My name’s Brian, and as I’m sure you can gather from the site’s name, I’m a Celiac. I live in the East Bay Area of San Francisco, California. This is my story.
My story starts back in when I was in college. At some time between 1999 and 2005, I was told I was lactose intolerant. Now, this wasn’t by a doctor, rather a good close friend. It made sense – eating ice cream with a waffle cone, sandwiches with cheese, yogurt with granola, and many others, set off my GI issues. I cut out dairy, and started feeling marginally better as time went on.
Now, this was a hard thing for me. I grew up in Wisconsin, where milk, cheese, and all things of dairy goodness were in abundance, and a large part of my diet. Growing up, I loved cereal and milk, grilled cheese sandwiches, potatoes au gratin, tuna noodle casserole; the list goes on and on. So, needless to say, I was bummed that I now had to cut all of that out of my life.
Fast forward to 2010/2011. I had embraced my diary free lifestyle, but not fully. I couldn’t resist the occasional slice of cheese, bowl of cereal, ice cream in a waffle cone, or any of the other dairy treats that I loved growing up. However, my GI issues were still around, regardless of whether I ate diary or not in a meal. As I stumbled around, sometimes having GI issues and sometimes not, it started to really hamper my lifestyle. I would go out to eat a restaurant, and it was stressful; a real roll of the die to see if I would have GI issues after the meal, and then the complicated explanation to my dinner mates – family, fiancé, or friends.
Then, in October 2011, another good friend told me about his problems, and how going gluten-free helped. During that conversation, I had a crash course in gluten intolerance and Celiacs Disease. Intrigued by how it helped him, and the similarities in problems and GI issues, on October 8, 2011, I decided to cut gluten out of my diet. I figured it couldn’t hurt.
Over the next weeks, it was difficult navigating the new dietary landscape that I had embarked upon. About three to four weeks later, I woke up one morning, and just felt better. Like I-was-coming-down-with-a-cold-but-it’s-now-going-after-a-good-night’s-rest better. My mind was clear, I wasn’t have issues remembering even the slightest of bits of information, and my GI issues were slowly going away.
I felt like I had come across some food Holy Grail. I started praising a gluten-free diet to everyone I knew. But, I needed to know if it was just gluten intolerance, or full-blown Celiacs. So, I went to my primary care physician. Now, I didn’t have the greatest faith in his understanding of my self-diagnoses or Celiacs disease in general. I had the blood antibodies test done, and it came back negative. So, my doctor told me I was in the clear.
However, my GI issues didn’t go away. I convinced my doctor that I needed more tests and wanted to talk to a gastroenterologist to discuss. The gastroenterologist was more accommodating, and was able to confirm that I might have had a false negative. At this point, since I have been off of gluten for six weeks, we went with the blood gene test. It came back positive for Celiacs, and that was probably the most relieving email from a doctor that I have ever received. While it wasn’t the official stick-a-tube-down-your-throat test, I finally had an answer that I could rely on with a good deal of certainty. Right before Thanksgiving, too.
So, since then, I have tried to navigate this gluten-filled world, trying to find the best gluten-free items that can as close to their gluten-filled as possible. And, as I’ve noticed, San Francisco can offer great gluten-free options. However, I don’t live in San Francisco. I live in the San Francisco East Bay, a good 30 miles from San Francisco. And looking around the East Bay, the gluten-free options are slim to none. Granted, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Miglet’s, Aunti Gluten’s, and others have made a dent, but the gluten-free landscape here in the East Bay is sparse.
So, I decided to start this site. I’m sure I couldn’t be the only one in the East Bay with this navigation problem. Using 2010 U.S. Census numbers, and the 1 in 133 healthy people have Celiac Disease statistic, then 19,242 people in the East Bay have Celiacs. Here’s my plan for the site: not only will you get to hear about my life as a Celiac, but I’ll also be posting restaurant, product, and store reviews.
However, I’m also interested in hearing what you would like on this site as well. For as much as this is for me and learning to be a better Celiac, it is also for the 19,242+ of you in the East Bay that have to have a gluten-free diet as well. Let me know your thoughts, and I’ll work on incorporating them into the site!
Disclaimer: While product, restaurant, and store reviews will be posted on this site, any and all opinions are my own. No outside parties will influence those opinions. Also, I am an engineer by degree, and have had no medical training. Any advice given is also my own opinion, and should be used as such. Always make sure to check with your physician prior to eating anything that may be questionable for you. Any indications of possible reactions are my own, and your mileage may vary. Finally, submitting your email address and other contact information will never be sold to or shared with any third-party, and will only be used by myself to give you updates to this site.