Gluten-free diabetic: Living with Celiac Disease

Amy Tenderich Health Guide
  • Reprinted with permission from Amy Tenderich of www.diabetesmine.com.

    Somehow the word has spread accross the Web that I am not only diabetic, but gluten-intolerant as well. I've noticed that a number of my online gluten-free friends (see new list in left-hand column, below) have linked back to me, as some kind of resource, I suppose. What can I actually offer on this topic?

    For those of you unfamiliar with this disorder, let me start by explaining that it is, in many ways, harder than being diabetic! OK, no injections required. No ketones or hypo incidents or anything of the sort. But if you are *just* diabetic, you can still eat a sandwich. You can still eat a bagel. You can still go out in the world and order "real" food without getting sick. After 2-1/2 years, I have already forgotten what normal bread tastes like. (Note that the leading celiac magazine is called "Living Without" -- for good reason.)
    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    And once again, it was only through the Internet that I learned of the relationship between type 1 diabetes and gluten-intolerance. Not one of my @#%$! doctors said a thing about it. So following my diabetes diagnosis, it took over six months to figure out what else was wrong with me. Aaacckk! Come to think of it, the best I can do would be to help others avoid this extended learning curve.

    So on that note, here are a few "top tips" on gluten intolerance from my little corner of the world:

    * TRY THIS:

    - If you are experiencing sharp abdominal pain, cramps, chronic diarrhea or persistent itchy skin rash, visit an allergy specialist (not your regular doctor!) to have blood tests for possible allergens.

    - If you are told there's a 50 percent chance you may be allergic to wheat, do not hesitate! Try a gluten-free diet immediately, for at least 2 weeks, to see if your symptoms dissipate.

    - If you are still unsure and suspect celiac, ask your doctor to order the autoantibody test to be sure (a "small bowel biopsy" that can be rather unpleasant, unfortunately).

    * VISIT THESE SITES:

    - National Institute of Health/Digestive Diseases
    - Celiac.com
    - Celiac Chicks
    - Gluten-Free Girl
    - Recipes from a Gluten-Free Goddess

    (Men welcome at all these sites, too, of course :)

    * SHOP HERE:

    - Gluten-Free Mall
    - The Gluten-Free Pantry
    - Gluten-Free Trading Company
    - Gluten-Free Meals.com (delivered to your door!)

    Expect to pay MORE for these special foods. But expect to FEEL BETTER and like it! (See the photo of me, in Palm Springs last week, feeling pretty darn good even after explaining to umpteen smiling servers that I really can't eat that, because I am in fact, allergic to wheat!)

    Finally, need to find a real-life gluten-free friend? Try Celiac Meetups to search for people with celiac disease near you. Nothing like a real-life buddy who shares your disorder to make you feel more "normal," ay? Best wishes to all of you celiac diabetics!
Published On: May 07, 2006