As some of you may have heard, this week I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I was shocked, as I went in to be tested for something else. There is a small chance that the diagnosis could be wrong, so further blood tests at being run to confirm the diagnosis.
Celiac disease is a genetic disease, but some people who have the gene sequence do not develop symptoms. "According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, if you are a first-degree relative (parent, child, brother or sister) of a person with celiac disease, you have a 1 in 22 chance of developing the disease in your lifetime. If you are a second-degree relative (aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, grandparent, grandchild or half-sibling), your risk is 1 in 39". (link). So odds are, if you're related to me: you're probably safe, but watch out for it. It manifests in a lot of different ways, and is very hard to diagnose by dietary experiments.
Gluten is in EVERYTHING, and figuring out whether or not it contains gluten is very complex, since it is often not specifically labeled as other common allergens are. Brown rice syrup, lunch meats, dressings, soy sauce, imitation bacon, and many other innocent sounding foods SOMETIMES DO contain gluten (link). It doesn't matter if I consume a little bit of gluten, or a lot of gluten: a small amount is all it takes to trigger auto-immune response, which in turns causes the damage. I went off of grains for 4 weeks during my low glycemic diet, but likely still consumed other products containing gluten during that time; this may be why I and other doctors missed the association.
To my friends and family reading this: I fear my diet, now even more restrictive than ever, will be more of a burden for others than it is for myself. I want to be clear: I have absolutely zero expectation that anyone prepare any special food for me at any family function, gathering, or party. It's stressful to others, and it's stressful to me. I'll plan on bringing my own food, or waiting until I get home to eat. So please, if you say, "I'm sorry I forgot to plan something for you, Tim", know that I will be mad (only for a brief second) for not honoring my wishes to not worry about me or feel any induced stress from my dietery needs. I'm very serious about this.
(I will be grateful if you do remember, and do plan something. I just don't expect it. I will need to dissect the ingredient list, and please don't be disappointed if I find a possible of source of gluten.)
Further reading on Wikipedia
Update: Blood test results confirmed the diagnosis.