Health Hero: Ilise Ratner

Ilise Ratner experienced digestive problems for decades. She did all the right things to change her diet and nutritional intake. But there was one thing that was missing. It took the right diagnosis to make a real difference in her health.

The Missing Piece to My Health Puzzle

I was misdiagnosed with lactose intolerance and IBS at 25.  I was told to eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains. However, no one realized that wheat should have been a restricted food for me. I had symptoms like an itchy rash on my elbow and thought it was a direct result of stress.  Little did I know it was dermatitis hepaformis, a red flag for Celiac Disease.

Subconsciously, I stopped eating many foods that just didn't agree with me: no sauces on foods, no dressing on salad, and nothing fried.  I began eating foods that eased my stomach such as vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins. 

However, I was eating gluten-based foods and didn't know that was the culprit to my digestive problems. I continued experiencing similar issues until I moved to Boston where I was diagnosed with Osteopenia (a precursor to Osteoporosis) and Premature Ovarian Failure (POF), or premature menopause. I was infertile!  Both conditions are related to Celiac Disease.

My employer relocated me to NYC, with multiple restaurants and food choices on every block.  I still ate nutritiously by eating salads, soups, and low fat foods, but I was eating high-gluten foods. It also didn't help that I was eating out twice a day and daily for six years.

On January 2009, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at age 49. But it did not surprise me. In fact, it was a relief to finally discover the missing piece to my health puzzle. Since then, everything changed. I cooked 95 percent of my meals at home and included new protein sources (quinoa, millet, and various legumes) that I didn't even know existed.  I also incorporated food groups that tailored to my different cravings, such as sweet potato for my sweet tooth.  I eliminated about 75 percent of all sugar and processed foods, including gluten-free foods. And I was eating whole fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and chicken.  You could say I was and still am a healthy Celiac.

I know firsthand about the challenges, such as talking to people about the disease, ordering in a restaurant without feeling odd, and cooking for myself and others.  Nevertheless, I am comfortable with my new dietary and lifestyle changes.  It's challenging, but worth it!

As a Certified Health Coach, I bridge the gap for gluten intolerant, sensitive clients from diagnosis to a healthy and fulfilling gluten-free life.  When Celiacs go home after visiting a doctor or hospital, they need practical help, such as maintaining a 100 percent gluten-free diet, understanding how relationships affect our well-being, and incorporating physical activity. This is the work I do with my clie nts.  We set and accomplish goals, explore new foods and recipes, plan menus, and understand and reduce food cravings.  We work on increasing energy and gaining confidence while remaining healthy in all areas of life.  This work helps prevent multiple doctor visits, improves all-around nourishment, and helps fill in the missing pieces of their health puzzle.

 Ilise Ratner helps her clients create healthy relationships with food and be more proactive with their health. Diagnosed with Celiac Disease, she coaches/counsels other Celiacs, and others sensitive to gluten and other items. Ilise trained with Joshua Rosenthal at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a Certified Health Counselor. She is focused on helping her clients make healthy choices, prevent disease, age actively and maintain general wellness.

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