Thursday, August 18, 2016

Celiac Disease Awareness and Overweight – Are All Celiacs Skinny?

Gluten-Free Expo Participants: One Heavy, One Thin
Gluten-Free Expo Participants
(photo: TownePost Network CC BY 2.0)
Celiac disease is one of the most under-diagnosed diseases today, even though it affects 1 in 133 people worldwide -- about 3 million people in the U.S. alone.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is thought to affect 6 times more people than have celiac disease, but it is just as under-diagnosed.


I first wrote this post after coming across a thread on a gluten-free forum that reminded me of my own problems finding dependable medical care. It still floors me today that so many doctors have no clue how to suspect and diagnose celiac disease, let alone treat it.

In this particular case, a young girl went to a colonoscopy and endoscopy specialist looking for help, but the doctor’s first reaction was to her weight: 

“I see you’re quite big,” he said, “not skinny like your mother. Are you sure you have celiac disease?”

Despite the fact that celiac disease is an inherited condition and you have a 1 in 20 chance of triggering the disease -- if you carry the gene yourself and a first-degree relative also has celiac -- this doctor refused to even consider the possibility of gluten intolerance, most likely due to his outdated medical training and lack of celiac awareness.

Celiac disease is not limited to just underweight people. 

That stereotype has not held up to scientific scrutiny. In fact, the presentation of celiac disease is changing at such an alarming rate that it is no longer even spoken of as a gastrointestinal condition.

Today, celiac disease is known to be a multi-system condition that can affect any organ or body system, including the central nervous system. Over the past 30 years, there has been a dramatic shift from classic celiac disease symptoms upon diagnosis to an abundance of atypical presentations.

The data on weight isn't difficult to find. Yet, many doctors continue to insist that only skinny people can have celiac. While it's true that many people do suffer with malnutrition at the time of diagnosis, being normal weight, overweight, or even obese does NOT exclude you from having celiac disease.

Here's the scoop:

Friday, August 12, 2016

Canadian Celiac Association Says “Don't Eat Gluten-Free Cheerios!”

Bowl of Cheerios with Blueberries
(Photo: m01229 CC BY 2.0)
I last wrote about Cheerios in the fall of 2015, after General Mills decided to voluntarily recall 1.8 million boxes of Gluten-Gree Cheerios.

That article was originally published on a now defunct gluten-free blog. Since Cheerios was no longer a hot topic when I gave posts a new home, I didn't republish it. I just tucked it away for safe keeping. Until today.

Today, I discovered that the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA), the organization that certifies gluten-free products up to 5 ppm, has announced that they do not recommend that those who have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity consume these gluten-free labeled Cheerios.

Apparently, General Mills has been able to bulldoze their way into Canada, somehow, and will be marketing 5 of their Cheerios flavors as gluten free, the same flavors that are available here.

Oddly, the cereal giant is not just introducing Gluten-Free Cheerios to a small geographical area, to see if Canadians react to the mechanical sorted oats like a large percentage of the celiac population here does. Instead, they are rolling it out all over the country.

Like Gluten-Free Watchdog and other concerned individuals and organizations here in the U.S., the Canadian Celiac Association initiated a conference call on August 2, 2016, to discuss their concerns with both General Mills Canada and General Mills US.

The results of that conference call brought the following recommendation:

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mission Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas – Product Review

Package of Mission Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas - Soft Taco Size
In general, gluten-free tortillas are one of those things that you just learn to live with, as they can be fairly bad, so I was pretty surprised when we recently tried Mission's attempt at making a gluten-free flour tortilla.

Although I had tried making flour tortillas from scratch a couple of times, soon after we went gluten free, I quickly realized that I just didn't have the knack for it and turned to a variety of pre-made gluten-free products instead.

That decision really didn't turn out much better.

The extra-large brown rice tortillas made by Tortilla Factory are essentially non-roll-able and gritty, but they are eatable if you turn them into a quesadilla or fry them into a chimichanga. They are dry and hard, so I tried steaming them once, but that was pretty much a gooey disaster.

Tortilla Factory's teff tortillas can actually be rolled into a burrito, if you heat them up in the microwave first. But unlike the brown rice tortillas, teff is bitter, so they don't taste very good. 

We tried Udi's tortillas once, due to the rave reviews from the Celiac Support Group at the Delphi forums. They were made with white rice flour, a bit thicker than a regular tortilla, but no matter what I did to them, I couldn't get them to cook. They were always raw, doughy, and gaggy.

Rudi's white tortillas were pretty good, actually.

Super thin, they were the best we had tried so far. Available at the local grocery, when we lived in San Pete county, they were light, white, and frozen for convenience. We were really disappointed when we moved here to Salt Lake county and couldn't get them anymore.

For the past three years, we've been making due with corn tortillas. Corn tortillas are okay, but when you're hankering for a bean-and-cheese burrito, a soft corn tortilla just isn't the same.

For that reason, I was really excited when I heard that Mission had come out with a gluten-free flour tortilla.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Eating at Chipotle Mexican Grill – Gluten-Free Restaurant Review

Chipotle Salad: lettuce, corn salsa, cheese
Chipotle Mexican Grill Salad 
(Photo: Michael Suechang CC BY-SA 2.0)
Hubby and I never go out to eat any more. 


In our experience, it isn't worth the risk. 

I can count on one hand the number of times I have eaten out and "not" been glutened.

With odds like that, we gave up trying to find a suitable restaurant in our area long ago and started keeping a few gluten-free products on hand instead. We chose things that would make super-quick lunches and dinners, such as gluten-free corn dogs or frozen salmon patties.

Gluten-free pizza used to be a stand-by, but both hubby and I have been reacting to mozzarella cheese lately, so pizza is no longer a quick meal for us.

A lot of gluten-free folks recommend Chipotle Mexican Grill when eating out because the only thing on their menu that supposedly has gluten is their flour tortillas. These folks talk about how much they love eating at Chipotle's, how they go there all the time, and have never been glutened.

When we were in Texas for the Fourth of July visiting my kids and granddaughter, we decided to give Chipotle Mexican Grill a try. This is what happened . . .

Friday, June 10, 2016

Is Autism Associated with Celiac Disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity? (And Why Does it Matter?)

Siblings of Kids with Autism Holding Hands Walking Down the Sidewalk
Is Autism Associated with
 Celiac Disease or 
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity?
(Photo: hepingting CC BY-SA 2.0)
In 2013, a Swedish research study of 37 autistic children found no link between autism and celiac disease, according to blood work alone. The blood work did find a strong association between the presence of antibodies to gliadin and autism, but the data didn't confirm anything more than the fact that something was going on in the immune system of these children.

Dr. Fasano was hoping that the recent paper published in PLOS ONE would settle the controversy, once and for all, that a certain subset of autistic children have gluten sensitivity, rather than celiac disease, but the researchers refused to say that in the report.

Partly, because biopsies were not performed on the children, and partly because those who performed the study were not positive, beyond a reasonable doubt, that gluten was even to blame for the gastrointestinal problems and elevated IgG antibodies of the autistic children.

However, in Dr. Fasano's mind, the riddle of whether autistic children have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity has been solved.

But why does that matter?

If treatment for celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and gluten allergies is the same – a gluten-free diet – then why all the fuss?