- Celiac Awareness Day is September 13, 2021.
- Celiac disease causes an immune reaction in the body after gluten is consumed.
- To try to understand what a diet may be like for someone with the disease, I went gluten-free for a week, and it wasn’t easy.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When a person with celiac eats gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, their immune system causes the body to attack itself, specifically the villi in the small intestine. The villi are small, finger-like structures that provide a large surface area for nutrients to be absorbed — unless they’re damaged. According to the Celiac Foundation, the disease can lead to more serious complications down the line, such as deficiencies, infertility, and neurological issues.
I decided to try eating gluten-free for a week to see what a diet might be like for someone with the disease. I quickly discovered that many, many things I assumed were safe to eat were actually a source of potential gluten exposure and, as a result, meals and snacks need careful planning.
If I had wanted gluten-free bread, it would’ve set me back more than my usual whole-wheat loaf. At Target, a loaf of whole-wheat costs $US2.99 ($AU4), while a loaf of gluten-free would be $US5.99 ($AU8), for a smaller loaf. Instead, I just ate the eggs.
According to Healthline, oatmeal should be good for anyone with a gluten sensitivity, since it doesn’t directly contain gluten, but it might not be safe for people with celiac, as the oats could come into contact with gluten during processing. To be certain, people with celiac should look for oats explicitly labeled as “gluten-free.”
NY Mag called Bamba one of the best gluten-free snacks, and the “most famous snack food you’ve never heard of.”
Hummus, generally, is gluten-free.
However, there was one thing I missed …
Movie-theater popcorn should be safe, but I didn’t want to risk any cross-contamination.
I also needed to skip the pita, which left me with a salad that I quite enjoyed.
On this particular night, these mashed potatoes were made from scratch, so I was sure that there was no gluten in them, though in general, mashed potatoes are safe. I also had more roasted carrots and a piece of salmon doused in dill dressing.
It didn’t occur to me before that sandwiches, which are traditionally cheaper than entrées, are inedible for people on a gluten-free diet, unless they ask to skip the bread. Instead, I wondered if many people following a gluten-free diet are forced by necessity to order more expensive food.
I knew that rice, salmon, and bok choy are gluten-free, but I had already eaten a few bites before I realized I should’ve checked the teriyaki sauce — Google told me that most teriyaki sauces have soy sauce, which has gluten.
I don’t envy those who have to deal with this on a daily basis, much like those with a peanut or fish allergy. I have something called oral allergy syndrome, which prevents me from eating certain types of raw fruits and vegetables, and that’s nothing compared to this.
Celiac is a serious disease, and those living with it can’t have a slip-up like I did over the week without any consequences.