Today, May 27, National Celiac Day is celebrated and from Baïa Food Co. we want to bring you closer to a reality that more than half a million people live in Spain.
What is it?
Celiac disease is a food intolerance to gluten. One of the main drawbacks for these people is the prohibition of eating foods containing gluten for the rest of their lives. For example pasta, bread, cereals and beer. And even many others that do not contain it originally, but to which it has been added during processing. For example rice, sauces, nuts and cold cuts. If you eat any of these products, the gluten present in the food damages the lining of the small intestine, which in turn makes it impossible for the body to properly digest and absorb the food . This situation in the long run leads to chronic malnutrition, with deficiencies in calories and essential nutrients.
Another of the main drawbacks of celiac disease is that gluten-free products are more expensive than conventional ones, and are not easily found. This is due to the extra cost of its production, but it does not make much sense to pass it on to the final consumer with higher prices.
What do we demand?
On the one hand, more information about this food intolerance to be able to understand what these people experience on a daily basis. We have to empathize with them to understand their situation. On the other hand, greater commitment on the part of the food and hospitality industry to offer more and better gluten-free products, and so that the consumer is informed of the dishes that contain it in a restaurant. Finally, more public aid to put an end to the price difference that exists today and which means that celiacs end up paying 30% more when making their purchase.
For this reason, we met with our friend Elena Bau who tells us how, through her experience, she has been improving and learning to know her body until she is fully adapted to the intolerances she suffers from. From here we thank you for your collaboration and express that you are a great example for all of us.
When do you realize that you are celiac? Because? How do they diagnose it? What is the first thing that comes to mind when they tell you?
Elena: I can't remember myself without a stomach ache. In fact, I thought it was normal and that, like me, everyone hurt after eating. I have been to many doctors over many years and I guess at some point I threw in the towel, stopped looking for an explanation and decided to live with that pain. In recent years with stress, my pain had worsened and after going back and forth several times for the odd consultation I found a doctor, Dr. Vigaray and I think I have never done anything better in my life! A year has passed since then and although it took a long time to reach my diagnosis because I had other things (fructose intolerance, anisakis, histamine, helicobacter pylori, bacterial overgrowth...), I can finally say, a year later that I am no longer I practically have discomfort after meals. When I found out that I couldn't eat gluten, I had already been diagnosed with fructose intolerance and although being celiac, or having any other problem that restricts your eating, is complicated to manage, my lesser evil was gluten. We have a culture that revolves around eating, drinking, being with your people having a beer, a wine. Not being able to choose is difficult, especially when you know it is for life. I think that society has made a lot of progress in terms of trying to raise awareness about celiacs, but there is still a lot to do. Not only with this but with many other intolerances. And when I say raise awareness, I'm not saying that when you go to a restaurant, the menu indicates which dishes have gluten. I'm talking about empathy, I'm talking about trying to understand what it means when a person goes to dinner, a party or a wine in their free time and at some point is suffering or thinking that maybe they can't eat anything. Who prefers not to say anything so as not to bother others, who does not want to condition. I think that's where a big part of the work lies, because every day there are more people with eating restrictions and it can happen to anyone. In my case, fructose makes it much more complicated for me, it doesn't even appear on restaurant menus...
What changes should you make in your daily life to adapt to this new situation? Adapting to changes is always difficult, how did you face this initial stage?
Elena: Bad, they told me in about a month that I couldn't eat gluten or fructose and that's practically EVERYTHING, neither wheat, nor any legumes, nor almost any fruit or vegetables...what doesn't have gluten, has fructose and the Inversely...and well in my case, what does not have gluten or fructose often has histamine, so imagine! I can't choose anymore, I never eat what I want in a restaurant, I eat what I can. It has affected my mood quite a bit, I have a hard time when I affect the people around me and I often get overwhelmed because I go around and I may not be able to eat anything. I only eat what I want at home, adapting everything to my restrictions of course. The people around you, many times and of course always with good intentions, tell you things like, for once nothing is going to happen to you, and the problem is not once, it is that you would skip it every day and it cannot be . The consequences on your intestine if you don't take care of it when you are celiac, fructose intolerant or something else go far beyond a stomach ache. I have had to go to a psychologist specialized in this type of pathology to learn to live with my new situation and to help me manage it by making people around me understand how I feel. The people who love you do the best they can and many times the problem lies not with them but with you. It puts a very bad mood not being able to eat, or at least for me who loved to eat.
Once located, what are the tricks that you use in your daily life to eat? How do brands like Baïa Food Co. help you to continue enjoying yourself while feeling good?
Elena: My diet change was drastic, I stopped eating sugars for fructose and in a few months I started to feel terrible. I ate healthy but it was not balanced, my body needed nutrients and although I took great care of myself, I ate little fruit and vegetables. It is not easy to know what to eat, you can eat healthy but it does not mean that you eat enough nutrients. I have incorporated carbohydrates daily into my diet (I never did it for fear of gaining weight) and today I continue looking for the balance between feeling strong and being able to do sports.
In my house it has never been customary to eat refined sugars but as a result of all this I had to start reading all the labels and I began to realize how much refined sugar we eat. A very basic example, a person who eats vegetables in a jar may think that they are eating healthy because they are eating vegetables, but if the ingredients in that jar contain sugar or other preservatives with sugars, it is no longer so healthy. And this is not the user's fault, but the information's fault. We are not informed about how bad sugar is, nor foods with a list of a thousand ingredients! The industry is aimed at consumption, the life we lead directs us to eat quickly, not chew, and buy pre-cooked things to be able to do thousands of other tasks. Do we prefer to give children pastries before teaching them to eat fruit because it takes longer for them to eat it? And this, I say again, is not our fault. We are going where they are taking us and the time has come to stop and ask ourselves questions. About all the intolerances that exist and increase every day and many other diseases. Each person does the best they know and can. Companies like Baïa Food Co. They help us by promoting healthy eating and conveying to us the importance of having a critical spirit when it comes to knowing what we put in our body.
Do you believe, like us, that there is still a lot of work to be done regarding celiacs and their diet?
Elena: A lot, I think there is a lot of work left to do to raise awareness that we really are what we eat. An example, processed products for celiacs do not contain gluten, but many do contain sugars to counteract this deficiency, and it is not that processed gluten-free products are worse than those processed with gluten. We shouldn't eat pastries with or without gluten! Because you are celiac there is no reason to eat pastries, that is not the only option. But it is not for those who are not celiac either.
What would you say to someone who has discomfort and does not know if they have some type of food intolerance? And to someone who has been diagnosed with celiac disease?
Elena: It's not normal for me to have discomfort and not let it go. You have to lose your fear of going to the doctor.