Celiac disease is a medical condition in which the surface of the small intestine is damaged by a substance called gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It is the gluten in the flour that helps bread and other baked goods bind and prevents crumbling. This feature has made gluten widely used in the production of many processed and packaged foods, medicines, and cosmetics.  Today’s processed and packaged foods have many hidden sources of gluten which can be unintentionally ingested. Care should be taken in the selection of soups, luncheon meats and sausages.

There is no cure for Celiac. The only option and is life-long strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. This can be challenging and frustrating as others may not recognize the severity of the disease.  Even small amounts of gluten can affect the intestine-sometimes without symptoms.

New food labelling regulations in Canada came into effect on August 4, 2012, that apply to all packaged food sold in Canada, no matter where it was manufactured. Gluten is one of the ingredients that must be listed. When checking labels, look first at the ingredients, then at the warning. In the ingredients, use the acronym BROWS (Barley, Rye, Oats, Wheat, Spelt).  In the warning section, the most common allergens must be listed.

Dining out can be a concern.  Many restaurants publish which meals contain gluten.  If unsure, ask your server and have them check with the chef.

Family gatherings and work functions can also be a challenge. Educating friends, coworkers and family about celeriac disease is a good idea. They need to know that this a serious disease and not some lifestyle choice or fad eating plan. With understanding, they should be more sensitive with food choices. For example, they might prepare a potluck dish that is gluten-free. Another great idea is to include a list of ingredients or recipe cards. If you like the dish, you can make it at home and you will know what to enjoy and what to avoid. This is also helpful for people with other allergies and intolerances. Take care of yourselves and each other.