Dr. Amy Burkhart AKA The Celiac MD - In the News - Can I Eat Here
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Dr. Amy Burkhart AKA The Celiac MD

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Today on Mom Monday, we have a special treat. We were fortunate to get an interview with Dr. Amy Burkhart, M.D., R.D. What makes Dr. Burkhart such a special guest? She not only has celiac disease, but her son and daughter (ages 9 and 7) along with several other family members have it also. How exciting to speak to a doctor who is not only knowledgeable about celiac disease, but actually lives with it! 

At the age of 36, Amy was diagnosed with celiac disease after years of being sick. Upon her diagnosis, she convinced her family members to get tested. Many of them had been battling different health conditions, so they were open to the testing process. Including her son and daughter, a total of 8 members of Dr. Burkhart's family have celiac disease. 

 

I had to take the opportunity to ask Dr. Burkhart some questions that many of us struggle with or have wondered.

How did you convince your family they needed to get tested? 

Some were sick, so they were very willing to get tested. My father was the only hold out. I've found that sometimes people get so used to their symptoms, they forget they actually have them. Migraines are an example of this. "I've always had them." is a reason to get tested. With children, it's easier. Parents are more willing to have their children tested then to actually get checked themselves. With adults, there is only so much you can do. One important thing to remember is: Do not start gluten free diet BEFORE getting tested. continue eating gluten until you are tested (Removing gluten prior to testing can yield false negatives.)

How have you explained to your children what they can eat or can't eat? Do they understand why?

My daughter gets incredibly sick. My son is very good about it too. They've both known since they were tiny, so they don't know any difference. It does require a lot of planning and good teacher communication. Being informed of parties and celebrations involving food is important. When my daughter first started pre-school, they didn't take cross-contact seriously, until she became sick. After they saw the consequences, they took it much more seriously. Since then, it's gotten easier, most likely due to overall awareness. 

What advice do you have for parents who have children that are newly diagnosed?

  • Focus on what your child can have instead of what they cannot.
  • Get them connected with other children who have the same issues. ROCK (Raising Our Celiac Kids) is great if you have one in the area. It's hard to understand how important this child to child connection is until you actually get to see it. There are some great celiac summer camps. I don't think I fully understood how important this is for them until I witnessed it first hand. These programs make them feel as if they are a part of something instead of feeling singled out. 
  • Remain positive and educate yourself. It takes a while to learn how to plan and have a back up plan. For those parties and events where there is food, have a treat box. Make it something special they don't get at any other time, so they are excited. 
 
What is your opinion on products containing less than 20 ppm? 

20 parts per million (ppm), for right now, is the best we have. It is unrealistic to have a zero parts per million cut off for foods that are manufactured. When you look at the studies at how much is actually dangerous, they are pretty conservative with 20 ppm. Of course, ideally a 0-5 ppm cut off would be great, but it's not necessarily realistic, unless you can avoid processed foods and make/grow everything from 100% scratch. If you can get it lower, that's great, but right now, it's what we have and the research supports it. If you are eating one product with 20 ppm, don't combine it with another 20 ppm product. This will help to limit that amount your are consuming.

 
What's your opinion on products that are manufactured in a facility that processes gluten? What about shared equipment? 
 
Preferably, foods would be made in a gluten free facility. Those that are manufactured in the same facility, most people can tolerate. I don't recommend products that are made on shared equipment. A lot of these facilities and products in question are product dependent. Depending upon flour in the facility, etc. Not all companies have the same practices.
 
Dr. Burkhart practices in Napa, CA. She specializes in integrative medicine which uses traditional medical therapies and alternative therapies to optimally treat patients. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, visit her WEBSITE or see her contact information below. 
 
Dr. Amy Burkhart
1100 Lincoln Avenue
Suite 200
Napa, CA 94558
 
(707) 927.5622 office
(707) 927.5747 fax
 
The information from this interview is that of personal opinion. It is not medical advice, thus CanIEatHere.com and Dr. Burkhart cannot be held liable. Please contact your physician or make an appointment with Dr. Burkhart for specific questions related to your health.