Some people might consider Cody Ankerman a picky eater. He is picky, though, because he has to be. After learning four years ago that he has celiac disease, he struggled to find gluten-free food - much less food he liked.
Some people might consider Cody Ankerman a picky eater.
He is picky, though, because he has to be.
After learning four years ago that he has celiac disease, he struggled to find gluten-free food - much less food he liked.
"We really had trouble finding food in restaurants and grocery stores," said Ankerman, an 18-year-old senior at New Albany High School. "I had to read a lot of labels and make a lot of my own food."
In people who have the genetic disorder, gluten - a protein present in grains such as wheat, rye and barley - damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents the proper absorption of nutrients. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea and weight loss.
The only treatment: a gluten-free diet.
At home, Ankerman had to make some food-related adjustments.
"No one else in the family has it, so I have to have my own toaster - even my own jar of peanut butter - because (bread) crumbs could get in and I couldn't get them off."
Such experiences prompted him to write GluTeen Free, a self-published cookbook devoted to gluten-free recipes.
The paperback - published through Lulu.com and marketed as a "cookbook written for teens by a teen" - chronicles his battle with celiac disease and encompasses 20 gluten-free recipes.
Ankerman tackled the cookbook as his 80-hour senior-seminar project, a graduation requirement for all New Albany students - thinking he could help others avoid at least some of the problems he had faced.
"Cody exemplifies the essence of senior seminar and what we are trying to achieve here at New Albany High School," project adviser Paul Locke said.
For the project, Locke said, seniors are encouraged to study a topic that ignites their passion.
"(Cody) recognized that here was an opportunity not only to deepen his knowledge regarding celiac (disease) but also to ease the pain celiac causes on others by developing a cookbook specifically tailored to those with a gluten intolerance."
Originally characterized as a rare childhood syndrome, the oft-misunderstood disease is known to afflict more than 2 million people in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Many adults have the disorder for a decade or more before it is diagnosed.
The longer the ailment is undiagnosed, the greater the chance of long-term complications, the health agency says.
Although he has had celiac disease for years, said Ankerman, who plans to study business at the University of Cincinnati, he learned much more about the condition while pursuing his project.
"I also learned a lot more about food and cooking - and how much work it takes to make a cookbook," he said. "The most difficult part was coming up with recipes and trying to make them work."
His family - mother Judy; father Marc; sister Jordan, 20; and twin sister Kelsey - likes his recipes so much that the dishes have been incorporated into meals for everyone.
"With Cody realizing he has to be so careful in his preparation of food," his mother said, "he has developed a real interest in cooking and making special recipes that are not only gluten-free but tasty enough for the whole family."