Hope all your chagim were great. I hope that you had a meaningful davening and enjoyable family time. You probably had so much food over all the Yamim Tovim, so many meals that were so carefully prepared and enjoyed by all.
Many families might have different allergies or food preferences. Some might be vegetarian or vegan. Others might be lactose intolerant. Here we meet Tova and Shoshana who share with us their eating challenges with something called celiac disease. Let’s read their stories and learn what that is and how they deal with it.
Wishing you a year filled with brachah and health,
Today was a bad day! We had a class siyum with doughnuts. Everyone was so excited to have a special treat, while we just had to sit and watch. Oh, let us introduce ourselves. We are Tova and Shoshana, sisters. We were born with something called celiac disease. It was only discovered when we were two and three.
Celiac is an autoimmune disease that reacts to gluten (wheat). We wanted to write in our diary and explain what this all means, and since we are sisters dealing with the same thing, we decided to do this together.
In a body’s immune system there is something called antibodies. Antibodies are “soldiers” in a human body, which attack germs that enter. But our bodies think that gluten is a bad germ. Therefore it produces antibodies to attack the gluten. When we eat gluten, (what the antibodies think are bad stuff), the antibodies attack our intestines. This can end up being very dangerous. It can cause permanent damage to the body. The only way for us to avoid that happening is by not eating gluten.
You may think celiac is a normal food allergy, but it has much more behind it. Food allergies are when the person’s body is sensitive to a certain food, and it can be grown out of. Celiac disease is a disease that will stay with us for life. It cannot possibly be grown out of.
Celiac is also genetic. When one of us was diagnosed with it, our whole family had to be tested. The physical reaction is a painful stomachache, but the damage inside is terrible. It can stop growth and make us very sick, G-d forbid.
It does sound simple, to simply stay away from anything with wheat, but it is so difficult for us since wheat is a very common ingredient in most people’s lives. We tell our friends to think about what they had for breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks. Most likely pizza, cereal, macaroni, cookies, cake, or something else with wheat. Even some things you’d never think would have wheat have wheat, like licorice, sour sticks, jolly ranchers!
“Are you tempted?” is a very commonly asked question. We always answer no. Everyone must be shocked. The reason is because we got used to this. So, we don’t have a constant desire to eat them.
Sometimes people think that celiac is a dreaded, drastic illness. Yes, it’s scary and hard. But all the wheat-eaters won’t ever understand that we enjoy our gluten-free foods.
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 730)
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