Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

‘Celiac disease ... can cause death’

Readers’ questions have stirred columnist Dr. Donohue’s interest in celiac disease, and one of his recent daily columns used this headline: "Celiac disease is quite common, can cause death in some cases." I’m guessing that hundreds of victims have written to him. Important research is in progress at the University of Maryland, at a California university and in other labs. I’ve read of no medicine, surgery, therapy or treatment for celiac disease.

Those of us who have endured celiac disease for about 20 years are thankful for national attention given by the popular Dr. Donohue. "Celiac disease is quite common, can cause death in some cases." That truth keeps me faithful to the celiac diet even when I occasionally must grin and bear it. While others enjoy pancakes, waffles or French toast, we celiacs plan carefully to consume enough healthful whole-grain corn chips, wild rice or rolled oats to aid our impaired digestive systems.

Here’s a test: Make a list of what you eat and drink at each meal - for a week or two. For a child, pack a lunch with no bread or cracker sandwich or cookie but with a meat, cheese, fruit and familiar "finger food."

Do not eat anything that contains wheat, barley, rye or millet. Read the fine print, or ask the cook or chef what ingredients unfamiliar food contains. Make notes! Take the cookbook to the dining table to learn what ingredients you are consuming. This can resemble a game for children and be valuable information to the celiac adult.

My dentist gave me a toothbrush and a sample of toothpaste after cleaning my teeth. Suddenly, the box and the paste were green, and I had a celiac reaction. The fine print ended with ingredients "yellow and blue." I learned in grade school that yellow and blue made green, and I’ve mixed yellow and blue all my life when I’ve wanted green.

My daughter, Nancy, and I were not surprised when we found that one of the ingredients was "yellow" (acceptable), but "blue" was a term we’d not encountered. We found it. "Blue" in the list of ingredients is harmful to celiacs. It was the culprit - causing a full-blown celiac reaction without my having swallowed a drop!

Yes, I’m a celiac! I can’t have bread for sandwiches or French toast, cookies, pie, cinnamon rolls, white gravy, doughnuts, waffles or pancakes - to name a few. I miss marshmallows - they’re flavored with barley and contain MSG. MSG is monosodium glutamate, and gluten is the culprit that haunts celiacs. I miss treats made with marshmallows.

I was eager to put a stop to my weight loss - from 130 pounds to less than 120.

My expenses have been partly for duplicating kitchen equipment. A friend gave me a new white toaster and marked it "Sue Only."

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