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Going gluten-free during the holidays

According to the Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign, more than two million people in the U.S. face the challenges of this disease.

Those with this disease, which attacks your immune system, are unable to eat foods containing gluten, as it will injure the lining of the small intestine.

According to information provided by registered dietician Deborah Kelleher, gluten is the protein part of wheat, rye, barley, and other related grains.

For Ashli Cromp, finding gluten-free foods is an everyday "chore."

Cromp, who was diagnosed with Celiac disease three years ago, has found eating to be something she can't do spontaneously anymore.

"I have to check labels. I always have to plan ahead. Going out to eat with friends makes it difficult," Cromp explained. "I have to do some research before and see if the restaurant has gluten-free options."

Cromp has also found the holidays to be a difficult time when it comes to her special diet.

"I usually make something for myself. For Thanksgiving I made my own pie," she said. "If I go somewhere for dinner or for a party, I bring my own dessert because generally dessert is out."

Another difficult aspect of Celiac disease is the smallest cross-contamination of food with gluten can cause a reaction.

"I live with two people that don't have Celiac disease," she said. "I have my own toaster just to be on the safe side, so that their bread isn't touching the same toaster that I put my bread in."

"Cross-contamination is something people just don't think about," she added.

Cromp hopes people will consider those with this disease when making food and desserts in the future.

"The knowledge that people had three years ago is much less than it is now," she said. "So, I'm hopeful that five years from now, 10 years from now, it's something that almost everybody is going to know about."

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