Celiac Awareness

By Sabrina Oliver, RD, CSO, CDN

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects approximately 1 in 100 people worldwide.  The diagnosis of Celiac Disease is determined through a tissue transglutaminase antibody-immunoglobulin A (tTG-IgA) blood test and small intestine biopsy done by your GI doctor. Celiac Disease is caused when the protein GLUTEN naturally found in barley, rye, wheat, and sometimes oats cause damage to finger-like villi in the small intestine and prevents nutrients from being absorbed properly.   People with Celiac Disease may complain of diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, bloating and/or anemia.  If left untreated Celiac Disease can lead to serious complications.

You may not know this, but the ONLY cure for celiac disease is a strict Gluten Free diet.   Gluten Free is not just a trendy diet!

The good news is many grocery stores have several gluten free food options. The FDA defined the words “gluten-free” for the voluntary labeling of all FDA-regulated packaged foods, including dietary supplements.  

You need to be a food detective because wheat free does not necessarily mean gluten free ― the food may contain other gluten ingredients such as barley or rye.  For people with Celiac Disease, if a food item contains any of the following ingredients:  wheat, barley, rye, malt, Brewer’s yeast ― do not eat it!

ALWAYS look at the ingredient list! Even trace amounts of gluten, such as gluten from sharing a knife or cutting board, can trigger symptoms to occur and prevent the villi from healing.

How about trying one of my  favorite Gluten Free recipes?  Enjoy!

Black Bean Brownies

*Courtesy of Celiac Disease Foundation 

Prep Time: 15 minutes; Cook Time: 15-18 minutes; Servings: 9


  • 1 15-Ounce Can Black Beans drained and rinsed very well
  • 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour or gluten-free quick oats
  • 1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil or canola oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a food processor or blender, and blend until completely smooth.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips, and then pour into a greased 8 × 8 pan.
  4. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top.
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Your Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist can answer your questions about your Gluten Free diet.

The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center is one of a few centers in the United States that provides comprehensive medical care, including nutrition, for adult and pediatric patients with celiac disease and is diagnosing and treating thousands patients annually from around the world. https://celiacdiseasecenter.columbia.edu/treatment/diet