Learning to live gluten freeAli Jangula, 17, a junior at Dickinson High School, watches her diet for anything that contains gluten. “I have juice, a pumpkin chip muffin and yogurt in the morning,” she said. “I never eat school lunches. I take my own lunch.”
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Ali Jangula, 17, a junior at Dickinson High School, watches her diet for anything that contains gluten.
“I have juice, a pumpkin chip muffin and yogurt in the morning,” she said. “I never eat school lunches. I take my own lunch.”
If she were to eat anything with gluten — contained in wheat, barley and rye — she will become ill.
“Even the smallest little bite, and I will usually get a headache. I’m never tempted, knowing that I want to feel good,” she said.
Ali is living with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition — a genetic intolerance to gluten.
Symptoms of celiac disease are fatigue, gastrointestinal distress (gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation), headaches, inability to concentrate, joint pain and muscle aches.
She started noticing the symptoms in the second grade.
“I always had an upset stomach. I didn’t grow for a while and I was really moody I remember,” she said.
While the tests were inconclusive, Ali learned her grandmother had similar symptoms.
“Once I changed my diet, I immediately felt a difference,” she said.
Ali also reacts to milk products.
“Once I was on a gluten-free diet, I gradually put in more and more milk,” she said.
Ali’s mother, Pam Jangula, has learned to prepare meals that are gluten free.
She recently met Danielle Evans at the Colors of Health store in Dickinson. She too, was looking for gluten-free products.
Having common interests, the women have initiated a Gluten-free and Allergy Support Group. The next meeting is 7 p.m. on Monday in the Dickinson West River Community Center conference room. Twisted Bakery will serve samples of their gluten-free products. Members will share information on gluten-free products and recipes. One member also will talk about the gluten that is placed in cosmetics.
The group is for anyone who has an interest in a gluten-free diet or has food allergies.
“You can meet so many nice people to share information,” said Pam.
“For a lot of people, it’s a big transition,” added Danielle.
Pam said there is power in numbers. For example, a group of people may request that stores stock additional gluten-free products.
Danielle’s interest in gluten-free foods is associated with her son, Benny Evans, a fourth-grader at Jefferson Elementary.
Benny had been taking medication for anxiety associated with Asperger’s Syndrome. Taking the lead from nutritional experts, Danielle removed gluten from his diet.
“It’s the same for him. He immediately notices when he has had gluten in his diet,” said Danielle.
Even with a very small amount, he can’t focus, the anxiety returns and he has trouble with school work, she said.
By living gluten free, Danielle said, “He’s completely different child. He’s off medications and doing phenomenally well.”
The women have learned to read food labels on everything. They’ve learned gluten is used as a thickener and can even be found in products such as tomato soup and mushroom soup.
They also are finding companies who offer gluten-free products such as pasta, rice, flour, cereals and even frozen dinners.
Danielle prepares gluten-free meals for the entire family.
“Nobody has complained for the most part. We’ve made the adjustment pretty easy,” she said.
The downside, however, is that gluten-free products tend to be more expensive, she said.
Over the years, the women have acquired various resources — books, Web sites and personal experiences — that they wish to share with others through the support group. For more information, call Pam at 701-590-2433.
Pam shares Ali’s favorite recipe for Pumpkin Chip Muffins. It reads as follows:
Pumpkin Chip Muffins
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cups Tom Sawyer Gluten Free flour blend (If using a different gluten-free flour blend, add 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum)
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips
Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together. Beat eggs, oil, pumpkin and sugar until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean. Let stand in tins for 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.