Tiffany Hinton with family
May is Celiac Awareness Month, and bestselling author and certified functional medicine coach Tiffany Hinton has a message: Celiac disease isn’t just about one person, but rather a whole community. An immune reaction to a protein found in barley, wheat and rye, celiac disease affects roughly 1% of the population, including Hinton, who was diagnosed in winter of 2007 to 2008. This was 16 years ago, and since, she’s undergone IVF twice and become a mother. After sharing some gluten-free recipes in a cookbook, which helped kick start her journey of launching GF Mom Certified, a company that offers dietary assistance to women suffering from gluten allergies and autoimmune diseases. Today, her goal remains the same: to help people achieve a lifestyle and body that they love.
How long did it take for your doctor to properly diagnose your condition?
I was diagnosed in high school with IBS, and the doctor at the time didn’t do anything other than a colonoscopy and put me on a high fiber diet and a bunch of different meds. My symptoms got worse, and about 16 years ago I got a job in Chicago that led me to a wider realm of gastro doctors. In the winter of 2007, I ended up in the ER and they took my appendix out. They told me at that point I had other things going on that were causing the gastro issues.
What were the lifestyle changes you had to incorporate into your routine after your diagnosis?
I had a ton of changes. I went through grief from food. I was angry. I can remember being at the condo [my husband and I had] at the time, and I was chucking food into this box thinking, “If I can’t eat this, then you can’t eat this.” We ended up donating the food to a family that could eat it. I remember reading the labels and seeing wheat and barley and I thought, “Why does this even have wheat in it? What is the purpose?”
Can you share a little bit about your experience with IVF?
Yes. Because celiac disease causes nutritional deficiencies, I ended up working with a fertility doctor that had specialized in treating multiple autoimmune conditions. He was board-certified in multiple practices and internal medicine. He put me on a paleo diet. I did IVF twice, both times successful. Because I was deficient, I was seeing a nutritionist at the time, and she was helping me through my pregnancy.
What, in particular, motivated you to create GF Mom Certified?
In 2009, a friend of ours ended up calling me in tears because her daughter got diagnosed with celiac disease. She was like, “I don’t know how I’m gonna live. I don’t know what to feed her.” She asked for some recipes from this binder I kept in my kitchen. To me, it was all chicken scratches and pieced together, but from a place of empathy, I understood where she was in the grieving process. This encouraged me to type out everything in that binder and put it on Amazon. The whole idea is that one person buys this book, and we ended up selling 9,000 copies in two months. At that point, I [realized that] this is bigger than one person.
As a Certified Functional Medicine Coach, what services do you offer to clients?
I offer detox programs geared at mothers and people that need to live on restrictive diets. I primarily work with women who have autoimmune diseases. We offer 90-minute coaching sessions to help them create a plan to move forward.
What advice would you give to anyone who is experiencing a celiac disease diagnosis?
My first suggestion is to find a counselor or coach who understands the process that they’re going to go through, like the grieving and environmental changes. Don’t do it alone. Be strong enough to raise your hand and tell someone you need help.