Gluten-free Ann Arbor
Consultant Bill Damon was diagnosed with CD seventeen years ago. "In those days, I was lucky to have an excellent doctor who got to a diagnosis quickly," Damon recalls. "He told me: 'You're starving to death.'" (CD damages the small intestine, reducing the body's ability to absorb nutrients.) In those days, Damon notes, there were only a few GF products available at the People's Food Co-op and Arbor Farms. "Today, there's a tidal wave of new products." Equally important, the stigma has been lessened. "But," he goes on, "people still need to recognize that there are serious long-term health issues associated with celiac disease, including possible colon cancer."
Local celiacs owe a debt of gratitude to freelance programmer Valerie Mates, whose cyber support group and email list-- groups.yahoo.com/group/glutenfreeannarbor --features reviews of area restaurants, stores, bakeries, and even medical practitioners. The list has been up and running since 2005, the year that Mates and her daughter were diagnosed with CD. At last count, the site had 516 members, most of them in Ann Arbor.
"Celiac can be a very isolating condition, because of how complicated it becomes to eat with your friends," Mates observes. "Ann Arbor desperately needs a dedicated gluten-free restaurant. Also, local people with celiac disease are very undersupported by the medical community. There are fabulous celiac centers at hospitals in California, New York, Boston, and Chicago. I'd love to see a specialized celiac disease center at the U of M Hospital."