August 22, 2008

For Some, Being a Picky Eater is Necessary

By Stories by Rebecca Coudret n Courier & Press staff writer n 464- 7509 or [email protected]

Judy Gries was diagnosed with celiac disease about eight years ago.

"I found out my symptoms, which I'd been having for a while, were pretty common. I couldn't eat anything, so my body wasn't holding in nutrients. I was exhausted, just couldn't function," she said.

"Fatigue. Anemia. I couldn't keep anything in, not even water."

It "honestly was a relief" to know there was a name for her illness.

Usually, the symptoms are gas and bloating, changes in (frequency of) bowel movements, weight loss, fatigue and weakness.

The only treatment, says the Web

site WebMD, is "avoiding all foods with wheat, barley, rye or oats. Oats may later be gradually reintroduced into the diet."

WebMD says improvements in screening tests have shown that many people with this condition have only mild symptoms, but some are severe. The condition is now known to be more common than originally believed. Some research samples in the United States and Europe have shown celiac disease occurring in about one in every 100 to 300 people.

Gries, who is 59, said the problem "makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients, so you lose weight. But it was the total exhaustion that had me go to the doctor to find out what was wrong."

She told her doctor that despite her slim body, she had "a gut." When she mentioned that her sister, Bic Duncan, had recently been diagnosed "with something with 'gluten' in the description," the doctor ordered a gluten-tolerance test.

"I really didn't think it was going to be the same thing, because her celiac's is external and mine was all internal," said Gries. "But he said it was the same, and he told me to stay away from wheat. Completely. And he said to start eating yogurt right away because we're prone to osteoporosis."

But there was more to that precaution than just omitting bread and bread products, she said. "I have to make sure any medications I take are gluten-free. Even though salads are usually safe, I have to be careful of salad dressings. I've learned to use oil and vinegar."

The toughest part, she said, is "I can't go out and just enjoy myself the way other people can... I have to

eat what I know works for me:deli turkey - that's MSG- and gluten- free."

But, she said with a laugh, corn and potato products aren't a problem. "I can eat Fritos and potato chips." She can eat M&M's, but not malted milk balls.

"I just eat so plain. I'm really, really careful. I have energy now. I feel really good. I don't have any problems unless I get into something by mistake - and that's why I usually avoid restaurants."

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