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Celiac Awareness Month Guest Blog with Whitness Nutrition

About out guest: 

Whitney Stuart is a registered dietitian-nutritionist, board-certified Diabetic Educator and award-winning Whole30 Advanced Level Certified Coach. Whitney’s nutritional expertise has been featured in media segments for ABC, NBC & Business Insider. She has served as a media spokesperson for TV stations, restaurants and food brands. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and has been Voted Dallas #1 Dietitian since 2019. Her virtual practice, Whitness Nutrition, focuses on nutrition educational and empowerment with an emphasis on real food for real joy. Learn more at whitnessnutrition.com  

But, aside for her career, Whitney has followed a strict gluten-free diet for the last 12 years after a celiac diagnosis her senior year of high school. Today, she’s combined her experience and expertise for strategic swaps and successes for you to master on your own journey! 

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Today, I’m sharing the importance of a gluten-free diet for Celiac Awareness Month! I was diagnosed with Celiac disease 12 years ago, during my spring semester of highschool. No better time to add a new dietary regimen into your life than during college admission season! I was been sick with what we thought was Mononucleosis, but 3 months later, my mom pressed for answers after I proceeded to have ongoing fatigue, swelling and brain fog. As a child who never napped and was enrolled in every extra-curricular possible, I was suddenly requiring two naps a day. The diagnosis took over a year to receive and by that point was an answer to our prayers. Within a month, many of my symptoms improved with the cessation of a glutinous diet. But there are some pitfalls I had along the way that have made me wiser; I hope you’ll learn from them! Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom for a delicious recipe we use for holiday entertaining (fun fact:I married into a family with Celiacs, too!) 

What is gluten? 

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. A gluten free diet is the only current treatment for Celiac diagnosis. These ingredients must be completely removed from the diet. 

What is Celiac?

First of all, this isn’t a food allergy, but a genetic autoimmune disease. It’s prevalent within 1% of the American population. But, ironically, I actually see it more often in practice because 6% of Type 1 diabetics also have Celiac. 

But, why do I need to avoid gluten? 

Gluten avoidance is imperative to prevent harm to the  immune system. In Celiac patients, gluten causes damage to the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients. The body, in effect, attacks itself when a person with celiac consumes gluten. These stressful events, left untreated, can lead to additional serious health problems: cancer, osteoporosis, anemia, chronic inflammation of the intestine, malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and various neurological conditions.

Wheat vs Gluten

Wheat-free products only solve half of the equation. Or, technically, a third of it. Although I see less of these on the market these days, it would be possible for these products to still contain barley and rye, the other glutinous ingredients. Celiacs need to avoid ALL gluten, not just wheat. For more severe cases, it is imperative to consider cross-contamination. Was this facility used to make products that contain gluten?? Did this cutting board, food line, or cooking pan contain a gluten-filled breading? The best way to avoid gluten through cross-contamination is to only choose items that are certified glutenfree. 

Ingredients matter

  • Most products that are gluten-free will be labeled as certified Gluten free. But, we can’t always count on this! This is where ingredient sleuthing comes into play! 
  • Gluten is almost never listed in the ingredients list as “gluten”, and although products should say “contains wheat” or “contains gluten” in the bold allergen statement, it doesn’t always. Look for the following: 
      • Barley/Malt, Semolina, Durham, and Spelt
      • Bread Crumbs
      • Wheat Fillers - often seen in Lunch Meat
      • Wheat or white flour, whole grain bread
      • Wheat gluten as a filler, binder or flavor additive
      • Malt extract, textured vegetable protein, starch
      • Soy sauce

Naturally gluten-free 

With an initial diagnosis it can be hard to remember that there are still plenty of foods that never had gluten in the first place and still remain safe for consumption! These naturally gluten-free foods chock-full of nutrients you can always pull from!

    • Quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, sorghum 
    • Flours such as almond, coconut, or white/brown rice based
    • Certified gluten-free oats and oat products (like Meli’s!)
    • Tapioca, corn, and potato starch 
    • Don’t forget about fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat and dairy products, fish & fresh herbs

 

Gluten signs and symptoms

Abdominal pain and bloating, constipation, diarrhea after eating, nausea, skin-problems, brain-fog and headaches are all physical symptoms of a gluten sensitivity. Ever had a combination of these physical symptoms? Consult with your doctor for a blood test to rule out Celiac. An endoscopy may be recommended to ensure there isn’t damage to your intestinal gut lining. More questions? Schedule our gluten free guru appointment where we talk through helpful tips, tricks and swaps! 

 

Why a dietitian loves Meli’s

  • Healthful plant-based fat source from nut butter 
  • Healthful fat inclusion (see our choices, below!)
  • Whole grains & fiber from oats
  • Certified gluten-free
  • Their Cashewlicous and Oatey Raisin varieties are dairy-free and vegan friendly 
  • They are available in thousands of retailers nationwide 

Today’s Skillet Cookie recipe includes Meli’s Cashewlicious Mix! 

Ingredients: 

  • Meli’s Cashewlicious Mix
  • 1 TB Ghee or Avocado Oil 
  • 1 egg 
  • ½ cup nut butter 
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    Directions: 

    • Preheat oven 325 degrees
    • In a 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet, melt ghee or 1TB avocado oil over medium heat stirring often, until it starts to bubble and is completely melted. Turn heat off. 
    • Prepare cookie mix as directed - you can use ANY of the mixes!
    • press dough into a cast iron skillet
    • Bake for 26 - 33 or until the edges are lightly golden brown. *The inside will still be slightly gooey and that's the way it's meant to be. If the edges get too brown, Place some foil over the edges. The smaller the pan, the thicker the dough which means a longer cooking time.
    • Eat warm with a spoon, straight out of the skillet!