Young and Hungry

How Would Celiac Disease Change Your Diet?

gluten-freeThis week's Y&H column on beer lovers who discover they have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant put me in a somewhat existential mood. I've had two friends discover they are gluten intolerant in the past six months, and as I watch them abandon beer and begin experimenting with cider, wine, and cocktails, I try not to imagine myself having to go through the same ordeal. I'm not sure I could handle it, especially not without a comforting slice of pizza at my side.

Seeing it's advice week here on Y&H, I have a question for you readers. If you have gluten intolerance or celiac, how do you eat differently? If you don't have the disease, how do you imagine you'd cope?

Photo by joefoodie via Flickr Creative Commons, Attribution License.

  • dan riley

    My wife was diagnosed a little over ayear ago. In a strange way it opens you up to try new things and experiment with things outside your comfort zone. while she still misses sandwiches, there are things in our regular rotation that are new. You make lemonade.

  • Chris Shott

    My lovely wife is also gluten free. Thankfully, the marketplace has responded nicely with several quality products--Tinkyada brown rice pastas, Udi's breads, Ciroc vodka (made from grapes not grain), etc.

    There's a quaint pizzeria in New York, too, called Risotteria, offering gluten-free thin crusts that don't suck.

  • John

    Chris, you should get your wife to try brandy, which is similarly made from fruit, not grains, and actually has flavor. Most are made by distilling wine, but others are made from distilling cider. For the price of Ciroc, you could buy a good bottle of Calvados. Once she's tried it, I'm sure she won't go back to flavorless vodka.

  • Michelle

    How do I eat differently? Great question...Life prior to being diagnosed as Celiac was so different. Although, I always made healthy choices...There were far more options of convenience (dining anytime & anywhere). In addition, my husband is a great cook and we were such foodies.

    Now, I eat to maintain my health (proper nutrition - to avoid vitamin deficiencies & osteoporosis) and my weight (processed gluten free food is mostly high in empty calories & fat). Being prepared is important as I really don't have the convenience of a drive thru etc.

    Breakfast was a challenge as I love cereal. Thank goodness for GF Chex! Once in a while I have GF English Muffins with Peanut Butter & Marmalade.

    For lunch, I used to eat Sushi most of the time. This was fine once I became Celiac. I exchanged Tamari for Soy Sauce. I changed jobs soon after being diagnosed and Sushi is not as readily available. Therefore, I purchased a mini fridge for work and I generally eat far more fresh fruits/vegetables & gluten free protein drinks for lunch.

    Dinner was always amazing as my husband is an amazing cook. My husband can even bake:) Honestly, I don't have the room to list everything-nor do I want to. When our schedule conflicted it would be so easy to pick up meal. But,dining in a restaurant brings on so much anxiety...I have to build trust there. But, for my home cooked meals I might say Dinner is better now!

    In support of my Celiac Disease, my husband is also GF and cooks GF. Emeril Lagasse's GF Pizza from scratch are you kidding me? It's all that! Enchiladas, Shrimp Tacos, Barbeque ribs, Steak Salad...There is a lot of experimenting going on!

    The GF diet is a difficult transition. However, the benefits of feeling "this good" are incredible. Maybe I could have made my response simple: I eat better than ever!

  • Dr. Peter Osborne

    Eat to live vs. Live to Eat mentality.
    No food tastes as good as it feels to be healthy.
    Dr. Osborne

  • Jimmy D

    I too have a gluten intolerant wife. As mentioned above, when it comes to health you just deal with it. Her's manifests itself in serious gastro problems, as well as migraine headaches and rashes. Figuring out the exact problem and how to address it was a relief, not a loss for us.

    Among the many available GF brands these days, We've found kinnickinick (sp?) to be a solid brand. You can find their white bread and english muffins at the Harris Teeter in Adams Morgan and the Giant on Park Rd. Bob's Red Mill makes a decent pizza crust mix (as well as other gf flour-based recipes. Many restaurants in the area offer GF menu's. Notable among them are FireFly in Dupont and Birch and Barley (excellent gf pizzas). Also, Pete's Apizza can make any of their pizza's gf, and they are excellent. In the end, you can find a lot of cuisines that are traditionally gf (think Thai, Pho - just make sure the soy sauce, if used, is the right brand). Many others can be made so with minor tweeks (corn tortillas are a life saver in central american food). Figuring this out early made the transition rather easy.

    I noticed folks above lamenting the loss of hard booze. That should not be the case for either the gluten intolerant or for celiacs. All distilled alcohol is gluten free, even bourbon, rye whiskey, etc, despite the main ingredient. It has to do with the distillation process vs. the fermenting process. Here is a good discussion on it:
    Rest easy and drink up.

    Of course, most beer is still off limits. For a good run down of gf beers, go to Birch and Barley. Their beer manager is a wizard, and will leave you with an education in good gf beers. Importantly, in the beginning of beer making, most beer was made from gf ingredients out of convenience because wheat was best used for bread making (as gf people know, the non-wheat flours are a pain to work with in the bread/dough department), and thus wheat was reserved for such uses. Today, Redbridge has been a good standby of the easy-drinking variety (like a Budweiser basically), and is widely available. Samuel Smith makes a delicious hard cider. Green's Triple Blonde Ale is a wonderful beer for those who used to like real beer. They also make a fine doppelbock.

    Goodluck folks.

  • blue penn

    First, as far as I know, gluten intolerance IS Celiac disease. Wheat allergy is wheat allergy and not CD.

    You just can't eat wheat flour, barley or rye with CD. And you have to read ingredients all the time. And when you are in grocery stores you often have to call the 800 number on the back of food cans and jars to find out, in case there's doubt, which there is a lot.

    I eat a lot more vegetables and meat (so called whole foods). And mostly because GF bread isn't all that good, I eat fewer carbs which is probably better in the long run. But there are lots and lots of chips and salsas that are GF. Glutino offers froz food products. But GF dining out is difficult.

    Whole Foods and sometimes Harris Teeters offers a large selection of GF products. It's not that hard. Vodka is GF. Wine is GF.

    This is the second blog posting about, well, it's really about Celiac disease and those living with it.

    Where's the Y&H GF restaurant guide??

    That would be immensely helpful!

  • Jenny

    No, there is actually a difference between gluten intolerance and Celiac Disease. Gluten intolerance "just" results in symptoms, such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, etc, etc, whereas Celiac Disease actually damages the intestine, causes vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition, undiagnosed, it can lead to different types of cancer, etc. One slight exposure to gluten in Celiac Disease, leaves intestinal damage for days, or even weeks. When I got diagnosed w/ Celiac Disease, it took about 6 months for my intestine to heal from all the exposure over time.

    Anyway, on to the question :) It is really hard to know how difficult it is to live with, until you have it. It isn't just not eating bread, and pizza. It is about cross contamination in restaurants and manufacturing companies. There can be gluten in salad dressing, soup, mustard or even chocolate. Licking an envelope is also ill-advised b/c it is likely to have gluten. It makes you think about everything. You can't just say, "I'm hungry" and grab something to eat, you must read the ingredients, which often times is vague and you need to call the company. If a restaurant cook uses the same cooking utensil to cook a gluten-containing food and then my food, I will become ill. It's a daily battle and it's hard to go to parties where everyone is eating, while you stand there watching them.

  • blue penn

    Yes, you're right, though it's hard to believe people with the chronic symptoms you describe would not also have malabsorption issues. I would say that the science is still evolving. But yes according to Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, there is a category of gluten sensitive people. It's just that by definition, people with CD are also GS or gluten intolerant.