Gluten-Free Brioche. Photo by Stephanie Stiavetti.

Michael is in New York City for the week meeting up with book publishers, OpenSky, and judging Iron Chef. He asked me to repost Carol Blymire’s Q & A on celiac disease. Look forward to a new post from Michael on Monday. And I am hoping for some off-the-cuff photos for this Friday’s post from him.  —Emilia

Originally posted October 19, 2010

The blog world knows Carol Blymire for her cooking her way through The French Laundry Cookbook (which is how I became acquainted with her). She’s now documenting her adventures in avant-garde home cooking in her new blog, Alinea at Home. By day, she’s a communications and public policy consultant in D.C. Day and night, she lives with celiac, a disease that prevents her body from digesting gluten, diagnosed after years of tests for ALS and MS and the like when her dermatologist noticed some rashes and said she probably had celiac. Sources say that 3 million Americans suffer from celiac. One in 4 is genetically predisposed to the disease. No one knows what engages the gear that activates it. Millions are likely undiagnosed. Until Carol went on a rant about what she goes through (I was likely being insensitive), I had no idea what . . . well, more people, chefs especially, ought to know.

Carol Blymire

 

Carol, let’s make sure everyone’s clear on this. Having celiac disease, the inability to digest gluten, isn’t like being lactose intolerant. Or is it? I mean, really, how serious is it?

Oh jeez . . . I hope you weren’t hoping to win a Pulitzer for this, because I’m going to have to talk pretty explicitly about “digestive issues.” Can we do that on a food blog?

I take that to mean there’s some rectal enthusiasm involved here?

Here’s what happens when I’m accidentally “glutened”: uncontrollable, painful, explosive diarrhea that comes on quickly with next-to-no warning within 30 minutes of ingesting gluten. So, if I’m glutened in a restaurant, it might hit while I’m still sitting there finishing up my lunch. If I’m lucky enough to make it to the bathroom on time, then I have to hope there’s enough time in between “episodes” to drive home, where this lovely symptom will continue for another 24–36 hours.

Is that it?

Not even close. Over the next 48 to 72 hours, we celiacs also get to experience joint pain, stomach cramps, migraines, dehydration, numbness and tingling in the extremities, insomnia (despite being exhausted from all the butt explosions), and toward the end of it, a foggy-headed serotonin crash where it’s difficult to get out of bed, think clearly, or accomplish even the most basic life skills. Oh, and bumpy skin rashes. Let’s not forget those. So pretty.

Sounds like the hangover I had after my friend Blake left last weekend, something I hope not to repeat.

Getting glutened is really debilitating. If I have a big event, vacation, or important meeting, I have to plan to not eat food other than my own cooking the three days before because I can’t risk being stuck at home, sick from gluten, and miss out whatever it was I needed or wanted to do. And, whenever I eat out (whether at a restaurant or a friend’s house), I make sure I know all the possible places I could stop on the way home in case I get sick.

Why can’t you eat at restaurants and just tell them that you’ve got celiac and can’t eat gluten?

Cross-contamination is probably the biggest risk: you can’t plate someone’s spaghetti à la nero and then plate my food without washing your hands in between. You can’t put a burger on a bun, re-check the ticket and see that I’m no-gluten, and just take the burger off the bun and serve it to me. I can’t eat fries that have been cooked in the same oil as anything battered. If an expediter wipes the rim of a plate with bread on it before serving it, then uses the same towel edge to wipe my plate, then they’ve essentially just wiped my plate with a piece of bread, and I’ll be sick.

So many people lie about having food allergies (“I’m allergic to dairy, so no butter” but they order ice cream for dessert) that some chefs have confessed to me that they don’t take gluten directives seriously. I get it: I used to make fun of people who said they were allergic to wheat because I thought they were being dramatic and annoying.

What can chefs do to improve?

Trust that when someone says “no gluten,” they have celiac and are not just trying the latest fad diet. Learn about gluten because it’s everywhere. And, be extra-careful about cross-contamination—that’s the biggest risk, actually, in restaurant kitchens. You can’t touch bread or something with gluten in it and then touch our food without washing your hands in between. You can’t just do a “whoopsie” and take the burger off the bun and serve it to us.

Having celiac can be really isolating, because it’s safest and healthiest to just cook for yourself. But, I’m a social creature and I love restaurants, so I had to (and still have to) muster the courage to leave the confines of my kitchen and let others cook for me.

What should I do if I’m having someone for dinner who has celiac?

Be patient when the person with celiac asks you about every single ingredient and its origin. Be willing to read the labels of every single thing you put into a dish. Know that we understand how stressful and frustrating it can be to cook for someone with celiac; believe me, we get it, and we love you for making the effort to cook for us.

All of this comes with the gentle reminder to fellow celiacs that it’s in our best interests to call a restaurant a day or two ahead to let them know we can’t eat gluten. It’s kind of dickish to just show up somewhere and expect a restaurant to deal with a major dietary restriction. And, always send a thank-you note or personally thank the manager and chef. It’s not always easy to accommodate people with celiac, so a little thanks goes a long way.

One last question: What’s been your experience when you do find a restaurant that truly understands your condition?

More than once, I’ve actually cried during a meal because it was so good and wasn’t making me sick. A pastry chef here in town sent out a round of all his desserts that he’d made gluten-free. There are a lot of chefs who have gone above and beyond to make sure I’ve been safe—and that there’s nothing in the world that has made me feel more cared for . . . really and truly.

I asked for a recipe to accompany this post, and Carol asked if she could post Shauna and Daniel Ahern’s pizza dough for their new (excellent) book, Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef (it also makes a great cracker or flatbread dough):

Gluten-Free Pizza. Photo by Carol Blymire.

Gluten-Free Pizza Dough

Carol loves this recipe because it is not only pizza dough but also doubles as a cracker dough. She topped this one with olive oil, fresh mozzarella, some Woodlands pork ham, and wine-steeped figs. She did another last night for the neighbors with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and purple basil.

Makes two 10-inch crusts if you like them thick, 12-inch if you like them thin.

  • 125 grams (1 cup) cornstarch
  • 125 grams (¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons) corn flour
  • 125 grams (¾ cup) potato starch
  • 125 grams (¾ cup) sweet rice flour
  • 1 tablespoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 375 grams (1¾ cup) warm water, about 110°F/43°C.
  • 50 grams (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 15 grams (4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • gluten-free cornmeal for sprinkling on pan (not all are gluten-free due to manufacturing practices)
  1. Combining the dry ingredients: Sift cornstarch, corn flour, potato starch, and sweet rice flour into large bowl. Add xanthan gum, guar gum, and salt. Sift mixture into bowl of stand mixer.
  2. Activating the yeast: Combine warm water, olive oil, and yeast in small bowl. Stir gently. Let rest for a minute.
  3. Making the dough: Pour yeasty water into dry ingredients. Mix at medium speed (using the dough hook attachment) for 2 minutes, until dough comes together and feels soft and pliable. Set dough aside in a warm place and let rise for 1 hour.
  4. Preparing to bake: Preheat the oven to 550°F/288°C (or as hot as your oven will go). If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven now. Sprinkle a pizza tray or baking sheet with cornmeal.
  5. Rolling out the dough: Cut the dough ball in half. Put one of the balls of dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Through the paper, roll out the dough as thin as you can make it.
  6. Prebaking the crust: Carefully transfer dough onto the pizza pan. Brush dough with olive oil. Bake until the dough feels firm and when you lift it off the pan, it will hold its shape, about 7 minutes.
  7. Take the crust out of the oven and top it as you wish.
  8. You can make the second crust immediately (and really, you probably will). Or, you can put it in the refrigerator and have pizza again the next day.

 

A few other gluten-free sites, besides Shauna’s:

Gluten Free Easily, by Shirley Braden

Wasabimon, by Stephanie Stiavetti

And by a teenager, Lauren McMillan, diagnosed with celiac, Celiac Teen.

 

If you liked this post on What I Didn’t Know About Celiac, check out these other links:

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.

 

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45 Wonderful responses to “What I Didn’t Know About Celiac”

    • Matt

      Second that. I wonder if she would do a kickstarter to get it going again?

  • Carly

    I always think that people with these conditions must be so, so tired of people claiming to have them just to avoid eating something they don’t want. Just say you don’t want the damn bread, don’t make it harder for other people to be taken seriously.

  • KCG

    Wheat has changed a lot since the beginning of agriculture. The new GMO “super wheat” is perhaps responsible for the rise in celiac. It has a higher percentage of gluten than heritage wheat.

  • Jon

    I can’t imagine that all Celiac patients are so hyper-sensitive and have such severe reactions. I understand the value of explaining how terrible Celiac disease can be, but this interview seems to suggest that all patients respond to this degree. Is it really this bad for everyone, or is Carol particularly sensitive to gluten?

    • Mantonat

      If you have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, then the answer is generally “Yes, it’s that bad.”

      Celiac disease is a genetic condition that can be detected through a specific genetic test. For those who do not have Celiac disease, there can be varying degrees of gluten sensitivity or intolerance. My wifes mother, grandfather, uncle, and several cousins have all been diagnosed with Celiac disease and have acute sensitivity that makes dining out quite difficult, but not impossible. My wife was spared the celiac gene, but has a pretty high sensitivity which means that wheat-flour products are out of the question. At home, we are very careful with hidden gluten (which means we generally don’t buy processed foods), but in restaurants she doesn’t worry too much about cross-contamination or trace amounts. She’ll ask about sauces, stuffings, etc, to make sure they don’t contain flour as a thickener, so things like gumbo and country gravy are off limits.

    • AccidentalCeliac

      Yes, it IS that serious. The allowable threshold for cross-contamination is 20 parts-per-million. You are perhaps mistaking this for an allergy, where people can have varying degrees of reaction…. while our symptoms range, the internal damage it can do it incredibly serious. (curious that the author only spoke about about the immediate symptoms and didn’t even mention osteoporosis or cancer, which we can get form exposure….) Sadly, if you have celiac, you HAVE to take it this seriously or else you are just cutting your life span by a significant amount.

    • Tina

      Jon, I can’t speak for others with celiac, but I was diagnosed over a year and a half ago when my celiac forced me into a week’s hospital stay and two blood transfusions. Yep, blood transfusions. The lining of my intestines had been so severely shredded by gluten that I had developed bleeding ulcers that wouldn’t’ stop. I so wish I were one of those people who just claimed to be gluten intolerant because I think that an occasional doughnut gives me gas. Those folks make my blood boil because it creates a much harder time for folks like me. I miss croissants like I think I would miss breathing sometimes. I didn’t choose this dietary restriction. I was pulled into it kicking and screaming. My hope is that those who claim to have celiac have actually gone to a doctor and gotten the correct tests to diagnose it. Otherwise, society is going to continue to roll their eyes at people who say they have special dietary needs when it comes to gluten.

    • Curtis

      Yes, it’s really that bad. Imagine the frustration of having explosive diarrhea daily for 6 months and enduring several rounds of tests before your doctor will listen to you and take your suggestion that it might be Celiac. I used to be first in line for my co-workers sticky cinnamon buns. Now I give them a wide berth.

      CD is a life threatening disease. misdiagnosed CD killed my favorite cousin.

      Would you kiss a rattlesnake? That’s what eating gluten is like.

    • Stewart

      I’m actually glad to see that there is another person out there like me. My profession is in the field of food safety and when I was diagnosed and began the gluten free diet about 10 years ago, it was hard to find restaurants that would accommodate me. Heck, it was hard to find folks who knew what gluten was and where it came from.
      Now it is easier to eat out, but recently I have seen a rise in the “oh, it isn’t that big a deal” attitude in restaurants which is very disheartening since I eat all my meals out in restaurants. My reaction is identical to Carol with the same severity and duration. Luckily, I work with chefs and restaurants and have built a relationship with enough local places that they are great. I love a good meal and don’t mind paying a little extra for safety.
      It’s a little late, but long story short…yes, it can be that severe and I’ve known people with even worse reactions.

  • Marianne

    Thank you for reposting this…I love how open she is…..going gluten free has “eliminated” those explosive situations and headaches and lethargy……

  • Tina

    I’m a pastry chef and out of curiosity, I’d love to know how a person with celiac could eat anything pastry related when there is so much flour floating in the air of a pastry kitchen. If touching a bun with a hand then touching a piece of their food with the same hand will contaminate it, I could only imagine the trouble caused by floating flour particles stirred up from a mixer.

    • Mantonat

      That’s why most people with Celiac disease won’t eat products from a bakery that hasn’t been certified gluten-free. There are plenty of bakeries that do both, but have a separate room with mixers, equipment, storage, etc. for their gluten-free production. For people with low-level intolerance it’s probably not a big deal and for people avoiding gluten for reasons related to fad-diets, it’s just plain silly.

      When I got married, the baker promised us that she could make us a small gluten-free cake to go along with the regular wedding cake but then backed out a week before the wedding because she must have done a little research and realized that she couldn’t make any guarantees. Our fault for not asking the right questions initially, but we had to scramble at the last minute to find a decent gluten-free baker. In the long run, it was not a big deal – worst case scenario was that a few people at the wedding would have been eating ice cream or something instead of wedding cake.

      • Tina

        I don’t bake gluten free cakes. After my first few requests, I stopped for fear of contamination. I guess the people asking me these days are doing it for fad reasons. I know of someone who was misdiagnosed with celiac then later found that it wasn’t celiac, but an auto-immune issue. He is now on a steroid and eating gluten again. Hooray for him.

    • Dee

      I’m not a pastry chef, but a home baker. My niece has Celiac and I bake for her. I completely scrub down my kitchen, mixer, measuring cups/spoons, pans, cooling racks and any other equipment I will use before I do GF baking, even running the oven cleaning cycle to burn off any possible crumbs that could be on oven racks. I store my GF baking supplies in my pantry on the top shelf so no supplies with gluten float down onto the GF stuff. I buy new tins and storage containers and mark them “GF ONLY!”

      Obviously, I do all of my GF baking (and cooking) within a day or two and don’t intersperse any projects that include gluten.

      It is amazing how many items have gluten… including spices. Some anti-caking agents in spices have gluten.

  • Jacqueline

    There are also long term health consequences, some of which are still being determined from the exposure to allergens. I get tired of people assuming that if I’m “only getting hives, eczema, digestive problems” then it’s not like life or death. Okay, on its face, true but really, not fair to assume I’m eating disordered or making stuff up. And cross-contamination is the key culprit in restaurants. One study showed nearly all chefs polled say they were certain they could safely serve customers with food allergies. Then proceeded to get nearly every question wrong; e.g., taking nuts off salad and serving to someone with a nut allergy NOT safe; but they thought it was; etc.

    I wrote a piece in the Washington Post about dining out with food allergies and received emails MONTHS after from parents thanking me for telling their story. I included tips for eating out with allergies which could be helpful for those with gluten sensitivity and celiac.

    Finally, I want to echo the complaint that those folks trying fad diets really do a disservice to others with legitimate medical conditions. I have seen diners put chefs through major hassles because “their sister said she read an article claiming you could lose weight if you eliminated X”. F*er.

    Thanks for using your well-earned platform to bring this to light!

    Jackie what-part-of-a-cow-does-an-egg-come-from Church
    (my answer when the response to my dairy allergy is met with “you can’t have that, it has eggs!”)

  • Gluten Dude

    Great article/interview from top to bottom. It’s a challenge to get taken seriously with the “gluten-free fad” in full force (thanks Kim and Miley) but publicity like this rocks. Thank you!

  • Tony P

    I’m thankful that the only food allergies I had I outgrew through stubbornness. I just continued to eat them and insisted on antihistamines.

    I find it interesting the celiac, peanut allergies and like seem so rampant though. I say this because in my circle of co-workers and friends I know of just one case of peanut allergy.

    • Mantonat

      Neither Celiac disease nor peanut allergies are exactly rampant, but thanks to the internet and other modern means of communication, these issues are more visible than ever. (And despite complaints about fad gluten-free dieters, it does make it easier for all to find gluten-free products and restaurants). The number of people diagnosed with these conditions has definitely risen, but the estimate for Celiac sufferers (diagnosed and un-diagnosed) is still only about 1% of the US population. The number of people with peanut allergies of all levels of severity is less than half that, and many people outgrow the allergy as adults.

  • Dave

    Great post! I am sick of getting sick at restaurants that claim they “get” Celiac disease but still didn’t do anything to avoid cross-contamination. I understand a restaurant not wanting to change to accept food allergies, but please just let us know that in advance.

  • Matt

    I get the genuine need for someone to avoid gluten if they are diagnosed with celiac, but can anyone please explain to me the reason for the fad-clamoring of avoiding gluten? How does it lead to (supposed) weight loss? Does it just cause a major avoidance of carbohydrates (so here we go again with the atkin diet again)…

    • Betty

      A gluten free diet is not a weight loss diet unless you’re not eating a lot of GF bread products and eating more healthy. The flours we have to use in place of wheat flour are mainly from rice, potato, and corn. All of these flours are high in starch/carbs which can lead to weight gain and diabetes if over-consumed over time. Weight gain is a problem with many newly diagnosed celiacs after they’ve been on the diet for a while. The way to lose weight on a GF diet is using less products made from GF flours and eat more raw foods and portion control…the same is true of someone who is not celiac.

    • Mantonat

      I’d love for you to post some facts supporting this statement. In return, I will post some facts indicating that people named Nate are generally jackasses.

    • T

      Did you even read the above interview? Or, did you just come here to troll, period.

  • Paul

    I am a working chef (and until very recently a working line cook), and I don’t claim that that gives me any special claim to knowledge of this disorder, though when we started to get swamped with gluten free requests, I did take the time to do some reading. I completely understand that Celiac, gluten intolerance and gluten allergy are real things. However, when I get the number of people wanting me to bend over backwards for them at the restaurant that I do, I have to assume that most of them have no such thing. Celiac wasn’t invented in the last five years, but the number of people claiming intolerance has skyrocketed. Also I’ll admit that I use the same towel to wipe the plates for them as for everyone else, and I’ve not had a complaint yet. I personally believe that it is a very trendy disease at the moment and some people simply have to make other people work harder to make themselves feel special. For those that actually suffer from the disease (and don’t simply wish to not tell me that they are on the paleo diet) I have nothing but sympathy.

    • Shira

      You’re not getting complaints because some of us don’t get symptoms immediately; with trace contamination like that, I generally don’t get the stabby abdominal pains until I’m on my way home. You’re still deliberately poisoning us.

    • doug

      You do not “completely understand” Celiac — not by a long shot. You may not get complaints, but I’d bet you don’t get repeat business. Each person with Celiac is different and has different reactions to gluten.

      Further, Celiac is not a fad disease. It is an autoimmune disorder that has gone undiagnosed in the past. People have been living with the several symptoms.

      If you want to feature a gluten free menu, LEARN about Celiac. There is a big market out there.

      • harry

        Celiac is definitely not a fad disease. *Falsely claiming* it, is a fad. Makes it damn hard to distinguish the false positives. Speaking as someone who’s good friend actually does have an obscure genetic deficiency, I wish those falsely claiming such diseases would … I guess this is a family blog … I wish they’d shut up.

      • Paul

        I’ll reiterate that I said that I understand that the various types of gluten intolerance are real disorders, not that I completely understand Celiac disease. My point was that I believe that a significant portion of people claiming such intolerance have no such intolerance, but claim to rather than explain whatever fad diet lifestyle they choose to lead ( I actually have a Paleo friend that does this). I certainly get real Celiac sufferers in my restaurant, and I do everything in my power to provide a good experience for them. Further, I found this article very enlightening as I was unaware of how sensitive Celiac sufferers were to gluten exposure, and it gave me new insight into how severe the symptoms can be. That being said, the idea that some restaurant patrons will lie to me in order to get special treatment is something that I know for a fact, and I’ll bet that I’ll see fewer gluten free requests by this time next year, when those currently on that bandwagon move on to the next thing. Also, I know better than to poison my guests, its bad for business.

  • Fred

    I’m a chef/owner of a small 40 seat restaurant with 2 part time kitchen employees. I’d like to start out by saying I’m completely offended by the use of the term “dietary restriction” when referring to gluten intolerance or celiac. This is a non-contagious disease not a dietary restriction.

    With dietary restrictions, no dairy, vegetarian, no onions, no garlic and the like for the most part these are choices or inconveniences. If I forget that there is small amount of garlic in the mashed potatoes my guests probably won’t go home sick within 30 minutes of eating and probably won’t be violently ill for 3-7 days. I’ll fill terrible that I messed up and the customer can justifiably be unhappy with the restaurant and probably not return.

    With that said I’m also offended that someone with celiac disease would treat my business negatively because I can not accommodate them. If I’m honest with that person, they should be happy with my honesty not mad. I charge on average $28/person, this doesn’t equal the amount of money to have a separate everything to help a person with celiac disease, it’s not a matter of not wanting to or being to lazy to, it’s a matter of I just can’t.

    Celiac Disease is just that a Disease not an dietary restriction. I have complete sympathy for people that have it but deserve the same when I’m honest with them.

    • Mantonat

      This is a great attitude that more restaurants should embrace. It’s better to just say “sorry, I can’t do that” than to harbor resentment against customers or base an opinion on half-truths.

    • Tina

      I agree. I appreciate honesty from a restaurant when it comes to whether I can eat there or not. I always call ahead to new restaurants, and I can’t tell you how unbelievably frustrating it is to get a hostess or even chef and/or owner on the phone, who I can tell doesn’t know a thing about gluten, trying to tell me ‘”sure, we can probably do that.” Saying things like “um, yeah, ok, sure, probably” makes the person who would probably spend the next three days in the fetal position on my bathroom floor just get all warm and fuzzy about eating at your restaurant. I would much rather have them tell me they can’t accommodate at this time.

  • Janine

    You forget what you put in your food? Thank you for not offering Gluten free food. Btw, I have a friend who is severely allergic to garlic. She would be in th emergency room if you forgot to tell her about the garlic in the mashed potatoes.

    • Fred

      This is the exact type of attitude that angers me in the kitchen. I have over 30 distinct menu items, I’m juggling 5 saute pans, the grill and the fryer and i have to deal with the servers questions about someones dietary situation in the middle of this. If you or friend as a dietary issue and are not courteous/smart enough to call ahead and get your answers then its not my problem. I may make a memory mistake on the garlic in the potatoes during service but I’m smart enough to call ahead to the pharmacist to make sure my medication won’t interact poorly–this is no less important.

  • Shira

    To clarify: celiac disease is NOT “the inability to digest gluten”, it’s an autoimmune disorder.

  • Natalie

    Insightful info from someone who suffers from Celiacs Disease – I’m sorry to all of those who have to deal with this disorder.

    My question is the same thing everyone else is wondering — Is it that more people are getting diagnosed with Celiacs or are more people actually developing Celiacs Disease? Or, is this influx due to many people using GF as their current diet of choice? If that’s the case, I think Celiac’s Disease sufferers should take out more of their frustrations on the posers and less on the skeptics.

  • Natalie

    …And FYI: There are indeed people who will not eat pastas/bread/processed foods, etc for weight loss purposes and therefore deem themselves a gluten-free eater. This is what I am referring to when I say people using GF as their diet of choice.

  • heather

    Yes, we do get that sick. Celiac is an autoimmune disease like type 1 disbetes. Gluten free food is our medicine. Would anyone think it was OK for a type 1 diabetic to be given a dirty needle for their insulin?

  • Ina gawne

    Great post! I react exactly like Carol! I also have a friend who if by chance gets gluten contaminated actually vomits…thank god I don’t!
    To Paul the Chef – I do not believe it is trendy to say you are a Celiac. The reason it has skyrocketed is that many many people have gone years and years mis-diagnosed. For me it was 30! Celiac testing is much easier today then it was 30 years ago.
    As Carol pointed out: if a chef is told a customer has booked a reservation in advance and has Celiac Disease I would hope they do absolutely everything in their power to 1) get educated. 2) teach your staff and 3) take every possible precaution in the kitchen. It is a serious disease, and the repercussions from gluten contamination are horrendous!

  • Christy

    Not everyone with celiac disease has the same “external” symptoms, like upset stomach or bathroom fun, but everyone with celiac disease will have the lining of their intestines damaged every time a tiny amount of gluten is ingested. This damage takes a long time to repair. You can have celiac disease with no visible symptoms and you will still have the intestinal damage. At the end of the day, gluten is poison for our bodies.

    To this day, I have a hard time maintaining a healthy body weight. Prior to diagnosis I lost approximately 30 pounds in 6 months. It took me a year to gain back 10 pounds and now every time I accidentally ingest gluten, I struggle with losing more weight than I would care to. That is just one of the many ways gluten affects my body. Eating gluten-free helps me maintain my weight so that I don’t look like a walking skeleton.

    Please treat people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance (a valid diagnosis that is still being researched) with respect. Food is both poison and healing to us depending on what we eat. If you cannot feed us safely, please tell us directly. It is better to miss a meal than to end up with damaged intestines. I love food and I love the fact that food has helped heal my body. My diagnosis is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have learned so much about food and explored wonderful flavor combinations, cooked and baked my way through failures and successes and I am healthy. I have met people I might never have otherwise met because of the blessing of celiac disease. Life is pretty darn good.

  • harry

    Anyone else wondering how she managed to cook through French Laundry cookbook without killing herself (literally – the figuratively part has been nicely documented, by the lady herself)?

  • Sarah

    Not that everyone is going to read this but I would like to point out that the symptoms for Celiac are different with almost every person. Not everyone will suffer from everything that Carol mentioned and some people will suffer more. Some people never have outward symptoms but the hairs in their gut (villi) that absorb nutrients will still be destroyed which causes nutrients to not be properly absorbed. Untreated Celiac (not eating a Gluten Free diet) can lead to cancer and other serious conditions.