If you’re in the celiac world maybe you’ve heard of Dr. Peter Green, the Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York. I can’t even remember who it was that suggested I go to see Dr. Green. It was so long ago. I took their advice and set up an appointment with him. On a beautiful autumn day, just like today, in October of 2004 with my husband driving, we made the trek into New York with my mom along for the ride.
Dr. Green looked at the x-rays of my pelvis and abdomen that I was asked to bring along. He didn’t see anything that would indicate a reason for concern. He re-enforced the need for me to strictly adhere to the gluten-free diet. He set up an appointment for me to return the following week to meet with the nutritionist. Of course this meant that my husband and I had to both take off another day from our jobs. I love to drive but driving in New York is a little unnerving for me.
So… the following week I met with the nutritionist. I found her to be very helpful. She gave me a booklet that reinforced the foods I could eat, as well as foods and ingredients to avoid. However, here at the Celiac Disease Center, I felt that they put a more positive spin on the foods that I could safely eat. One section of the booklet was termed Survival Guide. It was here I discovered I could eat ice cream again. On a previous visit to a nutritionist near home, I was told no more ice cream but to have frozen yogurt instead. I learned to like frozen yogurt but flavor choices were limited. The ability to eat ice cream again was exciting news. I left there that day feeling a bit uplifted about the gluten-free diet. I read excerpts from the booklet aloud to my husband on our drive home. Believe me… I wasn’t jumping for joy after reading this booklet. It was extremely difficult for me to steer clear of so many things I had been eating and loved for years.
There was also a Gluten-Free Shopping Guide section in the booklet that concentrated on essentials for a gluten-free kitchen. It told the reader to purchase such things as a new cutting board and colander, for example, in order to avoid cross contamination. It actually said to take my time and browse in food stores, read labels, and have fun!
Another section of the booklet concentrated on hidden sources of gluten such as in soy sauce, processed cheeses, prepared cake frosting to name a few. I would never have guessed that gluten could be found in so many food products other than baked goods, cookies and pasta. Reading labels was a very important task for me now. One of the buzz words to look for is modified food starch. This could mean it may be derived from wheat. If it says modified corn starch it would be ok because then it was derived from corn and corn is safe for consumption by someone with celiac. Soups and gravies were off limits because they may contain wheat starch as a thickener.
Dr. Green wrote the book “Celiac Disease – A Hidden Epidemic” which I later purchased. It’s packed with all kinds of information regarding symptoms, diagnosis and associated illnesses.