Living Alongside Celiac Disease

This Grossmont student shows how to come alongside a family member with an incurable disease.


Dawson Chappelear, Staff Writer

Claire Shope, a student at Grossmont College, goes to school and works like most students, but her home life is a bit different– specifically with diet. Her dad, with whom she lives, was diagnosed with celiac disease early in his life. Since they live together, she generally eats what he eats.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects a person’s immune system, causing inflammation and damaging the small intestine, which can lead to many complications. The only way to combat the condition, which is incurable, is to cut gluten out of the diet.

“Living with someone who has celiac is actually pretty easy once you know what to look for,” Shope said.

Guests must be careful with what they bring into the house and make sure items do not contain gluten.

“I have no problem eating gluten substitutes for food,” Shope said. “Like I have rice-pasta a lot, and it’s never tasted different than normal pasta.” 

She continued: “Basically, if I’m having dinner or a meal with my dad, it’s completely gluten-free, but if I’m just eating by myself…I’ll have regular food.”

A healthy person without celiac disease should not cut gluten completely from their diet because it is not good for overall health. So she said she tries to juggle both these diets by allowing time with her dad to dictate gluten-free foods.

She said she does this routine to support her father and face the struggles of the disease with him. 

“I’m always appreciative of my daughter for always being there for me when it comes to my forced diet,” John Shope, Claire’s Shope’s father, said. “She’s a real trooper for that. She even checks the food labels for me.”

Claire Shope makes sure her dad doesn’t feel alone in his condition, which can mean a lot to someone who feels singled out by an incurable disease.