Finding or Creating Support if You are New to Celiac, Coeliac Diagnosis

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Good day to you.  I’m very pleased to introduce Claire Baker as a special guestblogger on my blog.  Claire is a very influential celiac, nutritional personality and is on social media with her thoughts, ideals, and philosophies in regard to living gluten-free and being a survivor of celiac.


About Claire Baker: 

Claire Baker has worked in community-based non-profit organizations in Philadelphia PA for 20 years and has a wealth of experience in engaging communities around political, health, and urban greening initiatives (here is her profile is on Linkedin).  She was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2010 and started So What CAN You Eat? to help others on their celiac journey.  In addition to coaching and resources, she is the author of So What CAN You Eat? Gluten-Free Paleo Vegan (mostly) Recipes for Health and Weight Loss available on Kindle at Amazon.com and the Quickstart Guide to Living Happy, Healthy and Gluten-free, available for free when you sign up for the mailing list.

She and her partner of 22 years have two boys, ages 11 and 8. Her kids have assisted her with a series of fun gluten-free product video reviews on youtube at www.youtube.com/clairebakerok.  You can learn more about Claire at www.clairebakerok.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/happyhealthyglutenfree, and twitter at www.twitter.com/clairebakerok.  And, if you live in the Philadelphia region, check out the gatherings at www.meetup.com/Gluten-free-in-Delaware-County.

Without further ado, here’s Claire Baker’s blogpost:

Finding or creating support if you are new to Celiac (or even if you’re not!)

I was pleased when Dougie asked me to write this blogpost about finding and creating a supportive network.  Dougie has built a remarkable following on Twitter and regularly tweets encouraging and educational celiac information.  While I rely on social media and the internet for support, I have done the majority of my celiac community-building in person.  Either way, it can be challenging to finding kindred celiac spirits out there.  In this post I offer some key techniques gleaned from my work in community organizing to help you find or build a community of your own.

From personal experience, I know that there is a certain amount of freaking out upon getting that initial diagnosis — after all, life as we know it, dietarily speaking, abruptly comes to an end.  The kitchen becomes a minefield.  Restaurants are new gauntlets to run.  We think that without the traditional stuffing and pumpkin pie recipe the holidays are ruined.  And then, little by little, we settle into our “new normal” and begin figuring out how to manage it all.  One great aid in having a pleasant journey is traveling it with family and friends who either “get it” or who support us anyway.

But not everyone has a supportive base of family and friends.  Some folks don’t get it.  Numerous examples abound out there.  Here’s a recent one posted at http://glutendude.com.  Sad, but it happens.  And what if your closest circle of supporters WANTS to help but doesn’t know how, and you don’t have the energy to educate all of them while you are trying to educate yourself at the same time?

We all need to know that we are not in this alone.  We all want to have a space where we don’t have to explain it.  And just as important, we need to find a way to be able to help others and share the gifts of our own experience.  There are a number of ways to approach finding and building a supportive network.  And there is a lot of good advice on the internet about how to find a support group.  In brief, here are my best bets to find existing support:

  • Ask the doctor or practice that identified your celiac for information about support groups.  Hospitals with a strong GI focus may also host a group or know of one.
  • Check the Gluten Intolerance Group website for a branch near you: http://www.gluten.net/local-branches.aspx
  • Google “Celiac Support Group” and the name of your city or region and see what comes up.
  • Go to www.meetup.com and see if there is a gluten-free or celiac meetup group near you.  It’s free and easy to lots of different kinds of affinity groups.
  • Seek support on-line.  Twitter is a great way to connect for conversation though it does take a little getting used to (you are limited to 140 characters per tweet, and just because you tweet something doesn’t necessarily mean someone will tweet you back.)  Be sure to “follow” GFDougie and Clairebakerok!
  • Join the celiac listserv and ask them about a group in your area.  Though it is a little old school, the celiac listserv is huge, with people from all over.  The collective knowledge and experience in that group is astounding and is underutilized in the celiac community.  Learn more here and send an email with the word “Subscribe” to CELIAC-subscribe-request@LISTSERV.ICORS.ORG.

You did all of these things and still came up with nothing?  Don’t give up!  You can start your own support group.  I started Gluten-free Delaware County (GFDC) to fill a gap I found in my region.  To start your own group, you’ll need to have some patience and perseverance.  Nothing gets created overnight, and it will take a bit of work to grow and keep it invigorated, but the payoff you’ll get in support and new friends is well worth it.  And you’ll have the satisfaction of being there when others who are newly diagnosed or new to your area need what you were looking for not that long ago.  Here are my steps for creating and sustaining a group of which can be your own:

  1. Decide what kind of group you want
  2. Pick a place, date and time for your first gathering
  3. Find the people and invite them
  4. Follow through, even if only one other person shows up
  5. Work with the people who show up to help decide the details of the next gathering
  6. Do it all over again

Decide what you want.  Mutual support?  Informational/educational meetings?  Potlucks?  Restaurant outings?  I created Gluten-free Delaware County (GFDC) to be mostly fun, mutual support, and food-centric.  I thought at first we’d meet at a community space and do potlucks or something, but after I hit a roadblock with finding a welcoming and free space, I modified my first gathering to be a weekend lunch at a chain restaurant that had a gluten-free menu.  My real goal was getting people together, and I figured I could get ideas for a potluck or presentation venue from the group.

Pick a place, date and time for your gathering.  I described the highly scientific approach above.  😉  The important thing is to just decide, but give yourself enough lead time on the date you select so that you have time to reach out to others who may be interested.  And since you will be reaching out to people you don’t know, for personal and safety reasons you may want to meet in a public place, at least for your first couple of gatherings.

Find the people and invite them.  Make a flyer and take it to your doctor’s office, the local health food store, chiropractor, yoga studio, and other outlets you find important.  Tell them what you are doing, ask if you can make the flyer available and if they can share the info with other patients/clients/customers.  Talk about it with your friends – it seems like more and more people know other people who are eating gluten-free these days.  Ask if such gluten-free notifications can be posted in your church bulletin or local community newspaper.   Put a flyer up in the library or at the store or at the hair dresser’s.  See if you can visit local community meetings taking place to either announce celiac or gluten-free or put it in their newsletter.  Of course you don’t need to use all of these methods, but the important thing is to get the “celiac” or gluten-free word out.

Use technology to find others.  This is a great option if you live in a bigger place or are shy and have a hard time with the personal favor-asking of the person-to-person method.  Use the celiac listserv, create a group at www.meetup.com (I did this.  It costs $12 a month to start a group, but it was a fast and easy way to reach a lot of people, and I could work on it at crazy hours.)  Try Craig’s List.  E-mail your friends and ask them to forward it to people they know who may be interested.  Post it on Facebook.  Maybe your town has an electronic bulletin board for activities.  Encourage RSVPs so that you have an idea of how many people to expect and then plan your gathering accordingly.  [For my first GFDC Meetup, I was really nervous that the group would be stiff and awkward. I discovered that celiac and gluten-free living is a GREAT icebreaker!  You start out already having something in common with the other guests, and the conversation flows from there.  This was awesome!]

Follow through.  Even if you only have one RSVP, host your event anyway.  You don’t know if someone else will show up unannounced, and you don’t want to lose the interest of the one person who did commit to attending. It can be discouraging, but it takes time to build a solid and interested group.  Be sure and engage your small group in thinking about the specifics of the NEXT gathering.  Just know that not everyone can come every time, so stay with it and don’t take low attendance personally.  Just work on your outreach strategy and know that making those one-on-one connections is so important that it’s worth putting up with a couple of small gatherings once in awhile.

Ask the other participants what they would like.  At the GFDC gatherings, I usually ask folks for ideas for where and when to meet next, and it’s great not only for generating ideas, but for keeping the conversation going.  The more people are involved in the decisions for the group, the more ownership they will feel toward it and the more likely they are to keep coming back.

Plan the next one.  Even if you set a specific time and place each month or week for your gatherings, you’ll have better success if you continue to bring the same rigor to planning each one.  And once you are rolling, you can ask other members or participants of the group to help get the word out to their networks and connections.  It builds from there.  Also consider asking someone in the group to help you with planning and logistics.  This will help you keep from burning out and let you miss a meeting from time to time without the gathering falling apart.  With GFDC we don’t have a set schedule, but I do try to schedule a gathering at least once a month, so I can flex it with my schedule and avoid conflicts with other happenings, holidays, etc.

Just as you have taken control of your health and well-being by adopting the gluten-free diet, you can take control of finding or building a support system.  It can take a bit of work, but the rewards are enormous and your universe of people who get it will widen immensely.

As you can see celiac connection and education is work.  But it’s well-worth knowing and educating what you and others go through in developing relationships with other celiacs.  Agreed?  I hope you enjoyed Claire’s blog and got some true celiac education in how to live a celiac lifestyle with support from Family, Friends, Co-Workers and others!

Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free.

Peace be with you.

Product Review: Rudi’s Gluten-free Bakery Tortillas (Wraps)

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Good day to you.  I recently approached Rudi’s Gluten-free Bakery and inquired if they had any gluten-free samples available.  In their response to me they stated they did and asked me if I would be interested in their gluten-free tortillas.  Since I’ve been searching for a gluten-free, high-quality, tasty wrap for quite a while now I immediately said “Yes!”  The above pictures are what I received.

Here are the products I received in further detail:

Rudi’s Gluten-free Fiesta Tortillas

Ingredients:  Whole Grain Flours (Sorghum, Brown Rice, Corn, Amaranth, Quinoa, Millet, Teff), Corn Starch, Tapioca Flour, Rice Flour, Water, Canola Oil*, Xanthan Gum, Evaporated Cane Juice, Cultured Dextrose and Maltodextrin, Salt, Baking Powder (Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Corn Starch), Guar Gum, Malic Acid, Red Bell Pepper Powder, Jalepeno Powder, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Carrot Granules, Parsley Flakes, Apple Cider Vinegar, Active Dry Yeast

* non-GMO, expellor pressed

Produced in a facility that also uses soy.


Rudi’s Gluten-free Plain Tortillas

Ingredients:  Whole Grain Flours (Sorghum, Brown Rice, Corn, Amaranth, Quinoa, Millet, Teff), Corn Starch, Tapioca Flour, Rice Flour, Water, Canola Oil*, Xanthan Gum, Evaporated Cane Juice, Cultured Dextrose and Maltodextrin, Salt, Guar Gum, Baking Powder (Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Corn Starch), Malic Acid, Active Dry Yeast, Apple Cider Vinegar

* non-GMO, expellor pressed

Produced in a facility that also uses soy.


Rudi’s Gluten-free Spinach Tortillas

Ingredients:  Whole Grain Flours (Sorghum, Brown Rice, Corn, Amaranth, Quinoa, Millet, Teff), Corn Starch, Tapioca Flour, Rice Flour, Water, Canola Oil*, Xanthan Gum, Spinach Powder, Evaporated Cane Juice, Cultured Dextrose and Maltodextrin, Salt, Baking Powder (Monocalcium Phosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Corn Starch), Guar Gum, Dried Cilantro Leaves, Malic Acid, Garlic Powder, Apple Cider Vinegar, Active Dry Yeast

* non-GMO, expellor pressed

Produced in a facility that also uses soy.

Since I’ve been searching for a gluten-free, ready-made wrap for quite a while now you can imagine my excitement and anticipation in receiving Rudi’s samples.  They came through with flying colors as their samples arrived to me via 2nd day UPS!  That, my friends, is Customer Service!

Upon receiving their samples, I opened the one package which intrigued me the most – the Fiesta Tortillas.  I like spice.  I took a nibble and could taste the hint of the Southwest (USA), yet not overpowering.  With this wrap, I made a gluten-free smoked turkey deli meat, cheese, and lettuce wrap with mayonnaise.  It was awesome!  The wrap did not crack or break.  The wrap’s texture wasn’t dry or “over-powering” in my mouth.  It was “a wrap!”  I’m so excited to have found a new option for packing a gluten-free lunch or having an easy dinner if I don’t want to cook!  Here’s a picture of the start of my lunch today:



I will be a returning Customer of Rudi’s Gluten-free Bakery in regard to Tortillas and hope you will consider them for your personal gluten-free options in the matter of convenience and natural ingredients they use.  They have a great product in regard to their tortillas and I will try others of theirs.

If you would like to contact Rudi’s Gluten-free Bakery yourself, here’s the contact information I have:  Via Website:  http://www.rudisglutenfree.com/.  Via Twitter:  Rudi’s Gluten-Free.  Via Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rudisglutenfreebakery?ref=ts

Disclaimer:  While Rudi’s Gluten-free Bakery provided me with these free gluten free products, I was under no obligation to review them, if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review.  I was not compensated to provide a testimonial of their products.

I hope this product review helps you with your own personal decisions in regard to a gluten-free diet and products available to you.

Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free.  Explore new gluten-free products and see if they’ll help you with your nutritional lifestyle.

Peace be with you.

Happy Independence Day, America!

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Good day to you.  The United States of America is 236 years old today, Independence Day (2012).

While we celebrate our Freedom by attending cook-outs, launching our boats, and enjoying other summertime pastimes; let us not forget our Freedom is not Free. 

Freedom is certainly not free to all of the United States Military who serve or have served our country with pride and patriotism.

So please, take a moment and reflect upon the reason for this Holiday and pay your respects to those who have sacrificed and died for your Freedom.

Peace be with you.

Are You in a Celiac Menu Food Rut?


Good day to you.  Many of us live fast-paced lives which causes us to put an important part of our lives, eating, on the back burner of priorities.  This causes a lot of us to purchase the same food items week-to-week and not exploit the many nutritional food choices out there.  For celiac disease survivors this can be especially problematic as nutrition is more important due to eating gluten prior to diagnosis causing malabsorption issues

So how do you raise the priority of creating nutritional meals with variety without compromising any other aspect of your life?  In my experience, I think you can accomplish this in many ways.  Initially, however, I feel you should outline a plan for yourself on paper by answering these questions:

  • How often do I want or need to go to the various food markets I shop at?
  • Do I shop for food items based upon sales advertisements?
  • Do I shop for food items based upon coupons I’ve collected?
  • How many specialized diets (i.e. gluten-free, non-dairy, vegetarian, etc.) am I shopping for?
  • Do I have specific food item cravings often?
  • How much time can I dedicate to cooking each meal?

There may be additional questions you may need to ask yourself depending on your personal and family  lifestyle.  Feel free to write those down with corresponding responses as well.

Now, what do you do with this information?  The information you gathered may be used in several ways.  I would start by setting up your grocery shopping to be the same day every week or however often you need to go to the markets.  Pick the day when your grocer has published new sales advertisements, for example.  By going the same day you are establishing a routine.  This routine will ultimately allow you to “schedule” yourself time to create the grocery lists of food items you need the day before.

Why do I mention scheduling time for yourself to create your grocery lists on the day before you do your food shopping?  So you can make a food plan, or create a menu, for the coming week or other time duration until the next grocery shopping day.  Remember the questions you answered above?  Based upon those responses, you can make outlines of what you’ll need to purchase on grocery shopping day.

Now here’s the bonus, positive part of creating a menu for yourself and your family.  This is the part where you can pull yourself out of your “menu food rut!”  Remember I recommended you “schedule” the day before grocery shopping to create your grocery lists?  Well, if you are creating a menu, then you can find new and interesting foods and recipes to try so you are not purchasing the same foods over and over!  If you are a celiac survivor, you can also take this time to confirm “new to you” food items needed are gluten-free.  When you have planned your menu, guess what?  You now have a stress-free grocery list with no forgotten items!

By creating menu plans and then grocery lists, you are guaranteeing yourself and your family variety, nutrition, and health. 

Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free.

Peace be with you.

Do You Have Celiac Disease and Are Currently not Diagnosed?

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Good day to you.  Today I’m honored to guest blog on the subject of celiac disease awareness and education by invitation of Ms. Gillian Stephen; thank you.  Celiac disease and the gluten-free diet are an often confused diagnosis and diet.  Recently, the gluten-free diet has been touted as a weight-loss diet by many major media commercial markets.  This couldn’t be further from the truth, as many gluten-free foods have twice the carbohydrates and sugars as their glutenous counterpart products.  What does all of this mean for you, dear reader?

In spite of the hype of the gluten-free diet, you may still have celiac disease and be undiagnosed with this hereditary disease.  Celiac disease is quite prevalent in the USA.  It’s generally agreed 1 in 133 American citizens have this disease.  It’s also agreed 97% of our citizens are not diagnosed with celiac disease.  Why?  Symptoms of celiac disease are often confused as being symptoms of other diseases or complications, causing misdiagnosis.  The average timeframe for an American citizen to be diagnosed with celiac disease is ten years. The confusion in the lack of diagnosis of celiac disease lies in two areas I feel.  One, celiac disease symptoms are vague enough to be as a result of any number of maladies and are not experienced by all who suffer.  Two, Doctors are not educated enough on celiac disease symptoms to provide an accurate analysis or diagnosis.  What does this all mean to you, dear reader?  You need to educate yourself and ask your Doctor questions in regard to your personal symptoms as those questions may result in the diagnosis of celiac disease for you.

Please read more of my celiac educational blog via Fitnessbuster.  Gillian’s blog focuses on health and nutrition as a way of life in order to lose weight as an end result.  I’m honored she’s provided me a great guest platform for celiac awareness on her blog.  I hope you enjoy more of her blogposts once you link to her site.

Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free.

Peace be with you.

Healthy Ageing Prevents Rapid Decline in Fitness


Good day to you.  Today I have the pleasure of offering you a great guest blogpost by an awesome Fitness and Nutrition coach, Mrs. Gillian Stephen, who I’ve recently met via Twitter.

Here is Mrs. Stephen’s biography in her own words: 

I’m a Fitness and Nutrition coach and also a mother of 2, a 1 year old and a 3 year old that keep me very busy.

The main areas that I focus on are weight loss and pre and post natal. The latter certification was brought about by my own pregnancies. I realised the importance of my own diet and fitness through pregnancy and post natal, to regain my shape and prior fitness levels.

I support individuals by helping them put together a strategy for weight loss. It incorporates making better food choices and fitting exercise into their busy schedules such that they lose the weight and keep it off, a lifestyle change.

Contact information for Mrs. Gillian Stephen:

I hope you enjoy Mrs. Gillian Stephen‘s educational thoughts on ageing, exercise, and good health.  Please read on …

Let’s face it none of us are getting any younger, so the old adage of,”Use It or Lose It” with regards to your fitness levels, becomes even more crucial as we age.  I personally don’t fear getting older but my wish is that I am healthy, so as not to be over reliant on others.  At the same time maintaining a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee no ailments but you reduce your risk and your body is more able to fight disease.  Your fitness levels are not a given and as you age if you are not actively working at maintaining your fitness levels it will decline. This is something that I have experienced at first hand after both my pregnancies, where it took time to regain my prior fitness levels having not trained as intensely or as frequently because of physical and time constraints.

A study done in 2010 at the German Sport University Cologne and published in the journal Deutsches Arzteblatt International found that a decline in fitness is less as a result of ageing but more attributed to a sedentary lifestyle.  It looked at a group of marathon and half marathon runners ranging in age from 20 – 79.  It found that, when the older athletes continued to train for the same duration and frequency as the younger athletes, there was a very gradual drop off in their performance.  Another study done last year at the University of Missouri-Columbia and published in the Journal of Applied Physiology appears to reinforce this.  It also found that an active lifestyle reduces age related risk factors whilst a sedentary lifestyle can in fact accelerate ageing, with a loss in muscle mass and a decrease in bone density and strength.

So what does this mean for you?  How regularly do you currently exercise?  You should be doing moderate amounts of aerobic physical activity for at least 150 mins a week or vigorous physical activity for 75 mins a week and at least 2 strength training sessions per week.  Try to aim for 30 mins a day, 5 days a week of physical activity.

Your workout routine should consist of cardio to get your heart rate up, burn calories and increase the efficiency of oxygen consumption e.g. walking, running, cycling, swimming.  Strength training to boost metabolism and help build muscle and tone e.g free weights, body weight, gym machine.  Flexibility and balance work e.g. yoga, pilates, stretching.

The benefits will be:

• Increased lean muscle mass to burn fat

• Maintain bone density to prevent diseases like osteoporosis and arthritis

• Weight Management

• Maintain mobility

• Maintain strength

• Prevent Cardiovascular disease

• Maintain flexibility

Don’t wait until you start to feel the effects of ageing or you need to exercise, start now laying down a good foundation to reap the many rewards.

Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free.  Educate yourself on the benefits of being with Fitness and Health so you may enjoy a more active lifestyle longer.

Peace be with you

How a Vegetarian Diet Can Help You Confront Cancer

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Good day to you.  Today I’m honored to introduce a special guest blogger, Ms. Jillian McKee.  Ms. McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009.  Ms. McKee spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

Read more:  http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/jillian/bio.htm#ixzz1yNG80nhv

Contact information for Ms. Jillian McKee:

I hope you enjoy Ms. McKee’s blogpost below in regard to health, nutrition, and education in regard to a vegetarian diet while surviving cancer.  Please read on …

You have a lot on your mind when you are going through cancer. Whether you have just been diagnosed, are in the middle of treatment, or are in recovery, it is difficult to keep track of everything that you need to do to survive this disease. Switching to a vegetarian diet can help you solve two problems at once. Eliminating meat from your diet will positively impact your health in several different ways while adhering to a vegetarian diet can make it easier to plan proper meals while dealing with cancer.

There is nothing magic about a vegetarian diet and doctors do not immediately recommend it for all their patients. However, you would be hard-pressed to find a doctor who advised against it. There are many positive benefits to careful vegetarianism that can help you manage treatment and recovery and also help you deal with stress. Vegetarianism aids in many ways including:

Most vegetarian diets are naturally higher in fiber. Physicians cannot stress enough the importance of eating enough fiber. This substance’s ability to clean out your digestive tract plays an important role in keeping down your weight, lowering cholesterol levels, and maintaining your energy. When people switch to a healthy diet, they usually report lower levels of stress as well. Much of this may be an indirect result of the weight loss that typically follows such a change in habits.

Vegetarian diets are high in more than fiber. At the very least, when you avoid meat, you lower the amount of toxins entering your system. A properly balanced vegetarian diet plan will include many antioxidants and various herbs that help your organs cleanse your bloodstream and reduce cell damage.

When you switch to vegetarianism, you will probably experience a renewed sense of energy. This is not a magical effect but rather a natural result of a plant-based diet. Most people who avoid meat will also feel much lighter. This is a result of the intestinal tracts being cleared of so much extra weight. An average person in a developed nation may have several pounds of meat and processed foods clogging their digestive tracts because they do not eat enough fiber. While the newer, lighter state of being is positive in itself, it also makes it easier to do things such as exercise and stay focused on keeping healthy during treatment and in recovery.

There are many types of vegetarianism, so you should not quail from considering this change because you fear that you will never taste good food again. A vegan is a person who completely excludes all animal matter and any foods related to the service of animals from his or her diet. There are also lacto-vegetarians, who permit themselves to drink milk, and ovo-vegetarians that eat eggs. If you have just experienced a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis or are undergoing treatment for some variety of cancer, take a look into the vegetarian lifestyle and see if you could make it work for you and your health.

Research, educate, and advocate all celiac and gluten-free.  Expand your mind with the information others provide on something you may not have known.

Peace be with you

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