Saturday, December 25, 2010

"Tisn't the Season for Everyone

‘Tisn’t the Season for Everyone

I read somewhere that the average person (if there is such a creature) gains five to eight pounds over the holidays. All those Christmas cookies, candy, cakes, pies, and of course the ever popular, fruit cake are responsible; as are the tasty dinner rolls, or hot buttery breakfast biscuits, pancakes, waffles, and pastries. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. But there’s only one problem with these holiday delights – they all contain gluten, and to a person with Celiac disease, it’s not the calories that are your enemy, it’s the gluten and it is deadly.

What is Celiac disease? Celiac disease is an inherited, autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. This can cause numerous problems. In my case, it was chronic anemia because my small intestine was so damaged it could not absorb any nutrients from my food. I was essentially malnourished because my body wasn’t getting any vitamins and minerals. After two years of fighting chronic anemia, I felt like I was dying. Finally, a gastroenterologist diagnosed my problem.

What causes Celiac disease? No one in the medical community knows. Even if you have relatives with the disease, which makes you at greater risk for developing it, there is no way to predict when or if it will occur. It can occur in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, or remain dormant. When it does manifest, it often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed. The main reason is the symptoms vary widely from person to person.

There is no cure for Celiac disease. If the damage to your small intestine isn’t too severe, a gluten free diet can over time, allow it to heal itself. Yes, you guessed it – that means no Christmas goodies, or goodies in general. Ever. That sounds terrible to lovers of bread and desserts, but the benefits of skipping those gluten rich foods far outweighs the brief pleasure of eating them. It just ‘Tisn’t the Season for everyone!

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