Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease and Food Sensitivities

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which your body can’t digest gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. However, once diagnosed with celiac disease, you may also discover that there are other foods you’re sensitive or intolerant to, such as dairy. Once your small intestine has time to fully heal, you may be able to reintroduce certain foods back into your diet.

I’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease for almost 25 years. However, I only recently discovered other foods that my body is sensitive to. I was able to rule them out as true allergies. The foods I’m sensitive to are eggs, avocado, and soy.

First, my body is sensitive to eggs. As a young child, I was told I was allergic to eggs through one of my extensive allergy tests. I’ve always had to get these tests done because of my non-food allergies, such as dust, mold, and pollen. However, when I was about seven years old, I was told that I could now eat eggs! The problem, though, is that I was also told that I was now allergic to cats and dogs, which broke my heart! I’ve always loved animals and wanted to have a lot of pets. Now, I was allergic to anything with fur, saliva, or dander. I then hated eggs, more out of a protest to the bad news I had received.

As I got older, though, I came to like eggs. Then, in college, I spent the night at a friend’s apartment and she made eggs for breakfast the following morning. I went home soon after and had a terrible stomachache and was so nauseous! I first was worried that I’d been glutened and carefully went over everything I’d eaten. Over the next couple of weeks, I ate eggs several more times, though, and had the same reaction. So, I went to my allergist to get tested again and the results came back negative. This helped me discern that I had an egg sensitivity, rather than an allergy. I’d suspected this because allergic reactions usually present as more of the immediate, scary reactions such as your throat closing up or hives. People often then need to carry around an EpiPen. Sensitivities usually present as more of the delayed reactions, such as digestive issues.

Second, my body is sensitive to avocado. As a child, I couldn’t eat a raw avocado by itself because I would react the same way I do to eggs, with a stomachache and nausea. However, I was able to eat gluten-free guacamole just fine. I was so thankful because I do really love avocado! This recently changed for me when I ate at a dedicated gluten-free restaurant and part of my meal included guacamole. I became very nauseous on the way home, which lasted for a couple of hours. I also reacted the same way at home when cooking with avocado oil. Now, I’m even sensitive to just the smell of avocados (and eggs, too).

Third, I’m sensitive to soy. I just recently discovered this sensitivity, which helped lead to the discovery of my GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). About a year ago, I suspected that I might have a soy allergy because I’d narrowed down the reactions I was having to the gluten-free soy sauce I was using. My food would immediately get stuck going down and my chest would feel like it was on fire. I would have a difficult time breathing and the food would either slowly make its way down or would come back up. I once again got an allergy test done and it came back negative. It was then suspected that soy was maybe a trigger for my GERD. I started taking medication and that did help. I also got a referral to set up an EGD (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy), also known as an upper endoscopy or scope. One thing I’ve discovered that has really helped me, though, is replacing my gluten-free soy sauce with coconut aminos, which is a soy-free alternative to soy sauce.

All in all, food sensitivities and intolerances can be difficult to pinpoint, as there isn’t a simple test to take to clearly determine what the problem is. Often the best thing to do is to patiently keep a food diary and document any reactions and slowly try to figure out what food or foods you’re reacting to. You can then do an elimination diet and slowly reintroduce foods and record how your body is reacting to each one. I know the process can be so frustrating, but if you have any concerns about food sensitivities, be sure to meet with your doctor or nutritionist to try to figure out what is going on. Also, don’t worry about what other people think. I’ve had to learn that I know my body and I would much rather be healthy and not get sick frequently after eating than worry about what others are saying about my food. You can always bring your own food to gatherings or restaurants, so that you know what you’re eating won’t make you sick. Remember to ALWAYS advocate for yourself!

“Learning patience can be a difficult experience, but once conquered you will find life is easier.” — Catherine Pulsifier

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