Kim Pebley is a blogger who’s overcome celiac disease, now sharing her story and gluten free resources with others. Here’s our recent conversation:
Q: How old were you when you discovered you had celiac disease and how did that change your life?
A: In 2008, I just couldn’t accept that my awful gastrointestinal symptoms were ruining my life. My health had taken a sudden downturn with the birth of my third child in 2007. At 37 years old, I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease. Within a few months of eliminating gluten, I was able to stay conscious during the day (and out of the bathroom) to care for my child. Because of the amount of damage done to my auto-immune system, I may never fully recover.
Having a name for the cause of my symptoms has enabled me to help myself while helping others. In other words, I’ve become an advocate for celiac disease awareness and enjoy aiding others with navigating the road ahead. Many doctors who diagnosis celiac disease and/or gluten intolerance are not able to help their patients with dietary questions. They simply tell their patients to “be gluten free.” Newly diagnosed people are frightened and overwhelmed when they learn that gluten is in more than bread and in so many of their favorite foods.
Q: Cooking gluten-free sounds daunting to many people. Is it?
A: When I was first diagnosed, I was petrified because I wasn’t armed with any information by my doctor. He said to go gluten free….what did that mean? After starting to research celiac disease and gluten on the internet, I ate only fresh veggies and bland chicken breasts for 3 weeks due to fear. In reality, a majority of our family dinners before celiac disease were naturally gluten free. When I discovered that, I was relieved. The largest concern that plagues me is cross-contamination. We tend to focus on the ingredients but not the surfaces they touch or the source of cooking. Traces of gluten left behind on crockpots, toasters, pans, pots and cutting boards can cause your gluten free food to make you sick.
While the task of cooking is not daunting, in the beginning the whole concept of avoiding gluten can feel overwhelming. As time progresses, you will find your footing in the kitchen again.
Q: What about being frugal and gluten free in the kitchen. Can you briefly give an example of how this is possible?
A: The best advice I can give about being frugal is to eat local seasonal foods and avoid prepackage goods as the main source of your diet. Convenience foods tend to be rather pricey. This same advice would apply whether you are gluten free or not. Of course, there are ways to save money on the prepackaged goodies as well. Many companies will send you coupons if you check out their website and/or Facebook page. Throughout the internet you can also find great deals on certified gluten free and organic foods.
Q: Does your concern about gluten tie in at all to concerns about today’s genetically modified foods? Can you eat GMO corn and soy?
A: In an ideal world, we would all be able to afford to eat organically 100% of the time. Yes, I am rather concerned about the role that GMOs have played in our lives. My children and I aren’t the only ones to develop multiple food sensitivities. Food allergies among the next generation of children are on the rise as well. While I “can” eat GMO corn and soy, I choose not to. We look for the Non-GMO Project Certified Seal and organic food section when we are shopping.