Celiac students must have certain diet

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Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2011 - 7:50pm

Have you ever faked being sick because you wanted to get out of having to go to school, work or just anything you didn’t really want to do? If you have, you know that the best form of “fake sickness” is a stomach ache; because no one can accurately prove that you are in pain or not.

Almost everyone can honestly say that they have done this and have gotten away with it at least once or twice. But while plotting your way out of that calculus test; have you ever stopped and thought I’m lying about my pain and everyone believes me, but what if I really were in pain and no one believed me?

For decades individuals who have complained about constant stomach pains or anemia have been told that they are either a hypochondriac, have a returning case of the stomach flu or must have just eaten something that upset them. Any of these could be the truth, in recent years scientists and doctors discovered that the latter may be the most accurate reason for discomfort in the cases of those diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

Celiac Disease—or Gluten Sensitive Enteropathy—has technically been around for centuries, however; the ability to diagnose it is relatively new. According to www.celiac.org, when those who are established with having Celiac Disease “eat gluten (wheat) the villi (tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients from food) are damaged. This is due to an autoimmune reaction to gluten. Damaged villi do not effectively absorb basic nutrients—proteins, carbohydrates, fats etc.”

Some other basic facts about CD are: its symptoms include abdominal cramping, bloating of the stomach, chronic diarrhea and/or constipation, anemia, headaches, along with several other indicators. Other disorders associated with it are Type-1 Diabetes, liver disease, Lupus, Turner Syndrome, Down syndrome, Fibromyalgia, etc.

It is interesting to know that although Celiac Disease is related to problems associated with food; it is not a food allergy. Among the many difference are that food allergies can be grown out of or can be treated, whereas; with autoimmune diseases, such as CD, there are no miracle pills to ingest or shots to take. The only way to stop the effects of Celiac Disease is a life style change that revolves around a gluten-free diet, constantly reading labels and identifying ingredients that could be posing as celiac-friendly.

By now you’re probably thinking this is all really wonderful and interesting, but what does it have to do with USU/CEU?

Statistics show that one in every 133 people in the United States is affected with Celiac Disease. That means that out of the population of USU/CEU students, at least ten people suffer from CD. Ten people isn’t a lot right now; but as the enrollment of USU/CEU students continues to grow and become more diverse, along with the continuation of research on this disease, that number will continue to grow too.

USU/CEU student, David Osborne, who has been living with Celiac Disease for the past few years, says that having CD while going to college, “makes life difficult because I can’t just go eat whatever I want whenever I want.”

College is also more difficult for Osborne because he cannot live in the dorms due to his case being so severe that even if his roommate were to eat something with gluten and he were to borrow their plate, even after it’s been washed, he would still get sick.

When he is on campus he enjoys stopping in the cafeteria and eating a nice salad (one of few gluten-free options at USU/CEU). When asked if he could see any item added to the menu in the cafeteria he answered, “gluten-free cake!”

Osborne said that if he had known ahead of time that his gluten-free options at USU/CEU would be so limited, it would not have changed his decision to go to school here. His advice to others diagnosed with Celiac Disease is “It’s ok every once in a while to eat gluten, it’s worth it sometimes.”

To find out more on what USU/CEU is doing to accommodate students with this disease, Becky Archibald, dining services director replied that the USU/CEU cafeteria “offers protein on the salad bar every day, along with a taco bar that is gluten free. We offer crisp corn tacos and Frito corn chips. Along with three choices of meat, rice and beans.” There is currently not a great enough demand for more gluten-free menu options in the cafeteria.

Archibald added, “I am aware of three students and two staff members who have this disease. We have tried to accommodate their dietary need [and] if any student has a medical condition requiring special dietary needs, they need to let dining services know of the need.”

However, hope of a gluten-free menu is not lost. Archibald said, “If the demand increases, we would consider making additional gluten-free menu options.” The downside to this, however, is that gluten-free items cost more to buy than those that are processed normally.

If there would be a difference in price for gluten-free menu options, she replied, “All pricing is determined according to cost. Gluten-free items do cost us more and all menu items would be priced according.”

Let your voice be heard if you think that a gluten-free menu, or any other accommodating menu options, needs to be added to the options in the USU/CEU cafeteria. Also if you think you may have CD, the best way to find out if you have any disease is to get tested. For more information go to www.celiac.org or for some great gluten-free recipes go to www.offthewheatenpath.com.

Filed under: lifestyles

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