WCU student Waldroup creates Celiac support group

Sometimes it just helps to be able to talk to someone about our problems. There are always people who can sympathize without problems, but we need to share our stories with those who can truly empathize with our difficulties.

Last August, Jodie Waldroup began her long journey with Celiac disease. No matter how supportive the family and friends that surrounded her were, they did not fully understand the pain and loss that Celiac caused. Waldroup is now attempting to help others with dietary health issues in Cullowhee.

Celiac Disease is a lifelong autoimmune condition that affects people’s ability to absorb gluten. The gluten creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that damages the small intestine. The severity to which people react to this disease varies, but even small amounts of gluten can affect a person greatly. The problem with Celiac disease is that gluten is fairly common in most foods, especially the ones found on campus. Gluten is found in all forms of wheat and the related grains. People with Celiac disease and other food allergies have to take faith in the people who work behind the scenes, hoping that they change their gloves and take the necessary precautions to avoid cross contamination between foods. If the people who are working with and processing the food do not take precautions, people can get extremely sick.

The enormous weight that society places on our shoulders drives our need to fit in-to adapt to those around us. Now, imagine being invited to a party or event where you had to decline because you could not eat the food that was provided. Or being embarrassed when you are out with a group of people and they decide to go eat ice cream.

“Food is social. We eat at the movies and the park. We are constantly surrounded by people and food,” said Waldroup. “So, when a situation arises you either decline or make it awkward and painful for not just yourself, but your hostess or friend as well.”

The support group, the brain child of Nancy Davis and Waldroup, will inevitably be a place where people who have alternative diets will be able to discuss their limitations and the ways around them. The main goals for this support group are to bring together those who are affected by Celiac disease, to assist students in coping with their dietary needs and to raise awareness about the alternative diets that exist on campus.

Although, Davis and Waldroup are working extremely hard to get this group into motion they are facing several struggles. They know that there are students on campus who have Celiac and other health issues, but they do not know if they will be receptive to the idea of a support group on campus.

Waldroup said, “We are greater in numbers. I just want to get the word out so people know that we are here. At first when I didn’t have anyone to talk to, I wasn’t sure about what to do, but then I talked to people like John Crowe and Nancy Davis. It helps having people who understand really helps.”

The club is open to anyone who wants to learn more about Celiac disease. If you want more information, you can contact Jodie Waldroup at jmwaldroup1@catamount.wcu.edu and Nancy Davis at nfdavis@email.wcu.edu.