Celiac Awareness Month: Interview with Michelle Palin
Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to get your Celiac diagnosis?
I’ve written my full story on my blog here, but here’s a quick summary. I believe I had Celiac for about 18 years before my diagnosis. I was diagnosed after an endoscopy showed severe blunting of the villi in my small intestine, and blood tests showed off the charts positive as well. It was such a relief to have an answer to my very worsening health! It was literally life-saving. I went from being too ill to care for my family, to being able to travel with my family in less than a month, once I eliminated all gluten.
Does anyone else in your household have Celiac? Does everyone eat gluten-free at your house? What recommendations do you have for simplifying meal time?
No one else in my family is diagnosed with Celiac Disease. My boys have been tested multiple times over the years and are monitored in case they do develop it.
My family eats gluten-free in our house. They all eat gluten away from our house, or sometimes in our backyard if they bring home something they really want from school or a party! I found it really simplified mealtime when we made our kitchen entirely gluten-free and all meals I make gluten-free. I don’t have to make separate meals, keep pans and utensils separate, etc.
You are an avid baker, what advice do you have for others who love baking and now have to do so gluten-free?
Be optimistic! You really can have gluten-free baked goods that taste as good as you remember! Aside from tricky yeast breads, gluten-free baking is pretty easy if you use a good quality gluten-free flour blend. Don’t be afraid to get in the kitchen and bake! Start by making your tried and true favorites with a gluten-free flour blend and a binder like xanthan gum and see how they turn out.
How has being gluten-free today changed from 8 years ago when you were diagnosed?
There is so much more awareness now and so many more products available. When I was first diagnosed, I personally knew nothing about Celiac, and didn’t know anyone that ate gluten-free. Now I meet people that are gluten-free every week. Also, good gluten-free bread used to be so hard to find, now it’s in just about every grocery store thanks to Canyon Bakehouse!
What tips would you have for other families who may have a member with Celiac Disease?
Be supportive; don’t encourage them to cheat; invite them to join you even if they can’t eat the food; give them the freedom to bring their own food to family dinners or events without criticism.
What are some of the things that took you longer to figure out once you went gluten-free?
It took me a while to realize all the non-food products that can have gluten that I would need to avoid. I was getting glutened from an over the counter fiber supplement for a while before figuring that out. I was also getting small amounts of gluten from using a hair product with wheat in it. I finally learned that you really have to check and double check every product, and I still have to check products that I’ve been using for years in case ingredients have changed.