Fargo, North Dakota
Celiac diagnosis in 1997
“The first time I tasted Paul Mehl’s gluten-free products I knew this was something special. I was fascinated by his dedication to finding the very best ingredients from around the world, working to find exactly the right combinations to make fantastic gluten-free food. His research and results have been life changing. Mehl’s gluten free food is so amazing that even a non-Celiac gourmet would find them delicious.
I can’t tell you what a treat it is to have foods I could eat that tasted like foods I remembered from before I was forced by Celiac disease to become completely gluten-free in 1997. Now this little local gluten-free bakery has become “Mehl’s Flour Company” and has expanded to allow people all over the world to enjoy the fruits of his labor. This is such great news for those of us with a gluten-free lifestyle; Mehl’s gluten-free Flour transforms ever recipe into a taste and texture that rivals even your mom’s!”
Read more of Sue’s story……………..
In 1997 when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease I was fighting several health battles at once. I had been diagnosed with chronic autoimmune hepatitis a few years earlier and was in a study of patients like me at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. They found that autoimmune diseases tend to cluster in patients so I was routinely tested and discovered at that time that I was also hyperthyroid, suffering from Raynaud’s disease as well as psoriasis. That year also was a turning point in our family for several other reasons, and stands out in my mind as a fairly tumultuous time.
I was told to see a dietician in Fargo and when I did I it was suggested that I shouldn’t eat anything with wheat, rye, barley or oats in it. No more family outings to the bagel shop for me. No more fast food. No more pancakes or waffles. No more Christmas cookies! I’m no cook, and experimenting with cooking and baking without flour was not in my wheelhouse. So I just “cut back” on gluten. In other words: I cheated.
For a few years the few symptoms I had seemed to disappear, or so it seemed. Then I went to a Celiac conference and there my eyes were opened. I found out that even a milligram of gluten can do damage to my intestines. Considering a sandwich has 3,000 milligrams that was the first and only time I cried over my diagnosis. I didn’t think I could do this for the rest of my life. But my husband assured me that I could, and like so many things in life, I would take this reality one day at a time.
Back in those days, there was no allergy information required on food products. I had to read the small print on every box, can and frozen food item I bought. “Modified food starch” could mean wheat – or not. Waiters and waitresses, managers, even chefs at restaurants had no idea what I was talking about when I requested gluten-free options. “No sugar?” they would reply.
Through the efforts of the national Celiac organization, food labeling became standard and now there is large print at the end of every list of ingredients identifying food allergens of many types. If they only knew what a difference this made for me and countless others! In addition, due to the lobbying of countless groups and individuals, most restaurants have gluten-free options listed, or even a separate menu, and have educated their wait staffs. And grocery stores have increased their health food selections exponentially to include gluten-free sections.
All this was very helpful, but still I missed eating bread. I could barely enjoy any of the commercially-made gluten-free options out there, mostly because they all tasted “sweet” to me. Almost like fruit breads. One bakery in town offered gluten-free baked goods once a month, fairly pricey and needed to be ordered ahead of time. It was good but inconvenient.
Then I read in the newspaper about a fellow whose family had nine diagnosed Celiacs. This family’s frustration with finding good-tasting options set him on a quest to research and experiment, to the point that he left his current job and opened his own gluten- free bakery. Thank you, Paul!!!
Sue Ankrum/Fargo, ND