Photo Cred: Ed Gregory
First, I’m sorry.
Not because eating gluten free is bad, but I’m sure it wasn’t an easy journey to get to this point. I know because it wasn’t an easy journey for me. I had months of not feeling well, knowing something was off, and feeling frustrated that doctors hadn’t figured out the cause, before I was told it was Celiac Disease. This can be even more frustrating for someone who has a gluten intolerance. I made the choice to reach out to a GI specialist early on, which I believe helped me get diagnosed much fast than other cases I have heard.
At first I felt relieved. Finally an answer! My second thought was what the heck is Celiac Disease and gluten?!? I did some research, educated myself, and then…. I freaked out.
But wheat (and rye, barley, oats) is in everything! Ev-er-ry-thing! No bagels. BAGELS!!!!!! Or doughnuts, or delicious pizza, or mac and cheese. Dear God, no mac and cheese?!?
And finally, beer. Beloved, refreshing, good at noon or midnight, BBQs, football games, because it’s 3:30 and I’ve had a hard day, beer. I was diagnosed with Celiac Dlsease when I was 23, so as you can imagine, this was a main staple in my diet.
So I freaked out.
- Then I realized it meant that I could change the way I feel. I no longer had to battle migraines, stomach issues (we will just be polite about this), my hair and nails getting weak and brittle, nausea, and a fear of leaving my home because I might get sick at any time.
- I realized it meant that I had to be an advocate for myself when I dine out, eat at a friends house, attend a wedding, or travel. But when has being an advocate for yourself ever been a bad thing?
- I also realized that there were a lot of great gluten free options out there (with a lot of trial and error), and there are more options coming out each day.
- There are now options for gluten free beer, decent pizza, crackers, bread, cake, pasta,etc. * I’m still searching for a bagel that tastes like a bagel should. Have any of you other GF friends found a bagel that was amazing? Let me know!
Finally, I realized that by sticking to a gluten free diet, I can not only feel better now, but save myself from some awful long-term effects later in life. If the choice is between not eating gluten every day OR eating gluten and possibly getting cancer, struggling with infertility, becoming malnourished, and developing another autoimmune disease, I think the answer is pretty easy.
Need some great resources?
- Celiac.org , or the Celiac Disease Foundation was one of the first places I landed in my search, and I am glad it was. They have a plethora of information on Celiac Disease, gluten sensitivity, tips on what to do once you have diagnosed, and a gluten free/allergy free marketplace.
- Whole Foods. I literally went to Whole Foods with my parents the same day I had my endoscopy confirming my diagnosis. Maybe not the best idea in hindsight, but I was excited to try all the gluten free options out there! They have an aisle dedicated to gluten free foods, and they do a wonderful job of labeling all of their products for ingredients.
- Central Market. If you live in Texas, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s like Whole Foods and HEB grocery stores made a magical, beautiful baby. They have a decent selection of gluten free foods and tend to carry a great selection of GF beers and ciders.
- Gluten Free for Dummies. Yes, I totally bought this book. If you are feeling super overwhelmed at first, this will walk you through step by step on how to start living a healthier, gluten free life. It covers cross-contamination, what to look for in label reading, and recipe ideas for beginners.
- GF Jules Flour. This is by far one of the best, if not the best, gluten free all purpose flour out there. It’s a little pricey, but I have found that I can use it pretty much cup for cup in both GF and traditional recipes. She also sells mixes for faster baking. Her recipe section has videos as well for easier step by step instructions.