In my home there are five children, two dogs, a mother-in-law and a husband. I do not have time for complicated, yet life has handed me food challenges that would make most people cringe. With one child allergic to milk proteins (including casein and whey), another allergic to shellfish, and me with adult onset celiac, DH and all of the fun things that go with…well, life seemed to have a different idea.
An emergency surgery in June, 2009, triggered adult onset celiac and dermatitis herpetiformis (DH). Prior to that, I had other symptoms of malabsorbtion, including a life long battle with iron-deficiency anemia. I constantly felt hungry, overwhelmingly hungry, no matter how much I ate; I now believe it is because my body just never got enough nutrition.
In addition to my daughter who is severely allergic to cow’s milk proteins, my son has a severe allergy to shellfish and thus, much of what I make is from scratch. When I learned that my son’s best friend from first grade has celiac, it was only natural for me to wrack my brain and try to figure out ways I could ensure his friend was always included in our events…birthday cakes, pizzas, etc…I did my best to make something for him as well. I believe my time with that family, in addition to the adjustments I had already learned to make for my daughter, all prepared me for what was to come.
My diagnosis was more expedient than most. Because the rash and welts appeared almost immediately after surgery, it was initially thought that I had an allergic reaction to the medication that was given me at that time…the stomach pains started shortly after, but again, we thought it was the medication. Steroids, Benadryl, nothing would clear it up completely.
After several months of continuing to fight the welts and feeling ill, I approached my Dr with the idea that I needed to go through an elimination diet. Outside of the steroids and allergy medications, I had been off the antibiotics (which we originally believed were the culprits) for nearly two months, and nothing was getting better. Within a couple of weeks of eliminating wheat, I got better. From that moment, I had no doubt what I had.
It took several months to officially diagnose celiac, even longer to learn what DH is (and inform my Dr about it) which explained the welts I had suffered. It also took nearly as long for me to figure out exactly what gluten is (Wheat, Barley?? Rye too?? Really?? No more malt, ever?? MAN!).
Because of the extreme sensitivity I have, we, as a family, decided it was best to create a gluten free environment in our home. My children get their chance at gluten; we just don’t make anything in the house so as to avoid cross contamination.
After a year of steroids, I am finally on the right track (and off the medicines!). I hope to help my body heal in full, and look forward to not only a healthier life, but a tasty one at that!
Here, together with the brilliant insight of other parents juggling similar food concerns, I hope to bring you ideas that will keep your table not only interesting, but healthy and delicious for EVERYONE you feed.
More than anything, no matter what challenges life brings I believe we should not just have our cake and eat it; we should be able to have our cake…AND LOVE IT TOO!