Dietitian Spring Cleans After Long NYC Winter


“The world is mud-lucious and puddle wonderful.” (ee cummings)

Finally it’s arrived after a very long, very cold, very bitter winter. Spring is about new beginnings, new life. This month on the blog we’re going on a spring cleaning binge, sweeping away old behaviors with some new ones. We’ll be brushing off dusty old ideas about exercise and nutrition, disease and diet, and we’ll be replacing them with up-to-date information. And in the meantime, we hope to shine light on Celiac disease, osteoporosis, senior and women’s health and fitness as well as the famous Mediterranean diet. It’s springtime. It’s time to puddle stomp and window wash, throw on a light jacket to run errands instead of avoid the outdoors. It’s time for new life, new information, and a new outlook on things.

May is Celiac Awareness month. Gluten-free is the buzzword in food products this past couple of years. People are swearing off anything with wheat, barley and rye. From a registered dietitian’s point of view, it’s uncomfortable to see a serious, autoimmune disease become a trend. Today on the blog, we want to discuss what Celiac disease is, who it affects, and how it has to be treated, as nutrition is the key to staying healthy with Celiac.

Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder that affects approximately 1% of the population (1 in about 133 people). It’s estimated that 83% of the people are misdiagnosed or undiagnosed because there are over 300 symptoms related to Celiac and each individual presents them in a different way or combination. Celiac, then, becomes a diagnoses of exclusion – when seemingly everything else has been eliminated. To learn more about Celiac Disease, visit Celiac Central.

Celiac disease damages the villi of the small intestine and prevents the absorption of nutrients from food. Many people associate Celiac with someone who gets stomach aches after eating bread, but the disease is much more serious than that. It is related to infertility, migraines, thyroid disease, Type 1 diabetes, osteoporosis, and intestinal cancer among others.

Celiac disease is not the same as gluten sensitivity. Some people are affected by gluten products and experience similar symptoms to those with Celiac disease, but the big difference is that the intestine doesn’t get damaged. Treatment, though, is similar in both cases.

Registered dietitians and nutritionists work with clients with Celiac disease to teach them how to eat and stay healthy, as the only treatment is a strict diet.

So what is a gluten-free diet?

Some foods are obvious, but many products, more than we think, are made using wheat, barley, and rye. So those who have Celiac must become expert label readers. Click here to learn more about reading labels. Eating in restaurants can be tricky due to cross-contamination of products. Be prepared to be prepared, packing your own meals and food.

Products that must be stricken from a Celiac diet include: breaded foods, breads (bagels, croissants, buns), cakes, donuts, pies, most cereals, processed meats (like hot dogs, ham etc), crackers, chips, pancakes, pasta, pizza, soups, beer, whisky, candy, marinades and sauces (including soy, gravies, teriyaki), and dressings.

But living with Celiac doesn’t mean you’re going to experience a flavorless life. Many gluten-free foods are made with potato, rice, soy and bean flour. There are many products that can be used to keep your diet rich and varied. And many foods are naturally gluten-free. To read the Gluten-Free Diet Guide, click here.

Living with Celiac just gives us an opportunity to be more creative. Replace pasta with brown rice or quinoa. Bake cookies with potato or soy flour. Make pancakes with rice flour and tapioca flour then top with fresh strawberries. The flavors are there, and, as there is more awareness, so are the products.

Ask your doctor to recommend a registered dietitian to help you learn to grocery shop, cook, eat and live with Celiac.