What is Celiac Disease? What is it Like to Have Symptoms?
"I Was Devastated at the Thought That I'd Never Be Able to Eat Pasta Again!"
Catherine Johnstone is a 25-year old personal fitness trainer who lives in Cairns, Australia. Cairns, located in the north of Queensland, is a popular destination because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. Imagine a beautiful day snorkeling in the Reef, followed by joining friends and family for dinner on a warm, tropical night in Cairns. But having dinner at a restaurant with Catherine's condition could be way more dangerous than encountering the most fearsome looking fish or shark in the sea. You see, Catherine has Celiac Disease, a condition in which the body attacks itself, mistaking the protein in wheat--gluten--as a dangerous substance. (Gluten is also in rye and barley, but wheat is the most common ingredient with gluten.)
"Pasta is my kryptonite!" says Catherine Johnstone, who is on a strict gluten free diet. Thanks to Miracle Noodle, she can eat lots of pasta again despite being diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Imagine the Horrific Life Sentence of Never Being Able to Eat Pasta (or Pizza) Again!
When Catherine eats something with gluten, say a wheat cracker, the microscopic villi (mini finger-like organs in the intestines) that absorb nutrients from food become heavily damaged.
Modern wheat is heavily processed and not as nutritious as ancient wheat. But most people can tolerate gluten. But not Catherine. She is one of the unlucky estimated 1% of the population that has Celiac Disease. And the only known cure for avoiding the terrible symptoms (severe cramps, diarrhea, bloating, etc.) is avoiding gluten 100% of the time. While 1 percent of the population might not sound like much, many medical experts believe that many more people have Celiac than are diagnosed. People are usually unaware that they have it. If someone experiences Celiac symptoms, they might take medication to deal with what they perceive as bad indigestion. It's estimated that it takes 6-10 years for the average person with Celiac to be diagnosed! It took Catherine a long time to get diagnosed. Let's hear her story. Here's an interview we had with Catherine recently via Skype to find out what it's like to have Celiac Disease....
Catherine's Miracle Transformation Story: From misery to mastery of a gluten free diet filled with satisfying low-carb dishes....
Miracle Noodle: How long have you been diagnosed with Celiac and does it run in the family?
Catherine Johnstone: I was diagnosed with Celiac at age 22, so around three years ago. My mom is wheat and gluten intolerant. She can eat things with gluten but she suffers the consequences from it afterwards, although not as bad as I.
MN: What were your symptoms? CJ: Initially, I just had bloating. So I went to my doctor. He thought it was lactose intolerance at first. So he recommended I avoid dairy. But then I replaced dairy with lots of bread. And so my symptoms got worse, much worse! Besides bloating, I had water retention and bad rashes. I had such low energy it wasn't funny. Also, to put it mildly, I had lots of toilet trouble.
MN: When you presented with these symptoms to your doctor, then what happened? CJ: So I went back to the doctor and he recommended I do a strict elimination diet. I started with the simplest diet possible. I avoided everything except protein and vegetables.
MN: How did you feel while on this strict elimination diet? CJ: I felt amazing. Everything just cleared up. I had no more symptoms. The problem is that it gets very boring just eating chicken and veggies all the time!
MN: What foods were introduced back in your diet and how long did it take to get diagnosed with Celiac? CJ: Potatoes, and even certain veggies that many people are allergic to like tomatoes and onions were re-introduced. I also ate pasta, rice and bread again and all the symptoms came back. It took months and months and many more after that but I was finally diagnosed.
MN: How did you feel emotionally after you were diagnosed with Celiac? CJ: When I was diagnosed I was just so relieved, because it took months and months to pinpoint my symptoms. I was also elated because I finally learned exactly what I could add to my diet besides chicken and veggies. I also finally knew what I needed to cut out.
MN: So you felt great after your diagnosis? CJ: Not exactly. A week after I was diagnosed, I was really bummed after reality set in, knowing that I couldn't have pasta or bread anymore. You see, pasta is my kryptonite! I don't really have a sweet tooth so all the gluten-free sweets that are on the market these days doesn't really appeal to me.
MN: Why do people with Celiac Disease have to be so careful about what they eat. Why is it critical that you stay on an extreme gluten-free diet? CJ: Let me give you this scenario: If I'm at a cafe and I ask the waiter, "Is this bread gluten free?" and the waiter says, "Yes, it's gluten free," what the waiter doesn't realize is that the gluten free bread is toasted in the same toaster as the normal bread. And when it comes on the plate it can contain the crumbs from the normal bread. That's all it takes ... a few crumbs ... for me to go home in agony!
MN: What's your biggest criticism about the Gluten Free Industry? CJ: The food and hospitality industry needs to up their standards and educate themselves more if they are going to offer and market gluten free products. Food manufacturers need to do more to prevent cross-contamination.
MN: Have you ever had any symptoms after eating Miracle Noodles? CJ: No! I've never had a single problem with Miracle Noodles. I've never had any kind of reaction. The threat of cross contamination always weighs heavily on my mind. I almost never go out to dinner anymore since I've become diagnosed. There are a couple of 'Paleo' restaurants in Cairns but that's about it.
MN: Did you try other pasta alternatives after your diagnosis? CJ: I tried brown rice pasta but truthfully I find it disgusting. In Australia we have anothershirataki pasta brand but it's so expensive. I couldn't afford it. Luckily, a friend of mine introduced me to Miracle Noodles and the rest as they say, is history. I really like the price of it compared to other brands of gluten-free noodles.
MN: What was your first experience like with Miracle Noodles? What did you cook? CJ: I followed one of your basic recipes online and cooked the noodles in a frying pan. First I tried the penne and I added a bolognese sauce. I made sure all the water from the noodles evaporated before I added the sauce. Then I tried the fettuccini and the Miracle Rice. I even made a sushi with the Miracle Rice!
MN: Do you have any suggestions for Miracle Noodle? CJ: I really admire what you're doing with the weight loss aspect for Miracle Noodle. But not everybody needs to lose weight. I'm actually a bit underweight. Many people with Celiac are on the underweight side. Celiacs can benefit tremendously from Miracle Noodle!
Even if You're Not Allergic or Intolerant of Gluten, Cutting Down On Gluten Can Boost Your Health. I've Seen it with My Own Eyes!
Thanks for sharing your story, Catherine! Good luck on your personal training business. Catherine also told us she wants to train others with Celiac Disease and be a nutrition coach.
Good on ya, Catherine! As a medical doctor who has treated many patients through diet adjustment therapy such as gluten elimination, I'm pleased at how the gluten-free market has grown.
But as Catherine points out, people such as food marketers and restaurant managers need to think before nonchalantly throwing the gluten-free label around without realizing the consequences for the millions of people who are severely allergic to it.
Now even if you're not very allergic to gluten, I've seen many symptoms such as inflammation get much better or even disappear after reducing or eliminating gluten from the diet. Every day, I wake up proud knowing that Miracle Noodle has helped thousands of people fall back in love with pasta.
Please tell your friends and loved ones through email and social media that they, too, can enjoy noodles again without the negative side effects! To your health, Jonathan Carp, M.D. Miracle Noodle President & Founder