Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Her Health Battle: Celiac & Hypothyroidism

by Mary Ellen Bianco

Imagine receiving a medical diagnosis that calls for completely changing your diet and lifestyle. Pattie Moore was diagnosed with Celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disorder, in 2007. Here's her story and what she has found to help her along the way, including some great food...

On the advice of her doctor, she immediately began to cut gluten out of her diet. Gluten is a form of protein in wheat, rye, and barley. People with Celiac disease are unable to digest the protein and the villi, small projections from the small intestinal wall, are affected. “I had anemia and a vitamin D deficiency, which was caused by lack of absorption of nutrients and iron,” Pattie says.

Two years earlier, Pattie’s daughter Andie had been diagnosed with Celiac disease. “I really should have been tested after Andie found out,” Pattie says. When she and her husband, Jeff, moved from Louisville to Washington, D.C., in 2007, she tried the South Beach Diet for two months to lose a few pounds. “I started feeling sick when I ate carbohydrates and pasta again,” she recalls. Within 30 minutes, she would have a stomachache and feel fatigued and nauseated. “It was almost flu-like symptoms that lasted for a couple of hours,” Pattie says. “I would have to lie down.”

She kept losing weight — 25 pounds — as the symptoms got worse. “I was eating fat and carbs like crazy to gain weight, including Cinnabons, which made me sicker,” Pattie says. “With Celiac disease, fat sometimes isn’t absorbed, so that’s why I kept losing weight.” Pattie’s gynecologist ordered blood work to check for an overactive thyroid. “I actually have hypothyroidism, which is an underactive thyroid, and I should have been gaining weight.” She was referred to a gastroenterologist who ordered an upper endoscopy to look at her stomach and esophagus and to take a biopsy of her small intestine.

“I never saw a dietician, and I had to research on my own,” Pattie says. “I had been watching the Dr. Oz Show to help Andie, and I learned a lot from him because he is always up on things.” She also joined an online Celiac support group.

“My poor husband Jeff had to go gluten-free with me,” Pattie says. She read every label and learned about hidden gluten under names such as starch, dextrin, or malt extract/flavoring. She stopped using products such as soy and other sauces; beer; bouillons and gravies; and pre-seasoned meats. Through trial and error, she learned what to avoid. “Dining out can be a challenge,” Pattie says. “I used to order only salads with balsamic vinegar dressing, but it’s getting so much easier.”

She and Jeff moved back to Louisville in 2012. She’s now a nutrient specialist at the Institute of Anti-Aging Medicine (IAAM).

“I take vitamin B12, probiotics, digestive enzymes and magnesium,” Pattie says. “Fortunately, I no longer feel like I have to take a nap every afternoon.”

She’s monitored regularly by her gastroenterologist, and she also has blood work to check her thyroid levels. “I had an easier time getting my thyroid under control,” Pattie says. “I wasn’t as tired within a month of starting medication.” She takes Synthroid every morning an hour before breakfast. It’s a synthetic hormone that replaces thyroxine, which is made by the thyroid gland.

Pattie has found some good sources for gluten-free foods: She says the brownie mix she finds at Williams-Sonoma is the best brownie mix. She also recommends the crackers and bread shown above that she finds at Costco.

It’s a continuous challenge for Pattie to control the Celiac disease. A small intestine biopsy last year indicated that she still had gluten in her system. Although there are more gluten-free foods available today, she feels they contain too much sugar. She says it’s tough to find food while traveling, especially in airports. “People in some big cities like Seattle are more conscious of what they eat, so I find more choices,” Pattie says. It can be awkward to have dinner at a friend’s house, since Pattie doesn’t want to draw attention to herself. “A lot of people really don’t understand what gluten is,” she says. “I politely avoid foods that will make me sick.”

If you have found some great sources of gluten-free foods, share through the comments.

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