When asked how I found out I have Celiac disease, I say it was pure luck. That is not how you would usually describe someone who has been diagnosed with Celiac; however, some people’s journeys to identifying their issue have been long. It was such a relief to figure out what is wrong with me!

I have always had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) -type symptoms; but over the course of a few years, they had gotten progressively worse.  When my husband, two children, and I moved to Fishers five years ago, my husband insisted that I see a gastroenterologist. Luck happened to be on my side as I found a great doctor. One endoscopy and a few biopsies later, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Celiac or Celiac Sprue Disease is a genetic autoimmune disease which damages the lining, specifically the villi, of your small intestines when you ingest gluten. It inhibits you from absorbing nutrients which, in turn, can lead to other problems such as anemia and osteoporosis.

After I was diagnosed, I went through what others had, have, and are going through when being diagnosed. “What am I going to eat?” and “I have to give up what?” Five years ago, the gluten-free food choices weren’t great. I can’t imagine being diagnosed 10, 15, or 20 years ago as the choices were even less than we have now. However, gluten-free food has come a long way – not only in taste, but in availability. More and more establishments are offering gluten-free choices. In Fishers alone, the list is extensive.

The major grocery store food chains such as Marsh, Kroger, Meijer, and Target all offer a variety of gluten-free products. Some of the stores have a gluten-free section; however, there are many mainstream products that are now labeled gluten free that are placed on the shelves amongst other products. Some examples are Rice Chex cereal and Barilla spaghetti sauce. The newest food store to enter our area is Earth Fare Market. They have one of the largest selections of gluten-free products available. They also make it easier to identify a gluten-free product by placing a brown bar on the shelf under that product.

Many restaurants in Fishers do a great job in serving the gluten-free community. One of my favorite places for breakfast/brunch is the Sunrise Café. They feature a gluten-free menu offering items such as a crustless quiche served with gluten-free bread. If you are in the mood for a salad, soup, spud, or even nachos, then McAlister’s Deli is the place for you. Visit their website under their nutritional menu, and then click gluten to view a full list of items that are safe to eat. In my opinion, Murphy’s Pub House is a must to visit.  They do not have a gluten-free menu, but they will work with your dietary needs and can make a gluten-free pizza and other gluten-free items. Thai Kitchen, Qdoba (look on their allergen chart), Noodles & Company (they have rice noodles and are currently carrying a special gluten-free dish), and Cheeseburger in Paradise are also area favorites.

Pizza was a major food item for me to give up. So I am devoting a separate paragraph to it! Now, either dine in or carry out, there are several gluten-free options from which to choose. My favorites are Puccini’s Smiling Teeth (I personally love the paparazzi and the shrimp santori), Monical’s (gluten-free veggie is also a must), Extreme Pizza, and Dominos.

For the dessert lover in all of us, there is Gigi’s Cupcakes. They carry gluten-free cupcakes on Fridays and Saturdays. If needed sooner, you can place a special order for no less than a dozen. Zogurts yogurts and all but two of Orange Leaf’s yogurts are gluten free, too.

As a final note, I would like to add that these are some of my favorite places I like to frequent here in Fishers. There are several more that offer gluten-free menus and choices; sometimes all you have to do is ask. Most of these establishments do not have a dedicated kitchen in which to cook gluten-free items; however, several do have dedicated equipment and/or utensils used to prepare and serve the gluten-free foods. The only establishment I have encountered that has a dedicated kitchen is called The Measuring Cup. It is an online bakery, and they are also found at local Farmers Markets. I have ordered from them several times, and their food is truly wonderful.  To contact them, email them at cwilcox@gfmeasuringcup.com.

Gluten seems to be a popular topic these days. I hear about diets that exclude gluten and then, of course, there are health reasons as to why some of us want gluten-free items. I want to say that I listed some of the places I have frequented, and I have not had any reactions with my Celiac Disease. I think it is important to get the word out that there are choices for us with this disease. Luck had a lot to do with my diagnosis, but it doesn’t have to dictate my dining.