Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease and Quarantine

What a crazy world it is right now! I’m officially on Day 27 of quarantine… I’m actually counting from the day after our last day of school. I’ve been out a couple of times for essential errands, but I’ve mostly been in my house or walking outside. What day of quarantine is it for you?

On Thursday, March 12th, my district announced that only teachers would return on Friday, March 13th. At first, we weren’t returning to school for three weeks. Now, we aren’t returning until May 1st and we know it’s likely that we won’t return at all this school year…Cue the stress eating!

The first concern of my district, before diving straight into distance and online learning, was feeding our students. We have many students who eat both breakfast and lunch at school, and some who even eat dinner at school, too. This immediately got me thinking about students who have food allergies. I remember growing up that I always packed my lunch at school and brought in my own food for special events, like birthday parties.

Having food is one of our basic needs to survive, so it’s an essential service we are using right now, with grocery shopping and ordering from restaurants. I don’t know about you, but it’s also an essential service that I find extremely stressful right now! I’m so thankful for all of the essential workers who are on the frontlines, including our wonderful grocery store workers. I feel so blessed to be able to work from home because even though it’s uncharted territory for teaching, I’m thankful to be in the comfort of my own home. While we are stuck in quarantine, there are some celiac tips to keep in mind.

First, if you find yourself grocery shopping and see a lot of bare shelves, there are a couple of tips to keep in mind. As much as you can, try to find simple, fresh food, such as: meat, fruit, and vegetables. Also, staples such as rice or beans could be very useful. Then, make sure to check if the store has a dedicated gluten free section. I’ve seen several stores that have gluten free sections that have barely been touched!

Next, always make sure to read labels and ingredient lists carefully. Even if a product says it’s gluten free, always double check the ingredients. If you’re unsure about an ingredient, it’s best to be cautious and leave that item behind. Make sure to stay away from wheat, barley, and rye. Also, check for warnings that the product was manufactured on shared lines.

Then, always try to plan ahead as much as possible. If you still have to report to work or have to run essential errands, make sure you plan out any snacks or meals that you need. Pack a lunch with you or on-the-go snacks, such as gluten free granola bars or crackers. Also, with being out in public, you may have the fear of being immunocompromised. Experts actually say that if you are strictly gluten free and your small intestine has had time to heal, you do not have to be concerned, even though celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. However, if you are newly diagnosed and are unwell, talk with your doctor about what steps you should take right now to be safe.

After that, if you’re mostly stuck at home, like me, now is a great time to explore hobbies! One hobby you could try is searching for new gluten free recipes to cook or bake. Try different cuisines and remember that you can always substitute ingredients in a recipe!

One more thing I’ve been trying to do as much as possible, is support local, gluten free places. I’m very fortunate to have both a gluten-free restaurant and a gluten-free bakery close by me. I also branched out to gluten-free places about 30-45 minutes from me. Check to see if places close to you are providing carry out, delivery, or even selling gift cards. If you can, try to support these places as much as possible!

To sum it up, we all know that this is such a stressful time for everyone. Please make sure you have someone you can talk to about how you’re feeling. Confide in loved ones or even join a celiac disease support group. There are helpful groups and resources that can easily be found on social media. I’m always available, too, if you have any questions or need someone to talk to. Give yourself grace. You’re doing the best you can!

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

C.S. Lewis

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