Do I have Celiac Disease? How do I know?

Because I am a food freak and rather passionate about the flavors, tastes, textures and everything that comes along with cooking food I sometimes forget that there’s a reason that I cook this way.

After so many years of cooking gluten-free and of course more recently completely vegan (and therefore free of other allergens such as dairy and eggs) I have become so used to the way we eat and the way of life we lead that I forget sometimes that it can be very new to people.

I have never been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. It’s my husband, Levi, who has Celiac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis. He is the one who had to receive the diagnosis and absorb the fact that he needs to strictly avoid gluten for the rest of his life. Since he’s a big tough man and doesn’t want to talk about feelings and emotions, I can’t really say for sure exactly how he felt when he learned that news. Bummed out, at the very least.

Sometimes I think he would have preferred to be blissfully unaware, continue taking his Dapsone for a “skin condition” the dermatologist didn’t openly connect to gluten intolerance and just keep “enjoying life” with gluten, thinking the gut disturbances were completely normal.

Does that sound like you?

I wouldn’t blame you if it did. Sometimes we know something is up. Our bodies are behaving differently or are telling us something and we worry the answer isn’t going to be a pleasant one. So, we just don’t ask the question.

You know the question:

“Do I have Celiac Disesase?”

Here are some solid reasons why you should absolutely get checked out if you have that little tiny nagging voice in the back of your head questioning whether or not you have it.

1. The longer you go untreated, the longer it will take your body to heal once you are on a gluten-free diet.

2. Living gluten-free is really not as bad as you think. There’s good food in the gluten-free world, I promise you that. I mean, you’re right here where I can proudly say I make tasty food. There are literally hundreds or thousands more websites, blogs, books and articles with even more tasty tidbits and recipes and advice.

3. The test is not even close to being as bad as it used to be. It’s just a blood test. And it’s become more reliable and accurate in recent years than ever before.

Do you want to see the difference a proper diagnosis and living gluten-free makes?

Check out a picture of Levi from about four years ago.

(we were camping …)

Here he is completely itch-free and gut-happy.

And if you do end up learning that you are indeed gluten intolerant and/or have Celiac Disease, do not lose hope. There are others like you who have gone through exactly what you have gone through, who have had family members go through it, and who have built up a support system for this.

I highly recommend checking out your local chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association and becoming a member. The advice shared between members and in the newsletters will help you get settled into your new way of life without gluten.

Okay, so that’s my motivational post for today. I hope you can appreciate that learning that you have a food allergy or intolerance is not the end of the world, but rather an opportunity to open more doors and a challenge to try new foods and experience new taste adventures.

Be happy and be healthy!

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4 Responses to “Do I have Celiac Disease? How do I know?”

  1. Leetah
    January 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    My fiance and I are vegan and we found this site looking for homemade bread ideas for our friend’s mother who has Celiac. When I read your About page I noticed that my fiance has a rash similar to what your husband had and so I went to Google for more info. His rashes look exactly like that of others and so we are going to get him tested at the first opportunity. We are hoping this will be the answer to his rashes. Going vegan has already helped with bloating – he is allergic to eggs, dairy, and meat.
    Also, I cannot wait to try your Cashew Cream Sauce…it looks divine. I’ve been craving creamy pasta.

    • Megan
      January 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      Hi Leetah,
      Definitely get the rashes checked out. It’s hard to describe how it is … it’s a rash, but also like fluid-filled blisters. It’s itchy and so when scratched, the ‘blisters’ break and scab. In the top picture of Levi, he’s having a relatively mild Dermatitis Herpetiformis (DH) reaction. The places where he would normally have a ‘reaction’ would be on his legs, butt, scalp, arms.

      When he was 19, a quick biopsy of one of the fluid-filled blisters revealed that gluten was the cause, though it would take many years before any medical professional made the connection that he had DH and Celiac Disease and required a gluten-free diet.

      I hope you find an answer soon. (And for sure try the Cashew Cream … I’m you’ll love it!)

      ~Megan

  2. Sara
    February 5, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    I just read a statistic that if you have celiac as a child or young adult, and continue to expose your body regularly, you have a 40% increased risk of gastrointestinal cancer! Scary!

    • Megan
      February 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

      That is very scary! Thanks for sharing that stat here. It’s important that people understand that having ‘a little gluten’ now and then for people with Celiac Disease is not good – not just for the short term effects but long term as well.

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