Saturday, December 27, 2008

Food Allergies and Intolerances

In early 2002 I was diagnosed with a wheat allergy. Some members of my family were quite resistant to my new ‘fad diet’. Their lack of support was a surprise especially since there was at least 10 years in my grandfather’s life where he also could not touch the stuff. Over the past nearly 8 years my family has slowly come around. For the past 2 years they have even purchased flour to make pie crust I could eat and stuffed a small part of the turkey with a rice stuffing I could also have. To get to this point seemed like a small miracle. During this slow transition I have been telling them some of the facts and tips I have learned along the way.

Over this past year my sister has had some major health issues and scares. There is nothing like a doctor saying you might have an aggressive form of cancer to scare you to death. She went for regular check ups and for a biopsy that was inconclusive. She is a wife and a mother of two and was concerned for her own health and being there for her family. Over Thanksgiving we talked. She told me more of the symptoms and things she and her doctor were considering. I asked if she had been tested for a wheat allergy like mine or a gluten-intolerance like Celiac disease. I told her of the vendor I have known for years. I told her how this time last year she was sick in bed with the doctors planning exploratory surgery to find out what was killing her. Yes, killing her. She was in so much pain that she was working from bed with the help of her husband. She decided to try one more doctor before having major surgery that may or may not find the problem. The last doctor she saw told her to cut gluten out of her diet and see if that helped. After only a week or two on a gluten-free diet she was feeling better then she has the rest of her life. Yes, adjusting to the diet was a pain but she was able to get out of bed and enjoy life again. When I saw this vendor in October she looked great and we compared notes. She had found out that Celiac disease is common in those of Irish decent. It may have even contributed to her father’s death. I relayed this to my sister. We are of Celtic decent, grandpa had a problem (and still may), and I have a wheat allergy. In other words it rounds in the family. My sister said she might not remember all of this when she got home so I volunteered to send her an email.

She had an appointment with the doctor for something else and talked to him about it. She was hoping the doc would just say her big sister was crazy. Instead he paused and thought. I had recommended getting tested but he said the test were inconclusive and the best thing was to go gluten-free for a few weeks to see if it would help and if she could live with the diet. He said some find the diet so hard to live by they would rather live with the health problems. My sister decided to try the diet. Just over a week later I got a call saying I had won. I couldn’t remember entering any of her kid’s fund raisers and was a bit confused at first. Evidently after less then 2 weeks on the diet she had eaten something that convinced her she needed to stay on the gluten-free diet.

She is feeling better each day. She has a new “hobby” looking for recipes and products she can now eat. I’m hoping the years of eating gluten hasn’t left damage that time and a better diet can’t heal.

The moral of the story is… doctors are not always looking to allergies for the cause of medical problems and allergies and food intolerances show different symptoms in everyone. If something is ailing you talk to your doctor about the possibility of it being a food allergy or intolerance.

Here are some web resources for Celiac:

National Institute of health -

Connie Sarros -

Gluten-Free Girl -

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. So many newly-diagnosed celiacs or those with a gluten intolerance feel they are unique and alone. Your story helps them to realize that they certainly are not alone. It sounds like your sister has adjusted very well to her new diet. And I love the moral of your story. Thank you, too, for listing my web site. I appreciate that.

    Connie Sarros
    Gluten-free Cookbooks