It is a little known fact that gluten sensitivity and undiagnosed Celiac disease can create havoc with fertility and pregnancy, although recognised by the medical community universally, it’s still often unknown by many people experiencing fertility issues.
In some cases people experiencing unexplained fertility issues such as conceiving, miscarriage (in some cases recurrent) and still birth may be doing so because of an intolerance to gluten or undiagnosed Celiac disease.
Of course you don’t need to be remotely interested in baby making to enjoy this divine grain and gluten-free, laid back brunch of baked egg, roasted swiss chard and butternut squash, mixed seeds and feta cheese. Which also makes a great light lunch or dinner.
Nutritionally the eggs, seeds, greens and fresh vegetables in this dish are great providers of vitamins and nutrients that can help sustain a healthy re-productive system.
After diagnosis many people previously unaware that they are gluten sensitive or Celiac remove gluten from their diet and go on to have children naturally .
One such amazing story is that of Kelly LeDonni, Founder of GlutenFreeLabels.com. I caught up with Kelly to discuss her life changing experience.
Hi Kelly, welcome to tabitha’s gluten-free dishes, thank you for dropping by to share your story.
You describe your diagnosis as power and your journey as one of positive transformation, enormous healing and many blessings. How did this transformational journey start?
Shortly after my husband and I married in 2005 we set out to start a family. Unfortunately, this wasn’t going as planned. Two miscarriages left us devastated.
To find refuge from stress, I turned to gardening. It was during this time that I coincidentally met a woman named Linda. In this random (or perhaps not-so-random) meeting, Linda shared some life-changing information.
Linda, too, had multiple miscarriages. In her medical work-ups nothing suggested the cause for her inability to carry a child to term. In her 40s, on her own, Linda decided to go on a strict gluten-free diet. After 6 months of avoiding gluten, Linda conceived her only child. She urged me to immediately get tested for Celiac Disease. She warned me not to put it off. Was this a sign from the universe, I wondered?
As a child, I never suffered from stomach problems. Apart from some mild bloating, I experienced only 2-3 stomach aches per year. Nothing about my physical condition screamed Celiac. I didn’t even understand what it was. I even believed IBS and Celiac Disease were the same. I didn’t think I’d be a perfect candidate for Celiac.
After a second miscarriage, it is standard for fertility doctors to conduct a series of tests (genetic and chromosomal) to assess the cause. When I asked my fertility doctor to test me for Celiac, she assured me there was no correlation between gluten sensitivity and infertility. I was hesitant to insist, but my husband was adamant that I be tested. All my blood work was fine, except for one result: I was positive for Celiac Disease.
I was in shock. I saw an Endocrinologist immediately, learned more, and after a stomach biopsy, Celiac was confirmed. I went on a gluten-free diet the next day and the healing began…
I took my diet extremely seriously, with the ultimate goal of getting pregnant. It worked. After 8 months of being gluten-free diet, I was able to get pregnant and stay pregnant via IVF. I gave birth to twin girls.
Seeing how my diet influenced good health, I knew that even a minuscule crumb of gluten could cause cross contamination. For me, this meant violent vomiting 10 minutes (almost to the second) after unintentionally ingesting gluten.
Despite my vigilance and discipline, unintentional cross contamination continued to occur in my own kitchen, especially when visitors, friends, family members prepared food and ate there.
My husband Ben and I faced another complication. Our twins were 30 week preemies and unfortunately, one got Spinal Meningitis at the hospital through a PICC line. She was on a ventilator and breathing tube for over a month; it ultimately scarred her throat. A tracheotomy was recommended until her throat could heal and reconstruction airway surgery could be performed. After 4 1/2 months in the NICU, we returned home with 24/7 nursing assistance. Even foods eaten by the home-care nurse could contaminate my kitchen and make me sick.
Monitoring my kitchen and keeping it gluten-free was not easy. Even though the nurses were very careful eating in our kitchen they used items like our condiments and utensils which accidentally contaminated me. Their glutenous Mac-and-Cheese, for example, sometimes overflowed in our microwave. After cleaning up the glutenous pasta with my sponge, I didn’t realize I was contaminating my sponge which touched my gluten-free kitchen items when I “cleaned” them. To minimize cross contamination risks, I found it helpful to label all of my gluten-free items using a sharpie. But the sharpie markers run and the masking tape didn’t stay on my plastic containers. After lots of labeling fears, an idea came to me – a gluten-free labeling company!
I wanted Gluten Free Labels to help people like me who cannot eat gluten. The selection of gluten-free labels, tags and flags provides added protection for kitchens and peace of mind for cooks and gluten-sensitive people. Labels lower the risks of cross-contamination and raise awareness of Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance. I want to help people with gluten sensitivities live a more vibrant life – a life where they don’t have to constantly fret over the safety of their food, enjoy well-being, and aren’t sidelined by gluten attacks. I want them to be able to enjoy food and festivities and optimize their health at the same time!
The link between Celiac, gluten sensitivity and fertility is still not widely known about. What advice would you give to someone who is experiencing fertility challenges or miscarriage and is considering removing gluten from their diet but is anxious about changing their diet?
I would recommend anyone considering a gluten-free diet to get tested for celiac disease prior to removing gluten from their diet because you need to have gluten in your diet for the celiac test to be accurate.
You started Gluten Free Labels to help curb cross contamination from products that contain. What a fantastic idea. How do your labels work?
Our silicon tags are dishwasher friendly, oven and microwave safe so you can tag almost anything in your kitchen including your toaster, strainer and pots/pans. My favorite thing to tag is my crockpot when I go to a party and the accompanying ladle so no one accidentally cross contaminates my dish. All of our labels are dishwasher safe so I label my plastic containers “gluten-free” prior to placing leftovers in the freezer and all my condiments “gluten-free” so no guests accidentally dip their glutenous knives into my butter, for example. Finally, our toothpick flags are wonderful to label dishes, baked items and dips “gluten-free” for parties, my children’s school bake sales.
What have you enjoyed most about setting up your own business?
I have enjoyed the connections I’ve made with people that understand what I am going through and I’m happy that I can give back a little convenience to them with our products since being gluten-free can be at times inconvenient. Through online and offline events, I have met so many interesting people in the gluten-free community. I was diagnosed 5 years ago and I am still learning new things every day. Everyone’s stories are unique and many face similar struggles like eating out, cross contamination issues and the dreaded but accidental gluten attack.
What would you tell your 17 year old self?
I don’t think I’d tell myself anything. I don’t think my past self could have handled what the future held, even though everything worked out fine. During many periods of my life, I had to live my life one day at a time. “We live our lives forward and understand them backwards.” The person who first told my husband and me this quote was a Nun, since passed, but a chaplain at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where our preemie girls were saved through prayer, love and a miraculous medical team. She was speaking to my husband and I as if to ease our minds on the “why God did this to us” aspect of going through such a traumatic event. Everything happens for a reason, and we would soon understand it, but at that point, we are subjected to living through it, suffering through it, and the clarity came later.
Here at Tabitha’s Gluten-Free dishes we love cooking and eating with our family. What is your favourite family dish?
As a working mother of three toddlers crockpots/slow cooker meals are my favorite. They are super convenient and I enjoy the quick preparation, leaving for the day and coming home to a warm home cooked meal! Here are two of my favorite meals that I want to share. Gluten Free Crockpot Chili Gluten Free Pesto Chicken and Ranch Crockpot Hope you enjoy them!
Thank you Kelly for sharing your story and delicious recipes. I know your story will continue to help lots of people who may be suffering fertility issues because of undiagnosed Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
For more information on how gluten can effect fertility here are some useful links:
Fertility issues are likely to be something we and/or people we love will encounter.
If you know anyone who you feel might benefit from this information please share this post.
BABY MAKING BRUNCH
- 1 x good sized butternut squash (ideally organic) peeled and cut in to bite size chunks (approx. 4 cups)
- 2 x small red onions peeled and chopped into small wedges
- 1 x teaspoon of paprika
- 1 x tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 x large, free range, organic eggs
- 1 x small knob of butter
- 200g, 70z of swiss chard cut in 5cm strips width wise
- 1/3 of a cup of mixed seeds (I used toasted pumpkin, sunflower and linseed)
- 100g, 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese
- Pre-heat the oven to 180c, gas mark 4, 450f
- Coat the butternut squash in the olive oil, sprinkle with the paprika and roast in the oven for 25 mins.
- Whilst the squash is roasting butter the inside of two ramekins or small oven proof pots and crack an egg in to each.
- After the 25 mins add the egg ramekins to the oven with the, swiss chard and roast for 10 mins.
- Finally take the squash, eggs and swiss chard out of the oven and sprinkle with the feta and seeds, season with salt and pepper and divide between two plates, carefully lifting the eggs out of the ramekins and enjoy!
Notes: This dish is best enjoyed immediately