Today marks the one year anniversary of my celiac disease diagnosis. To “celebrate,” I’m sharing what I’ve learned this past year about living with celiac disease in hopes of making it easier for new members to the community.
The first step once you’re diagnosed with celiac disease is to do your research. It’s overwhelming when you don’t know what you can eat or what celiac disease really is.
When I was first diagnosed I immediately felt a wave of despair and let it take control of me. I thought I would never eat a delicious meal again. Once I started realizing I could eat corn, legumes, and dairy, I knew I didn’t have to feel so deprived!
Taking the time to research celiac disease and understand cross-contamination can be a huge relief. There is more anxiety associated with the unknown. I looked on reputable websites such as BeyondCeliac.org so I could get those hard facts and statistics. It was also strangely comforting to know there is a huge population of people out there with the same diagnosis.
Find Foods That Taste like the Real Deal
I’ll never forget taking a bite into my first slice of gluten free bread and the taste of gross chalk in my mouth. What I didn’t know then though was that there are very delicious gluten free bread brands out there, it’s just all trial and error on finding out which ones are tasty.
From local bakeries to my personal favorite Canyon Bakehouse Mountain, I discovered that I don’t need to sacrifice taste.
Plus I can still “splurge” every once in awhile and satisfy my sweet tooth with some healthy alternatives. I love the taste of whole fruits in Reveri frozen dessert and chocolate bark from ChocZero. Since my stomach is pretty sensitive, it’s great to have these options that I can trust to not give me a bellyache.
Italian food has always been my absolute favorite and jokes on me! No more pasta… or so I thought. There are so many great kinds of pasta made with rice and quinoa. Really, living with celiac disease isn’t all that bad if you can eat the type of food you used to eat but minus the gluten.
Look Over Menus BEFORE Entering the Restaurant
Luckily, most menus at restaurants now have an indicator of “GF” next to the items that are gluten free but nothing is more overwhelming than getting to a restaurant and realizing there’s only one thing on the menu you can actually eat.
Using Yelp, the restaurant’s website, and using sites such as Find Me Gluten Free has really helped me do that extra research before dining out. I always know exactly what I’m going to order before even leaving my home. I’ve found that it makes dining out less stressful and I don’t have to feel uncomfortable asking at the table if something is gluten free or not.
Make Light of the Situation
It is definitely easier said than done, but laughter is the best medicine after all. Yes, sometimes I get tired of people thinking gluten free is just a fad, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what people think.
I’ve been a huge fan of comedian JP Sears for this reason. He has the funniest video on being gluten free that honestly made me feel so much better about it. Comedic relief is a real thing. It feels great to laugh at the awkward situations us “celiacs” encounter.
I also had a good laugh when I found t-shirts from CeliacCutie.com that say “Dear Gluten, we are never ever getting back together” and “When life gives you a cookie, RUN!”
Life’s too short to take it so seriously! It’s okay to laugh at yourself and the situation. It honestly feels empowering.
Let Family & Friends Know Your Go-To’s
Lastly, a huge way to help yourself out is to let your friends and family know some of those favorite brands you’ve discovered. Nothing is worse than visiting family and realizing you don’t have any gluten free options for miles. I’ve learned to always keep some snacks on hand when traveling, but in situations when I am rushing out the door and forget, it’s so great to have a parent or in-laws know the type of products I like to eat and to be able to have some of these ready to go for me.
It also isn’t fun if you can’t participate in a group dinner because nothing on the “menu” fits your dietary needs. Most of the time friends and family genuinely want to provide options, but they aren’t educated on what gluten even is. By teaching them and guiding them, they’ll become experts and help ease any stress associated with dining at their place.