I came to the Yukon in the spring of 2012 and that August I noticed a full

page story in the Yukon News saying that more North Americans have gluten problems than once thought.

Having been diagnosed Celiac more than 30 years ago, I was curious about the availability of support and reference material for celiacs in the Yukon.

My findings left me with the realization that creating and administering a Yukon satellite group of the Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) would be beneficial for our territory.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder whereby the sufferer cannot tolerate gluten, causing a host of gastrointestinal issues and general poor health when gluten is consumed. Gluten is a protein found in some grains, particularly wheat.

Our group, which is supported and endorsed by the CCA Edmonton Chapter, offers a variety of support and information for newly-diagnosed celiacs and those choosing to be gluten-free. Our support ranges from simply being a point of contact here in the Yukon to voice questions or concerns, to directing people to resource information for managing a gluten-free diet, to even taking people on a shopping tour.

The availability of gluten-free food in our grocery stores is great and the managers are always open to suggestions of bringing in more products that you identify for them.

My dining experiences in the Yukon have left me with a handful of restaurants that take the zero cross contamination for celiacs seriously. There are many restaurants that say they have gluten-free options, for example, quinoa, chicken wings, pizza crust on the menu, but when challenged, I found that the products used were not gluten-free certified, or the preparation was done in a gluten filled environment thus allowing for cross contamination – which is toxic to a diagnosed celiac.

This month numerous events are being held across Canada to promote awareness and education for celiacs who require a zero tolerance gluten free diet in order to live.

In recognition of May being Celiac Disease Awareness Month, the CCA Yukon Support Group is hosting drop-in info sessions in Whitehorse on May 15 at the library Community Room and in Dawson City on May 21 at the front entrance to the hospital. On May 29 in Whitehorse we will have an information table staffed at the annual Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes at Shipyards Park.

I hope to see you at one of these events. Volunteer assistance is always appreciated.

For more information or to arrange a guided grocery shopping trip, contact us at ccayukon@gmail.com.

Celiac Disease: More Grave than a Diet Choice


13 Things You Need to Know About Celiac Disease – Because  Celiac Disease is not a Fad

1. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease (other examples of autoimmune diseases are Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis).

2. There are over 300 known symptoms of celiac disease. It can be difficult to diagnose because it affects people differently and some people with celiac disease show no symptoms.

3. Digestive symptoms are not the only symptoms of celiac disease. Other symptoms include iron deficiency anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, seizures or migraines, depression, osteoporosis and an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis.

4. More people have celiac disease than Crohn’s disease, colitis and cystic fibrosis combined.

5. Celiac disease is hereditary. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.

6. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems, including the development of other autoimmune diseases such as chronic gastrointestinal disorders.

7. Many people with celiac disease report having “brain fog” – problems with staying focused and paying attention, lapses in short term memory.

8. 1 in 100 People in Canada have celiac disease – on average in North America, it takes 10 years before a correct diagnosis is made.

9. The later the age of diagnosis, the greater the chance of developing another autoimmune disorder.

10. It is estimated that up to 20 per cent of people diagnosed with celiac disease have persistent symptoms while on a gluten-free diet. There are several causes to poorly responsive celiac disease, including small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and pancreatic insufficiency.

11. Consuming the smallest amount of gluten can make a person with celiac disease very ill.

12. Commonly, people with celiac disease experience several nutritional deficiencies, such as iron, calcium, vitamin D, zinc, B6, B12 and folate.

13. Dermatitis herpetiformis affects 15 to 25 per cent of people with celiac disease. This is a skin manifestation of celiac disease, appearing as extremely itchy bumps or blisters appearing on the body.