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Celiac Disease and Multiple Sclerosis

Posted Apr 20 2009 4:18pm 2 Comments
So here I am, rolling along, albeit at a slow pace, king and master of my universe, secure in knowing I have MS, but that's cool, you don't get more on your plate than you can handle. By the way, what is Celiac disease? I need to know since I'm having a blood test this week to see if I have that too! WHAAAAA? Give me a break, another incurable? I wonder if this could explain why I'm not absorbing the vitamin D? Wait, they aren't going to tell me I'm a 300 lb. CD sufferer, I thought they all got extremely thin? I better not be the one in a million that gets fat!

I was looking over the signs, and I have quite a few of them.

* Recurring bloating, gas, or abdominal pain
* Chronic diarrhea or constipation or both
* Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
* Pale, foul-smelling stool
* Unexplained anemia
* Bone or joint pain
* Behavior changes/depression/irritability
* Vitamin K Deficiency
* Fatigue, weakness or lack of energy
* Delayed growth or onset of puberty
* Failure to thrive (in infants)
* Missed menstrual periods
* Infertility male & female
* Spontaneous miscarriages
* Canker sores inside the mouth
* Tooth discoloration or loss of enamel

Man I can go right down the list, bloating, gas, swelling, and my menstrual cycle, I don't even want to talk about that! I seem to remember someone asking if gluten was something that someone like me should avoid, and how they were pretty sure diet was at the bottom of all of this. Now I'm remembering, it was me! I am going to wait for the blood test to find out what's what, but I'm curious now if this is something that isn't all bundled up in bad tidings?

Since I brought it up before, I had better find out what a gluten free diet actually is. Do I still get to eat meat, vegetables, and fruit? I can handle anything as long as cookies are still on the list, because a world without cookies is just wrong! I've been wanting to eat better, but haven't gotten around to it, is this my nudge? I sure wish my nudges weren't trains coming head on.
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A gluten free diet is challenging but wow, in a way  you are fortunate that you have a diagnosis because you will probably feel SO much better on your new meal plan!

You can eat any fruits and vegetables that you like (as long as you are not allergic to them). All produce is naturally gluten-free. Beware of processed foods, however, that may have thickeners or gluten-based additives added to them. When in doubt, call the 1-800 consumer information number on the box of can a processed food came in.

Best bet? Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies and frozen are generally OK as long as they don't have sauces added to them.

In general, meat/chicken/fish/pork/eggs are all naturally gluten free. The trouble, once again, comes from processing. Things that are breaded will have gluten in them. Things that have marinades or special flavoring agents added may have gluten hidden them. I have had my patients practice calling companies like Perdue, etc to check which of their products are gluten free.

Dairy products like cheese, milk, yogurt are USUALLY gluten free. I have learned to call companies (like Dannon) that make yogurts because the flavorings that are added can contain gluten. Dannon told I'd alway be safe with their plain yogurt, so that's what I buy and I add fresh fruit to it and a teaspoon of sugar. I've learned to prefer this as it is much healthier and fresher tasting!

There are gluten free breads, cereals and pastas on the market. I've found that the Tinkanyada (sp?) brand of pasta seems to be the best tasting. The bread is kind of tricky. It tends to be 'gummier' than wheat bread, but if I toast it it's OK. I sometimes make my own bread and have had mixed results. You can find lots of gluten-free recipes online just by googling 'gluten free recipes' or by going to the various celiac sites around the internet. I found a gluten free  brownie recipe that I think is superior to the actual real brownies!

Over time, you start putting together a meal plan that works for you. A typical breakfast for me, for example, might be plain yogurt with fruit and nuts....or a vegetable omelette with cheese.....or a gluten free cereal like Rice Chex with skim milk.

I snack on dried fruit, almonds, the occasional dish of ice cream, corn chips (I called the company first to ensure there was no wheat in them!) and sometimes a gluten free candy bar (lots of candy is gluten free...try googling it). I also eat apples, grapes, oranges, cherries, cut up carrots and celery.

For lunch, I enjoy a scoop of tuna salad (check your mayonnaise brands!) over salad. I found some good gluten free frozen meals at a local health food store but be forewarned, they are expensive! I make a lot of homemade soup too.

I can usually find a safe dinner to eat at a steakhouse -- or a place that does a lot of seafood.

Be careful with asian restaurants that use soy sauce -- it usually contains gluten.

Overall, it can be a very healthy way to eat and a lot of restaurants now post lists of their foods that are safe for celiacs to eat.

Oh and finally, see a competent dietitian who knows about gluten free living! You'll be glad you did.

Happy recovery!

Oh and yes. there are gluten free cookies around. I've tried them and they are usually pretty good.

I was happy to discover that potatoes are allowed! I love home fries, baked potatoes and potato chips!  French fries are hard because sometimes they are breaded so I avoid those unless I make them myself.
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