A few months ago I was diagnosed with celiac disease.
To be honest, I don’t enjoy talking about it. I bring it up in my blog more than I do in person. I have a hard time asking for help, so talking about a medical issue in person feels like a lot.
In the last weeks, a few of my friends have asked me what they could do to be helpful.
On top of that, this week Ted Cruz announced that if elected president he would ensure all military meals were not gluten free. Ted Cruz is a family man, and I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he made his comments out of ignorance and not malice. Nonetheless, to me, his comments showed that there is a serious need for more awareness on celiac disease.
In light of these events, I have spent a few days thinking about it. Here are four things you can do for me if you’d like to be help.
1) Read up on celiac disease. Short definition: celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder. If people with celiac disease eat gluten, their body attacks itself. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can read more:
With celiac disease, 20 parts per million in what you consume is enough to cause a reaction.
This is what 20 PPM looks like:
You notice how you can’t see it? I can’t always see it either, and that is the problem.
How do you get cross contamination?
If you’ve cooked with wheat in your kitchen, it could be on your spoons, pans, toaster, mixer, etc. I have had to throw out a lot cooking supplies.
If you have gluten free crackers, but then you place them next to something that isn’t gluten free – the gluten free crackers are now contaminated. For example, I was once at a party where there were gluten free cookies. However, they were placed on top of other cookies that were not gluten free. Because those two different cookies were touching, I could no longer eat them.
If I am coming to a party at your house, I do not expect you will provide food for me. However, if you want to have an option for me, please buy pre-packaged food and put it in a corner away from all of the other food.
3) Please don’t be offended if I don’t eat your food.
I am flattered that people want to bring me food. Thank you for thinking of me.
However, if you’ve just read that part on cross-contamination, you probably don’t have a kitchen equipped to cook for me. When I don’t eat your food, I am not trying to be rude – I’m trying to make sure I don’t get sick.
Instead of food you’ve made, I’d love gifts cards or pre-packaged food.
If you live around Jackson, there is only place I haven’t gotten sick: Qdoba. I love Qdoba.
If you aren’t sure what food to get, you can look for this little sticker. Or, I can eat just about any fruits or veggies.
4) Pray for me.
I’ve been getting sick from gluten about once every other week. When I am sick, it causes problems for about three days. It is exhausting.
Please, just pray. Pray that I figure out what works. Pray that people learn more about the disease.