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Gluten-free mom creates labels for kitchen

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Gluten-free mom creates labels for the kitchen

This week for Mom Monday, I had the opportunity to speak with Kelly LeDonni. Kelly was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008. Unlike many, her path to diagnosis wasn’t GI symptom related. She suffered miscarriages and fertility issues. Infertility is often overlooked as a sign or symptom of celiac disease. Kelly, now a proud mother of 3, has since dedicated herself to the advocacy of celiac disease and gluten-intolerance. She was kind enough to open up to us about her diagnosis, how it changed her life, and what she’s doing now to help the celiac and gluten-free community.

Kelly, what were your symptoms that lead to your diagnosis? Did you have any gastrointestinal issues that would indicate celiac disease?

 “I had two devastating miscarriages and after the second, it is standard for fertility doctors to conduct a series of tests (genetic and chromosomal) to assess cause. When I probed my fertility doctor to test me for Celiac Disease, she assured me that she had never heard of a correlation between gluten sensitivity and infertility. After learning this, I was hesitant to insist that she tack on the test for Celiac Disease anyway. My husband, however, was adamant about adding it to the blood work. So, it was added. The results came back. All blood work was fine, except for one result. I was positive for Celiac Disease. I was in shock. Apart from some mild bloating, I experienced 2 to 3 stomach aches per year (at most). Nothing about my physical condition screamed Celiac Disease. I did suffer from migraines. I was, also, diagnosed with Hypothyroidism in 2003. Nothing in my opinion pointed to a gluten intolerance. My symptoms were miscarriages. I didn’t really know what the results meant. I immediately went to an Endocrinologist for more details.”

After you removed gluten from your diet, how did your life change?

“I took my diet extremely seriously, with the ultimate goal of getting pregnant. It worked. After 8 months of living on a strict gluten free diet, I was able to get pregnant and stay pregnant via in vitro fertilization (IVF) and delivered twin girls. I was also able to conceive naturally after the birth of my girls and now have a 1 year old boy. The downside, however, was that I still had Celiac Disease, and still had to keep a strict diet. I realized quickly just how sensitive I really was after my first incident of cross contamination. The consequence of cross contamination is an immediate gluten attack due to my heightened sensitivity, resulting in violent vomiting 10 minutes (almost to the dot) of me ingesting gluten.”

You’ve recently started a business that helps those on a gluten-free diet prevent cross-contact. What prompted you to start your business?

“The idea for first emerged last summer after I wrote all over a bottle of alcohol ‘Kelly’s bottle’, so others would not drink it at a party. I was a bit embarrassed. It’s not because I’m anti-sharing or a heavy drinker; I just wanted guests to know that I was unable to drink anything other than my gluten free bottle of Coconut Ciroc. I had also used a post-it note for gluten free cookies that I made at the same party. I wanted to share my cookies but also wanted everyone to know not to touch a glutinous cracker and then touch my gluten free cookies. Like everyone else, I wanted to enjoy the festivities — without getting ill. Of course, by the end of the night, my post-it fell off the cookie container and I wasn’t sure if they were tainted or not. Following the party, I Googled 'gluten free labels' in an attempt to purchase them and I could not find them. It was an ‘Ah Ha!’ moment and I knew if I needed a better way to label, tag and flag items ‘Gluten Free’ than others would too!
With the support of my husband, we created an assortment of dishwasher safe labels (to mark plastic containers or add dates on frozen leftovers), oven safe tags (to attach to toasters, strainers or ladles) & gluten free branded toothpicks (to wave off gluten contaminates by flying these in cupcakes, finger foods or cupcakes) to prevent cross contamination or just to create convenience in gluten aware kitchens and beyond (restaurants, school cafeterias, hotels, etc).
I’ve shared my personal story with the hopes of helping others who may be going through similar fertility issues and can't find an answer. Everyone does have the power to take back control over his/her health and create the life he/she wants. So, if any of your readers have experienced multiple miscarriages, I strongly advocate they get tested for Celiac Disease. Please tell them not to put it off - like I did. Gluten shouldn't get in the way of getting pregnant or staying healthy."