Back in 2003, when I was diagnosed, nobody seemed to know anything much about the connection between Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. Or at least it wasn't mainstream, certainly not for my doctors at the time. Celiac is of course and intolerance to gluten, a composite of proteins contained in wheat, rye and barley. Having it therefore means eating no foods that contain those grains. Picture that!
But my point was that suddenly, I seem to see the topic of diabetes & celiac popping up all over. I was amazed to find an article in this month's edition of Diabetes Forecast, called "A Tricky Diagnosis: Why You Should Learn About Celiac Disease" that explains the classic and atypical versions of this disorder:
* Classic = nasty gastrointestinal (GI) problems when you eat gluten
* Atypical = mild or no GI symptoms, but a skin rash (dermatitis herpatiformis - yikes) that can appear on your face, elbows, knees or tush
The article notes that the latter may in fact be the more common presentation. And they cleverly note: "Because grains find their way into all kinds of products, always read labels on foods, over-the-counter medicines, and supplements. Ask your doctor about the ingredients in prescribed medicines."
Well yes, I had to learn all of this the hard way. Like when we stopped at the drug store for some allergy pills, and later my lip swelled up like a ubangi. That was a nice look at Disneyland, I'll tell you.
If you are in this boat, see this nice new Boston Globe piece about how to find gluten-free products. If you're in Europe, it might cheer you to know that a new 2,230-meter factory has just been opened in Wales to pump out gluten-free goods. In Seattle, "Gluten-Free Girl" Shauna James is doing great things with rice and corn pastas. Personally, I prefer Quinoa. It's not so heavy and dry. But if you happen to have diabetes as well as celiac, you will REALLY want to watch the pasta, anyway; it's carb-noxious.
Here's a list of research on the connection between celiac and diabetes, including one study indicating that the disorder was discovered in 12.3% of children with Type 1 diabetes. New research on "the double life of proteins" may help scientists understand this all better.
Meanwhile, you are not alone. Mark your calendar for May 28, when DiabetesTalkFest will be hosting a chat with Catherine Oddenino, editor of "A Gluten-Free Guide." This woman knows what she's talking about, because she's not only an expert in gluten-free gourmet, but she also manages her Type 1 diabetes with an insulin pump.