GluteNull Honours Ellen Bayens – Celiac Awareness Month!
Ellen Bayens is the Founder and President of The Celiac Scene™, the go-to gluten-free resource for Victoria, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Referred to as a ‘Remarkable Celiac’ by the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) , Ellen speaks first hand and with infectious humour about the challenges of the diet and how they can become the gateway to good health.
As Past Vice-President of the Victoria Chapter (CCA) and ‘British Columbia’s Gluten-Free Ambassador,’ she has been featured in Gluten Free Living, Allergic Living and Delight Gluten Free magazines. Ellen is a frequent commentator on TV, radio and print as she shares her enthusiasm for gluten-free living with restaurants, retailers and industry experts alike, keen to ‘Get Gluten Free Right.’ Here is Ellen’s “Journey from Diagnosis to Gluten-Free Juggernaut!”
“My story actually begins with the Japanese occupation of Indonesia from 1942-45 when, as a Dutch citizen born in Java, my mother was interned for four years in a prisoner-of-war camp along with my grandmother and uncle. As a POW, she subsisted on a meagre diet of rice and vegetables before finally repatriating to the Netherlands. There she adopted a largely wheat-based diet and instead of regaining weight, she began to lose even more. Her diagnosis with Hashimoto’s disease proffered an explanation, as did her subsequent diagnosis of Diabetes Mellitus Type I. Unfortunately, it would 40 more years before she would be properly diagnosed with Celiac disease. . Like many who struggle for a respite from symptoms, my mother paid a price for continuing to consume for the interim, going on to develop a form of Parkinsonism that robbed her of her mobility and ultimately, the digestive cancer that took her life.
Fast forward to my own diagnosis at the age of 45. Even with a history of Celiac disease in my family, I was unaware that I was pre-disposed to developing it myself. I was a healthy, physically fit mom to two fabulous children. A switch to a new GP and a complete physical revealed that my liver enzymes were alarmingly elevated. The doctor began to ask questions – How much alcohol did I drink? Was I a covert intravenous drug user? Could the protein shakes I consumed daily contain steroids? After enduring two years of interrogations and still in otherwise excellent health, I agreed to undergo a liver biopsy if only to appease my physician. During the procedure, and despite being guided by ultra-sound technology, the specialist inadvertently perforated my liver and retrieved cells from my small intestine. They revealed the classic presentation of Celiac disease. Subsequent blood testing confirmed that I had the antibodies associated with this chronic auto-immune condition.
Not only did I have a diagnosis, I knew from caring for my mother exactly how to effect a complete and permanent recovery. The gluten-free diet! My children and siblings undertook – and passed – the pre-screening blood tests recommended to family members of diagnosed celiacs. They are in great health today but should they develop any of the more than 200 symptoms associated with celiac disease, or one or more of the autoimmune disorders that are known to co-occur with it, they need only mention their family’s medical history in order to be tested again.
In the 13 years since my diagnosis, I have parlayed my passion into empowering anyone who wants or needs to go gluten free – with the information that exists within the celiac community. Instead of looking back, I encourage others to look forward to renewed health and a second chance to enjoy a great life – the gluten-free way!”
For the very best information on Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and their ‘sister’ disease Dermatitis herpetiformis, I highly recommend http://www.glutenfreediet.ca by Shelley Case RD, ‘North America’s Gluten-Free Nutrition Expert’ as well as the excellent information made available at https://www.gluten.org/resources/getting-started.
See more at: http://glutenull.com/ellenbayens