through her website at www.beanfit.com.

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These resources are for the purpose of personal trainer growth and development through Continuing Education which advances the knowledge of fitness professionals. This article is written for NFPT Certified Personal Trainers to receive Continuing Education Credit (CEC). Please contact NFPT at 800.729.6378 or [email protected] with questions or for more information.