Well, friends, it’s been a year. Exactly one year ago today I received my Celiac diagnosis. And I thought at that moment my life had ended. And it honestly felt like it had for quite some time. But I made it through (and I’m still making it through), and I’m better for it. My diagnosis, and the subsequent lifestyle change, has certainly made all the difference. While my life is the same in so many ways as it was before, it’s changed dramatically as well.
1.) I now read EVERY food label. You don’t realize how much gluten is in EVERYTHING we eat until you can’t eat it anymore. It hides everywhere in plain sight – pasta sauce, Twizzlers, granola bars, potato chips, salad dressing, marinades … – and I’ve got to be super-diligent to avoid unknowingly ingesting it. Grocery shopping has never been more challenging. It only takes one unexpected glutening to ruin your weekend and make you be a label-obsessed shopper.
2.) I research every restaurant. And go to the same five over and over again. Once I find a restaurant that I can eat at safely, I stick to it. It’s so much easier than trying something new and potentially getting sick. I’ve found local restaurants that run the gamut of cuisine, so JD and I have options. But we’re pretty comfortable in our rut. And when we want to try something new? I research their website with a fine toothed-comb and make phone calls to find out just how gluten-free they are.
3.) I’ve had more baking fails than every before. I used to love to bake, but converting recipes to gluten-free is much more challenging that a simple one-to-one conversion (even though there are GF flours out there that proclaim this!). Different flours – rice, coconut, corn – weigh differently from wheat flour, so making a simple substitution often leads to disaster. Well, maybe not disaster, but definitely less-than-edible results. GF baking is much easier if you weigh your ingredients. I’ve discovered this the hard way. And have tortured JD’s tastebuds in the process.
4.) Traveling has lost some of it’s luster. I used to LOVE to travel and explore new places. And one of my primary enjoyments while traveling was eating. Most of my vacations were planned around where and and when I was eating. Now, with my dietary restrictions, I’m much more hesitant to venture out and explore the unknown. I’m afraid of going hungry. Or worse, getting sick.
5.) I’ve felt healthier and heavier than I ever have before. This one is a double-edged sword. I feel healthy, and that’s awesome. I sleep all the way through the night, and I don’t wake up feeling exhausted and worn down. I have energy to move and do things. I no longer eat Tums like candy. But, on the flipside, once my body started actually processing the nutrients I was ingesting, I started to gain weight. Unfortunately, I’m at one of my heaviest points ever. But, that’s okay. I’m healthy again and have already started getting fit and active again. And, honestly, I’d rather be a little heavy and 100% healthy than thinner and sicker.
6.) I’ve become “that” person. I’m the person who has to have special food and special preparations. I’m the person that my parents need to accommodate when I go home. I’m the person who, even though it’s a medical condition, makes life a little bit more challenging for everyone around me. I know that if I had diabetes or heart disease, I wouldn’t feel nearly as guilty about my needs. But, given all the hubub and controversy surrounding celiac and gluten free fads, I do feel guilty asking for special treatment. And, occasionally, that guilt manifests itself as self-entitlement. I try to keep it in check, but just yesterday I made some snippy little comment about what I could and couldn’t eat. I hate that about myself. I try to remember that people have good intentions and wouldn’t consciously exclude me from meals or make me sick, but my attitude sometimes sneaks out.
The last year has had it’s ups and downs. The ups were finding awesome gluten-free options like Sugarland to make me happy. The downs? Sneak-attack glutening on birthdays. But I’m learning. And getting better at management and prevention. I’ve learned more about my body and have become a stronger self-advocate. I hope Year 2 of Celiacs gets me back into baking with greater success and more deliciousness!