By Erin Thompson, Broadside Correspondent

Hi, my name is Erin Thompson and I am a senior in the George Mason University LIFE Program. I have been eating a gluten-free diet since I was 7 years old.
At the beginning, my parents and I didn’t exactly know what the problem with my health was. I was sick and was losing weight. I went to many doctors, and one told me that I had celiac disease. Celiac is made of oats, barley and rye. The only foods that are safe for me are rice, gluten-free bread, gluten-free English muffins, gluten-free muffins and shrimp.

I can name many foods, but it is easier to supply you with an online gluten-free list: Wegmans’ website also has a helpful list of gluten-free items.

Celiac disease (CD) is a lifelong digestive disorder that affects children and adults. An individual with CD should follow a gluten-free diet to treat the disease.
When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed.

Gluten is the common name for the proteins in specific grains that are harmful to persons with celiac disease. These proteins are found in all forms of wheat and related grains like rye, barley and triticale and must be eliminated.

Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel, even when there are no symptoms present.