My name is Susan Bell. Aside from being a cookbook author, I am also a busy mom. The idea to write a cookbook came to me when I, after being diagnosed with celiac disease, was wondering what I could eat. That prompted me to search for recipes that could be celiac-friendly.
My mom was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1996. I remember thinking, “How terrible! I hope I never get that!”
In 2003, my sister found out that celiac disease is a genetic disease and tested positively. Our own tests followed, because I was wondering whether I or any of my six children also had the disease.
We found out that three of eight in our family have the gene for celiac disease. We did our testing through Enterolab. We also had blood tests done, but found them to be inaccurate, since the blood tests showed proteins in the blood for all eight in our family, even those who don’t have celiac disease. For this reason, five members of the family were on a gluten-free diet for two years until they were properly diagnosed.
We later found out that 30% of the population have the gene for celiac disease and do not manifest it at all. One of our sons didn’t get sick when he accidentally ingested gluten. We decided that we should let our son try gluten-containing food again, if he felt good about it. After about a week, he decided to eat wheat and has been doing great. We still plan to follow up with an upper g.i. to make sure he doesn’t have hidden symptoms and to find out whether his villi are flat or healthy.
I wrote a cookbook because of the need for recipes that taste great! My sister and I started a support group for our area, and we have treasured the friendships we have gained and the opportunity to learn from others about how they deal with celiac disease. This experience has been invaluable. Having celiac disease and being aware of it has changed my life, but it also helped me develop into the person I am now.
How is our lifestyle different from those who still eat wheat? Our day-to-day life nearly always includes: reading labels, extra baking, converting new recipes, no envelope licking, candy to my daughter to make up for the treats she can’t have, hope that a cure will be found, and the joy of feeling well.