Celiac’s Disease is is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten.  Gluten is  is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.  I’ve been on a search to find places to eat that have gluten free options in Omaha because a year ago I was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease.

I started college in 2007 and started to become terribly ill.  I had no idea why.  There was no rhyme or reason to the constant pain and itchiness that I was feeling.  One moment I would feel fine and the next moment I would be curled up in a fetal position screaming for the pain to stop.  It was an odd pain.  It would come and go, and it usually became worse after meals.  After eating  I could feel my body react horribly to what I had just consumed and a few hours later I would break out into rashes all over my body, but unfortunately that was the least of my worries.

I knew that something was wrong so I went to the doctor.  The first three doctors I saw just told me that I was stressed out and that a mass amount of new stress can do this to the body.  I was skeptical, as I should have been.  I’ve been stressed out before and this was not being caused by stress.

A few years had passed and nothing had changed.  The pain was now constant.  My parents were slowly seeing a change in my appearance, my hair was falling out of my head and I started to refuse to eat anything.  It hurt too much.  It wasn’t worth it.  This is when my mom decided to take me to see a specialist at UNMC.  This specialist decided that he wanted to take my gallbladder out.  So after much deliberation I had a cholecystectomy.  I missed some school, some work and was pretty uncomfortable for about a month.  Still the pain lingered.  Everyone thought I was crazy.

I decided that I was going to go to one last doctor before I too would start to think that I had become a hypochondriac.  This doctor sat down with me and listened to everything that I said, he actually listened.  It was refreshing.  He smiled at me and went, “Wow.  You’ve never been tested for Sprue/Celiac Disease?”

Immediately this doctor had a nurse come in a draw a few samples of my blood.  The doctor explained to me that he believed that I was allergic to gluten.

I was in awe.  I’ve heard about people who can’t eat gluten, but me?  Was gluten the criminal at hand?  Was this causing the constant suffering and pain that I had been living with for years? Would I have continued to live like this if he were not have had an answer?

A week after I had had my blood drawn the doctor called me and gave me my resluts.  I was indeed allergic to gluten.  My prayers were answered.  Was this actually the cure I had been waiting for?  Yes! Yes it was.  My doctor setup an appointment with myself and a nutritionalist.  I learned the basics of what to eat and what to stay far away from.

Having a food allergy is challenge that you have to face everyday, but it is very easy to avoid having a reaction, or so you would think.  It’s been a year and I am still struggling with the idea of avoiding gluten.  Gluten is found in almost everything.  If it comes in a box at the grocery store, there’s a very strong chance that it contains gluten.

The hardest part about living g-free is all the temptations.  It’s so hard to say no when someone offers you a cookie.  Yes, I want that cookie right now!  But you have to say no and politely explain why you can’t have cookies unless they are made with rice flour.

My best advice for people who have just found out that they are allergic to gluten is to research, research, research!  There are a million books on being g-free, groups and people who having been living g-free that will answer your questions.

Q & A Time:

Q:  So what do you eat and where do you eat if you are allergic to gluten?
A:  I personally like to make all of my meals and snacks.  I don’t trust restaurants and labels.  If a crouton even touched the salad that I am eating I can become instantly sick.  Restaurants do not realize how severe some food allergies are.  Take into account people who are allergic to peanuts:  If they eat a peanut they can die.  People, especially in the food industry, need to realize how important it is to not contaminate and cross-contaminate the meals of people with food allergies.

Q:  Do you eat out at restaurants?
A:  Yes, but I don’t like to on a regular basis.  If I do eat at a restaurant I will be sure to check the menu before I go there to make sure that they have a g-free option.  When I order I like to let the server know that I have a gluten allergy and if there are any questions about the ingredients to make sure that the chef is informed and questioned.  However, you are always taking a huge risk by not knowing the procedures of preparation.

Q:  Where do you grocery shop?
A: I shop for groceries everywhere.  I personally prefer Hy-vee because they have a whole entire isle of gluten free food.  It’s amazing to see a grocery store cater to such specific needs and it is very much appreciated in the gluten free community.

Q: I have a meal plan at Creighton and I just found out that I am allergic to gluten.  Is there anything that I can eat?
A:  Yes, but the options are very limited.  I actually have a flex meal plan and use it on a daily basis.  I am just very careful about what I eat.  Today I had tofu and carrots.  Jack and Eds even offers gluten free TV dinners and Bumble Bars.

Q: What do you do about snacks?
A:  There are many bars that are gluten free.  I like to always have one in my backpack and purse.  You never know when you are going to get hungry and be surrounded my gluten with no g-free options.

Q:  What is your favorite place to eat in Omaha that has gluten free options?
A:  I love Blue Planet!  I cannot stress to you how amazing their food is and how many options they have!  They have the most amazing gluten free pizza! They also have spicy thai bowls, wraps and seared ahi tuna.  This place is amazng!

 

Q:  Zio’s has a gluten free pizza.  Is it good?
A:  Zio’s does offer a gluten free crust, but what they forget to tell you is that their kitchen is not g-free.  Hello cross-contamination!  I do not recommend enjoying the gluten free pizza at Zio’s.  I have given it a shot twice and regretted it both times.

Q:  Are there groups I can join to learn more about this?
A:  Yes!

Overall, it has been a journey to find out what I can and cannot eat.  If you are new to the gluten-free community and would like some of your personal questions answered then send me a message.  I will gladly answer.

Some things I really like to enjoy:

Bumble Bars

Blue Planet

Tofu

Gluten Free Brownie Mix

This book answered a lot of my questions: The G Free Diet

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