Celiac Disease & Type 1 Diabetes – guest post –

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In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, I have invited guest blogger Wendy Rose from Candy Hearts Blog to share with us more information on Juvenile Diabetes and the connection between it and Celiac Disease.

Wendy's family's story is touching and informative – I hope you will share this posting with anyone else struggling with Juvenile Diabetes. (To read more about Wendy scroll to the end of this posting.)

Thanks, Wendy, for sharing!

Beyond The Label

I spend a considerable amount of time reading food labels. Whenever I pick up a product, I find myself saying a subconscious prayer that I'll turn it over to find an obvious answer as to whether it is gluten-free.

I like things cut and dried like that, you know?

My oldest daughter (7 years) and I were both diagnosed with celiac disease within the past 2 years. Like many of you, I take advantage of every opportunity to educate others about what gluten is, where it's found, and the differences between celiac disease and an allergy.

Yes, I read labels…all the time…because there's another part of the label to which I pay special attention as well: the number of grams of carbohydrates per serving.

You see, previous to celiac, that daughter I mentioned earlier received a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in July 2005, at the age of 24 months. According to this article, it is estimated that about 10% of the type 1 population will also develop celiac:

Celiac disease and anti–tissue transglutaminase antibodies occur more frequently in patients with type 1 diabetes than in the general population, depending on the age of the patient; at most, 10% of children and 2% of adults with type 1 diabetes have positive tests for such antibodies. An increasing incidence of celiac disease during recent decades has also been reported. It has been suggested that gluten consumption, along with gut permeability and inflammation, are factors in the development of type 1 diabetes. These results suggest that type 1 diabetes and celiac disease may share some causative genetic and environmental factors (New England Journal of Medicine, 2008).

Over the past 5 years, I've not only learned about the product labels found in the pantry, but also the labels associated with a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes…

LABEL: Diabetes is diabetes and it's all the same.
TRUTH: There are several types of diabetes, the most common being type 2, followed behind by type 1. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the insulin producing cells of the pancreas stop producing insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic condition which does not completely inhibit the body's ability to produce insulin, but instead limits the body's ability to effectively use the insulin it produces.

LABEL: Type 1 diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar and other poor lifestyle choices. Besides, since we don't have diabetes in our family, I don't have to worry about it happening to my child.
TRUTH: No one knows what causes type 1 diabetes. It is NOT caused by poor diet or lack of exercise. A common theory is that a virus, such as a stomach bug or a simple cold, causes the autoimmune reaction that results in type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes rarely has a genetic link. No child is immune to the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.

Taken from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's website, here are the symptoms of type 1 diabetes:

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes (these may occur suddenly):

Extreme thirst
Frequent urination
Sudden vision changes
Sugar in urine
Fruity, sweet, or wine-like odor on breath § Increased appetite
Sudden weight loss
Drowsiness, lethargy
Heavy, labored breathing
Stupor, unconsciousness

LABEL: People with type 1 diabetes cannot eat sugar.
TRUTH: People with type 1 diabetes CAN eat sugar! It is necessary that insulin be given whenever a person with type 1 diabetes consumes carbohydrates in any form. If a person with type 1 diabetes eats an apple, a sandwich, or drinks a glass of milk, it is equally necessary that insulin be administered for those food choices as well.

LABEL: Since type 1 diabetes and "juvenile diabetes" are the same thing, it must mean a child can grow out of it.
TRUTH: Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong endocrine disorder that cannot be outgrown. It is most commonly diagnosed in children and teenagers, but can also be diagnosed during adulthood (usually under age 40). Children with type 1 diabetes grow up to become adults with type 1 diabetes.

LABEL: A blood sugar of 300 means your diabetes is "uncontrolled.”
TRUTH: A blood sugar of 300 happens! My daughter's target blood sugar range is 90 – 140. The range for a person without diabetes is about 80 – 120. By the very nature of having type 1 diabetes, it means that blood sugars can (and will) spike to high levels every now and then. Many variables affect blood sugar readings including stress, illness, and growth. It is impossible to control all of the variables; therefore it is impossible to "control" diabetes. Diabetes of all types is a MANAGED condition. It is never controlled.

LABEL: Taking insulin means your diabetes is "bad.”
TRUTH: Insulin is the ONLY treatment available for Type 1 Diabetes. That being said, insulin is NOT a cure. Without insulin, people with Type 1 Diabetes will DIE. Insulin can only be administered via injection, either through a syringe or an insulin pump.

My daughter has her fingers poked 8 – 10 times a day to monitor her blood sugar levels. For the first 18 months following her diagnosis, she received 4 – 6 insulin shots a day. Currently she wears an insulin pump 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Type 1 diabetes never takes a day off. All of this amounts to approximately 25,000 finger pokes, 3,000 shots, and 500 insulin pump site changes.

That's a lot of needle pokes for one little girl.

November 14th was World Diabetes Day. The global symbol for diabetes is the blue circle. As a way to honor our daughter's journey with type 1 diabetes, we decided to celebrate her life with some gluten-free sugar cookies! Check out the photos and the delicious recipe!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. You can read our celiac and her type 1 diabetes diagnosis stories on CandyHeartsBlog.com. Feel free to stop by anytime!

Smyth D, Plagnol V, Walker N, et al. Shared and distinct genetic variants in type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. The New England Journal Of Medicine [serial online]. December 25, 2008;359(26):2767-2777. Available from: MEDLINE with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 10, 2010.

Wendy Rose has been a Registered Nurse for 16 years. After spending most of her career at the bedside in the Emergency Room, the Post Anesthesia Care Unit, and Labor & Delivery, she currently works from home as a Pediatric Telephone Triage Nurse.

Wendy’s oldest daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2005, at the age of 24 months and Celiac Disease in 2008, at the age of 5 years. Wendy herself was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2009. Balancing the demands of her daughter’s blood sugar management while maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle; on top of her role as wife and mother; in addition to maintaining her nursing career can be a challenge at times. She documents her family’s journey at www.CandyHeartsBlog.com.

Wendy and her husband, Jason, have been married for 10 years. They have three daughters, ages 7, 4 and 3. Wendy also has a 13 year old step-daughter who does not live in their area, but visits once a year. The family resides in the Sonoran Desert with their rescue dog, Ivy.

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23 thoughts on “Celiac Disease & Type 1 Diabetes – guest post –

  1. If you stumble onto a post with loads of sensible tips it is a privilage to be able to congratulate the author. I have learnt some valuable data from your postings. Keep writing. Regards

      • Thank you for sharing. My daughter was diagnosed with Type I DM in 1993. She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease about 5 years later. They thought it was IBS at first. Because the of the tendency for a person with an autoimmune disorder to get other autoimmune disorders, she now has additional diagnoses of lupus, fibromyalgia, sjogren’s disease, polycystic ovarian disease along with insomnia, depression and diabetic retinopathy. She has been diabetic for 18 years and there is NO CONTROL but management each day every day. A challege beyond words.Thank you for sharing. It is good to know we are not alone.

  2. Thanks for using Wendy’s post. It is so much easier to help those around you deal with these diseases when you understand them.

  3. Great post!! I too have Type 1 diabetes (I was dx at 12 years old, in 1982), and was dx with Celiac Disease in 2007 AND Lupus as well (just dx in July)… Some days, it’s DAUNTING cause between the 3 good days are getting fewer (something is always flaring)… But this post is great and brings such awareness to an increasing problem…

  4. Great info, Wendy! You did a wonderful job covering everything on Type 1. Very informative for people who want to learn more.

    Thank you SO much for telling me about this flour when you did. We tried so many others before that were just so-so but we LOVE this one!

    Lots of love!!!!

  5. Wonderful post! As the parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes, I am very aware of the possibility that a celiac diagnosis may be in our future. It is something that we test for each year. If that diagnosis should come, I feel so muchore prepared knowing of products and blogs like this one! Thank you!!

  6. What a fabulous post..thank you Wendy! You did a beautiful job dispelling some of the common myths about type 1 diabetes. Even though there is no celiac disease in our household we love to cook gluten free whenever we can. I am looking forward to doing some baking with Jules GF flour! Those blue circle cookies look yummy!!

  7. What a wonderful post and what a wonderful blog!! Thank you so much for taking the time to shed some light on type 1 diabetes especially in November for diabetes awareness.

    Wendy I just love the label idea…great post!!

  8. Thank you Wendy for educating and spreading awareness about Type 1. I love the way you disseminated the information on this post.

    I LOVE you girl!!!

  9. What a great guest post! The labels are hard to deal with on every level – thank you Wendy for clearing things up and educating others.

  10. Thank you for recognizing Diabetes Awareness Month and for giving Wendy the opportunity to educate others about type 1 diabetes.

    I, too, have a seven-year-old child with type 1 diabetes, and I appreciate you helping to raise awareness and dispell myths about this disease.

  11. I know your products are a blessing to many lives in the Type 1 community! There are so many families that deal both with Type 1 Diabetes and celiac. Thank you Jules Gluten Free for inviting Wendy to tell our story!

  12. As the mother of a type 1 child myself I am constantly on the look-out for any and all auto-immune problems that may crop up in my type 1 child AND in his sister. Celiac is one that is always in the front of my thoughts because I know several other children who share type 1 and celiac (including Wendy’s daughter). Thank you for taking this opportunity to spread awareness of both celiac and type 1 diabetes!

  13. Great post! Thank you for sharing the guest post by Wendy. Since knowing her, I have learned so much about celiac disease and what she has to go through to eat GF. She has helped me a ton while I had my daughter GF for a while.

    We are no longer doing the GF diet for my little one, but still love finding new GF things we can share at group gatherings.

    And Wendy is always raving about Jules GF flour. :-)

    Thanks again for helping spread awareness not only about celiac disease, but now also about T1 Diabetes.

  14. Wendy, Thank you for introducing me to this fantastic blog! Thanks for spreading awareness about Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease….loved the “Truth behind your Labels”!

  15. Thank you for helping to share awareness about something so close to my Candy Heart!

    I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE your flour…it has absolutely revolutionized our Celiac journey!!!

    (Kind of like my daughter’s insulin pump revolutionized our journey with Type 1 Diabetes.)

    Thank you for all you do to advocate and support the gluten-free community. You (and your flour!) have been a HUGE blessing in my life and I’m honored to have had the opportunity to guest post today!