What I Learned When Going Gluten Free

A few months ago, I had to go gluten free. This was very hard for me partly because I love me some good bread!!! Now a little back story then on to what I’ve learned.

In November 2011, I mentioned some tummy trouble to my doctor at an annual doctor’s visit. The doctor ordered some tests, nothing unusual so nothing was done.

The following year, things were exponentially worse. I had lost 35 pounds and the tummy troubles were constant. I mentioned the recent leaving of my estranged husband and the significant amount of stress that was causing me. The doctor was concerned and referred me to a gastroenterologist after the same tests as the previous year yielded the same results.

Once I finally got into the gastroenterologist, he recommended a rather uncomfortable procedure to rule out some things. Those things ruled out, he recommended another procedure- an upper endoscopy, as well as LOTS of lab work.

The upper endoscopy and lab work all yielded the same results. By the end of June 2013, I had been officially diagnosed with Celiac Disease. This means (basically) gluten free or be miserable. (A simple Internet search will tell what Celiac is, or look here http://www.celiac.org/index.php?option=com_content&id=3&Itemid=9 .) I had to go gluten free. I had to do it now and it has to be this way forever.

I MUST confess… though the doctor had put me on a gluten free diet in May, once I received that diagnosis, I mourned gluten. I went through and made a mental list of my favorite foods and snacks I could no longer eat – NOT counting bread! Cream of mushroom chicken – gone! Red Vines (and other licorice) – gone! Most drinks from Starbucks – gone! Cake, cupcakes and cakepops – gone! Yes, there are gluten free versions of some of these foods, but they do NOT taste the same. At all. I know (because I made some myself) that they don’t have any un-natural ingredients, but they taste like they are full of chemicals.

In the first couple of weeks, as I went to gatherings at friends houses and realized that the only food out that I could safely eat was the fruit. And at that – if a little kid grabbed something I couldn’t have and dropped crumbs on said fruit – not even the fruit was safe for me! Some people were not understanding and thinking this is a simple allergy. It’s not an allergy. I can’t take a pill and feel better. Every time I consume gluten, part of my small intestine is literally killed off. Yes, it re-grows, but that growth take anywhere from 2-6 months. And every time I consume gluten, I’m increasing my risk for a host of other things including cancer.

Here are the things I learned.

*Sometimes, when someone doesn’t understand what you have been diagnosed with, they will lash out instead of asking. I had to learn a quick and simple way to explain Celiac and once I did, people started understanding and even asking questions.

*I don’t expect people to accommodate me for meals. If I am invited out to eat and I can’t eat at that restaurant (some refuse to accommodate a special diet, I’ve found), I will just order a soda and enjoy the company. I try to eat before or after.

*ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS have a snack with me. I keep fruit leather, almond bars (gluten free, of course!) or other beef jerky in my purse at ALL times! There have been times where I’m out all day and there has been nothing I can eat. Sure I can drive through the golden arches and grab a dollar Coke (my fave!), but there is nothing I can eat quickly (or for under $6 – hey! I’m cheap!) from a drive thru while on the go! I tend to opt for protein (nuts, jerky) as it will fill me for longer.

*Don’t eat the cracker during communion at church!!! OUCH!! That is all!! My mom suggested I take a piece of rice cake if I know they are serving communion! Good idea, mom!

*Be patient with people. Until the day I was told I “might” have Celiac, I had never heard of it.

So, that’s what I’ve learned so far. My hope is that I can use my journey with Celiac to help others in a similar place and all for the Glory of God!

About Alicia

Alicia is a Jesus loving, homeschooling, mini-van driving, food loving, gluten-free-cuz-I-have-to-be, fun loving, choir mamaing, bike riding, So Cal born and raised solo mama to 2 amazing kiddos with 3 cats, a ginormous dog and the 2 cutest nieces ever! She had a deep passion for cooking and baking that left with her Celiac disease diagnosis in 2013, but has now returned as she experiments with and tests recipes to make them delicious and enjoyable even without the gluten! You can find all sorts of random thoughts, ideas and whatever else pops into her completely random mind right here at Big Black Trash Bag!
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