A little bit about our Clan

Off and running is usually how my house is.  Our children are quite different one is a junior in college and the other is in second grade.  As different as their ages may be they do share one important thing in common, they are both allergic to gluten.  Our son’s allergy took some time to be diagnosed he spent a good many years at doctor appointments, specialist and just being plain sick.  It wasn’t till the summer right after he graduated high school that he was diagnosed.   Once the gluten was pulled from his diet he was like a different kid.
My daughter on the other hand was diagnosed very early at about the age of 5 years old.
They react very differently to gluten, it attacks my sons autoimmune system making him an easy target to almost every virus that would come his way and he can be wiped out for days with no energy.   My daughter breaks out in terrible hives that can leave scars with serious respiratory problems, my daughter is adopted from China and right before she was diagnosed I was beginning to wonder if her tuberculosis test that came back negative as a baby (all our kids have to have that test done when they get home to America) was a false negative and she actually had it that is how bad her respiratory problems where beginning to be.
So as  you can see there is no cookie cutter kid when it comes to gluten allergies.

What is Celiac Sprue Disease a.k.a  Celiac Disease  also Gluten Allergy
I will do my best to explain some of the symptoms and health issues that can happen to someone with a gluten allergy.
What gluten does to someone with a gluten allergy it interferes with the digestion and absorption of nutrients from food. People with celiac- sprue cannot tolerate gluten protein  found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats.   When people with celiac disease eat food or use products containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi—the tiny, finger-like protrusions lining the small intestine. Villi normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished,(You can look much different on the outside vs. the inside) no matter how much food one eats the nutrients are not getting to where they need to go because the Villi is damaged,  this is very serious and was the case with my daughter.
This is where your snow-balling affect begins.

What are some of the symptoms living with a gluten allergy that I have learned from our own experience,  and talking with our Doctor.

  • Individuals with celiac disease may develop diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, flatulence,iron deficiency,  abnormal bleeding, abdominal pain, depression, anxiety, eczema, weakened bones, hives, respiratory problems, fatigue and autoimmune problems.  Sounds horrific right but on the other hand….
  •  Many adults with celiac disease may have either no symptoms or only vague abdominal discomfort such as bloating, abdominal distension, and excess gas.  So as you can see again there is no poster child or cookie cutter person for gluten allergies, that being said it affects your intestinal track health about the same with damage to the Villi no matter which of the symptoms you fall under and you need to start doing something to get better the only thing to help is a gluten free diet… if you suspect a gluten allergy try a gluten free diet it can take sometime to feel better, as much as six months (it takes time for the Villi to grow back). Also very important once you feel better don’t slip back into the old lifestyle.. this gluten free diet is a lifelong commitment.   Because as long as it takes for the Villi to grow back one good helping of  gluten and it can wipe out all that hard work, that’s right your villi can be destroyed that easily..  But hang in there it is so worth the effort and commitment to live a life where you are finally feeling better!

Once you are diagnosed with a gluten allergy it begins a whole new chapter in your life, ” How Do I Cook”  was the chapter title for me. And for my children “What can I eat now?”  was theirs.
It has been a challenge for our family, but the results are so worth the adventure.  I hope here that you can find a place to share your concerns, aggravations and success stories!  Please join me as I share ours.
We are the Shellhamer family and live in rural Pennsylvania, my name is Jane and I have been married to my wonderful husband Mark for 25 years now.  We have two amazing children our son Tyler is a sophomore in college and has been gluten free for two years now.  Our daughter Jenna is in first grade and has been gluten free for about 1 year.  At the time of our families transformation I knew of no one that had to eat gluten free so this was quite a lonely transformation for our family.  My son was devastated but at the same time excited to finally find out what was making him so sick all these years.  Fortunately for us the Doctor of Natural medicine that finally diagnosed him and our daughter was a Celiac herself, Dr. Debra Dallas of Dallas Wellness Center, LLC
Dr. Dallas was so very helpful at pointing us in the direction of online stores and local grocery stores that sold gluten free products and was a great source of support.
As I said living gluten free is an adventure if your diagnosed later in life or even early.
You can say the experience finding what works for our family really brought the scientific part into it for me, I had to understand the new flours and how they worked and didn’t work.  What helped enhance them, what each flavor added and how to build different layers to my cooking that part is more of an art form for me.
Either way I am happy to say that my children are much more healthier these days.  The first year in college living in a dorm room remember, my son had no more than the sniffles even when everyone around him was sick and with everything that went around that winter, this was astonishing to me and just further affirmation that we were truly on the right path. And for my daughter to watch her run once again without losing her breath and not have such terrible marks all over,  I can say without a doubt how grateful we are to finally know.   So to you that has just been diagnosed with a gluten allergy I say hold on there are much healthier better days coming!

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