Gluten-free options and living with Celiac Disease in Central Illinois


About one out of every 133 Americans have Celiac Disease, an autoimmune digestive disease. When with this disease eat gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and flours, it damages parts of the small intestine so they can't absorb nutrients. Get diagnosed with Celiac Disease and people can cross off foods like pasta, cereal and baked goods from their grocery list, unless they find a place that offers gluten-free options.

Sammantha Barrera's trips to the grocery store have changed in the past year since she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

"A lot of things you can't eat that I'm accustomed to eating," she said.

Barrera used to love eating food like Lucky Charms cereal.

"It's really hard especially having a family that doesn't go through this either, so I'm having to cook things that I would normally eat and I can't eat them," Barrera explained.

Now unless the label reads gluten-free, Barrera can't eat it. She knew something was wrong when her system couldn't stomach gluten anymore.

"The terrible stomach pains, sometimes nausea and vomiting," she described. "It felt like I was coming down with a horrible virus."

That sometimes landed her in the emergency room. She now travels as far as Chicago or shops online to find the foods she can eat.

In Mt. Zion Good Naber Specialty Foods LLC is completely gluten-free. The owner said it's the only all gluten-free store that people can step inside within at least 100 miles.

"There's no looking at ingredients," said Owner Diana Janowiac "It doesn't come through my door unless it's gluten-free."

Janowiac brought in unique products from all over the world.

"I get stuff from a bakery in Utah, new grains bakery, which the muffins and the dinner rolls fly out the door," she said. "They're just wonderful."

She opened the store about four years ago after her son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The goal is to help people like Barrera save time and money as they accommodate they're gluten-free needs.

If Celiac Disease is left untreated, there can be serious consequences like the development of autoimmune diseases, thyroid disease or even cancer.

Other stores with gluten-free options:
Heartland Health Foods: 1301 W. Evergreen Ave., Effingham

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