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The Celiac Section

Going Gluten-Free: It’s A Journey

A Surprising Number Will ‘Cheat’

Dahlia James was diagnosed at age 3, and grew up with celiac disease. But even she often said, “Yes, please” – because that was easier than explaining “why not”. Back then, the Vancouver native preferred to brace herself for the shooting abdominal pains that she would get from the instant Japanese noodle soup or sandwich offered by adults who didn’t know any better.

“When I was around 13, I didn’t understand the severity of the disease,” she says. “I also don’t think anyone knew about gluten-free food. It wasn’t on their radar, and I wasn’t going to put it there.”

Surprisingly, many others feel the same when it comes to the dietary restriction. In fact, only 68 per cent of respondents to the CCA’s survey said they would “never” intentionally eat gluten, while 32 per cent admitted they intentionally eat foods that contain gluten at least once a year.

Marion Zarkadas, one of the lead researchers of the study of more than 5,700 people between the ages of 18 and 93, says she is concerned by findings that show some people continue to suffer symptoms from celiac disease, including joint pain, even after they have eliminated gluten from their diet.

Zarkadas, a registered dietitian and member of the CCA’s professional advisory board, says one of the explanations could be that patients tend to be offered very little support from their doctor after they’ve been diagnosed.

“Maybe the symptoms are due to other conditions they have, or maybe they are unknowingly consuming gluten in something they think is safe,” she speculates. “With celiac disease, after diagnosis, you’re on your own. You’re responsible.”

Next Page: Getting Serious About Managing

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