Celiac Disease & Emergency Preparedness

sign saying gluten free“Do those have gluten?” Is a question we get asked often here at Total Prepare. For some, avoiding gluten is a dietary choice, made on the advice of books or gurus. For people with Celiac disease, eating even a trace amount of certain wheat proteins (gluten) can mean hours of discomfort grappling with constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or a whole host of other issues.

There are many symptoms (over 200!) associated with celiac disease that many people don’t realize they have it. The symptoms are broad and vary in severity depending on the case. If you eat gluten as someone with celiac disease, you may experience one, or a combination of the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis (bone loss)
  • Liver disorders
  • Depression or anxiety
  • A ‘pins and needles’ sensation in the hands and feet
  • Seizures
  • Migraines
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Itchy skin rash
  • The list goes on!

To further confuse things, the disease can appear in children or adults without warning or explanation, and even without symptoms (positive blood test or intestinal biopsy.)

What is Gluten?

What is this mysterious substance that can take any form and bring any one of us low without warning? Unfortunately it’s wheat. Or at least a family of proteins commonly found in wheat, rye, and barley. Why do I say ‘unfortunately’? Because this stuff is pervasive. You can barely walk down a busy street without seeing it or signs for it. Everything from bread, pasta, pizza, muffins, some icings, varieties of oats, certain ice creams, couscous, and even soy sauce becomes an enemy. It can take weeks, or even months, to work gluten out of one’s system, so even one bite of the wrong foods can mean a lot of set back.a wheat field with the sun glaring down on it

The Good News for People with Celiac Disease?

Awareness is growing! Thanks to the hard work of organizations like Victoria’s own Celiac Scene more and more people are able to put a name to the symptoms that have been plaguing them and more organizations are creating options for people suffering from the disease. The Celiac Scene also create resources and community to help people live a gluten free lifestyle. If you haven’t already, check them out!

Gluten-Free Preparedness

When it comes to finding food that is gluten free and can be stored for more than a few years celiac preppers face quite the challenge! While there are strides being made in many area of GF emergency food, there’s still a long way for the industry to go.

Celiac Safe Ration Bars & MREs

Unfortunately no. Sorry reader. At the time of writing there are no gluten free ration bars on the market with a shelf life of 2 years or greater (if you hear of one let us know! We’ve been looking!). Your best bet for having a bar option in your kit is to regularly rotate out an energy bar brand that you know is safe for you.

Technically, there are gluten free MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) being made in the USA, but bringing them into Canada requires huge minimum orders. It’s a logistical challenge that can be difficult to overcome. If you travel to the states however, you might have more luck. The brand XMRE can be brought on planes as it’s heater does not contain mercury, so toss a case into stowed baggage on your way back!

GF Pre-Made Meals

Legacy Premium Food Storage does make several products that are certified gluten free. Their packages include all of our staff favourites: enchilada beans and rice, classic chili, and potato soup. They have a 25 year shelf life, are non-GMO, have no added MSG, and are also vegetarian. Not bad!

a gluten free meal from Legacy

The only downside? They require water and a heat source to cook so they’re better for sheltering in place rather than evacuation. Even with that in mind, this is still the brand all of Total Prepare’s team has in our kits. We even take it camping on occasion!

Keep it Simple

If you have a lot of food sensitivities, or just want to keep your prepared foods as pure as possible, consider storing single ingredient options like meat, fruits, and vegetables.

DIY

If you are do any dehydrating of your own food, consider extending the shelf life with mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. You can store other dry food this way too, like white rice or lentils, to add some cost-saving bulk to your supplies.

 

Thank you for reading and good luck on your celiac journey!

This article was written by Zenia Platten – Author of Tethered and Emergency Preparedness Professional.

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