She mixes it, makes it and delivers it
Imagine suffering from constant rashes, blisters, bloating, and chronic stomach disorders for many years, and not knowing what is wrong? This is what happened to Judy Ryder from Moreland Township before she realized that she was suffering from Celiac disease.
It took until January 2005 before she was able to get a diagnosis. One in 130 suffer from this disease and only 5% are diagnosed.
Today, her main goal in life is to share with others what she has learned about Celiac disease over the past five years. “I do not want people to suffer in silence. I had to start by cleaning my kitchen entirely. Even a crumb can make me sick for weeks,” said Ryder who added that Celiac disease is not a new disease. Blood tests are used to measure levels of the disease. But it is a tough disease to live with because gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye.
The important thing to remember is that nothing in your kitchen can come into contact with any kind of product made with these flours. Not even a toaster, a pan, cutlery, strainers, nothing. “I had to start all over and remove everything from my kitchen,” Ryder acknowledged who replaced all bakery equipment, dishes and utensils.
Be wary of pre-packaged foods that say they are gluten free advises Ryder. “If that package is marked gluten free, yet made in the same kitchen that makes other products with wheat flour, than it won’t help me one bit,” said Ryder who would research the company to see what environment their products were made in before shipping to retailers. According to Ryder, most grocery stores have a gluten free shelf, but products cannot be cross contaminated. Check with the manufacturer first to make sure everything is gluten free.
“I prefer not to eat outside my house. I choose not to eat at restaurants because it is very difficult for them to cook foods totally free from any kind of contact with other foods that I cannot eat,” she said. There are, however, some areas that do have trained staff at their restaurants to serve safe gluten free meals in a gluten free environment.
“I had to stop going to functions such as reunions and weddings, birthdays and fairs, because it is all based on food. It has taken me a long time to overcome this, and now I want to help others who suffer like this make an easy transition to their diets.”
“Even medications have gluten in them as fillers,” adds Ryder. “I have to check everything. You have to be your own advocate to survive this disease.”
And so along came Gluten Free Innovations, Ryder’s innovative business to help others conquer Celiac Disease and learn how to live a gluten free lifestyle. “I want to be a resource to help others like myself, to be informative and live without fear of pain or discomfort.” There is such a risk of getting other diseases such as diabetes or cancer if Celiac disease is not treated accurately according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.
The CDF strongly recommends a medical diagnosis with Celiac Disease by a qualified physician before modifying any diet.
Do not self-diagnose. Talk to a healthcare provider about Celiac blood tests that are available for preliminary diagnosis. In order to get accurate test results, it is important to first follow a daily diet that contains gluten.
When individuals with CD ingest gluten, the villi, tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients from food, are damaged. This is due to an immunological reaction to gluten. Damaged villi do not effectively absorb basic nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and, in some cases, water and bile salts. If CD is left untreated, damage to the small bowel can be chronic and life threatening, causing an increased risk of associated disorders, both nutritional and immune related. Iron levels are also depleted or extremely low.
Ryder is helping people live with Celiac everyday. She has learned how to enjoy her favorite foods without gluten and share them with others. “I was startled to see that a small 11 oz bag of pretzels would cost me $8.99. This prompted me to bake my own snacks,” she said.
Each week she bakes over 50 loaves of bread and 20 to 30 dozen cookies and whoopie pies. All products are fresh, gluten-free, not frozen and hand-delivered on weekends.
Through Gluten Free Innovations and her network of support, Ryder will continue to be a resource for gluten-free patients who want to live a normal, healthy lifestyle. She is currently working on a website to view her baked goods with information about the ingredients in the products, and a list of resources where other gluten free products can be purchased. Her products are sold in stores in Wexford, Lewisburg, Hershey, Dushore, Wysox and State College. She is in the process of working with Marriott Hotels to consider her products for their dessert menu. Ryder can be reached at 570-916-0719.