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4 things I wish people knew about Celiac

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1. Celiac is an autoimmune disease-your own body starts to attack itself if you eat wheat, rye or barley. Other types of autoimmune diseases that people may be more familiar with are type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto thyroiditis, and multiple sclerosis. There are 80 different types of autoimmune diseases.

2. Treatment-The only treatment for Celiac is a strict gluten free diet. There is no medication. This is why when people with Celiac go out to eat it is so important to know what is in the food they are eating. Gluten free food is our medicine!

3. Getting "glutened" or cross contaminated-Everyone's symptoms are different. Most are pretty awful. They can range from headaches, brain fog, to throwing up, and running to the bathroom for hours. For many it's like having a bad stomach bug that lasts 1-2 days with lingering exhaustion. Other than staying hydrated and rest there is no magic medicine to help with symptoms or make them go away sooner.

4. Socially Isolating-Food is what brings people together. Think about getting together with friends. What do you do? You go out to eat or drink. If you have Celiac you need to find out if you can eat where your friends/family are eating ahead if time. If you don't feel comfortable there you don't want to eat. Then people think there is something wrong. "Why aren't you eating?" You don't want to cause a scene and you don't want to have to explain. You just want to go out with friends. It becomes quite stressful!

Food for thought-I recently was told about a conversation in an elevator. There was a woman in the elevator, she appeared physically healthy and another younger woman got on the elevator in a wheelchair. The woman who looked physically heathy apologized to the woman in the wheelchair and explained she was taking the elevator as she recently had surgery. The young woman in the wheelchair stopped her and said, "You don't need to explain to me, lots of people have invisible illnesses." What a wise young woman!

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