I would like to share with you my story of becoming gluten-free. This is a bit lengthy, but I really hope it might give you some hope for yourself or someone you care about. After many years of feeling unhealthy, getting very sick along with having major intestinal problems, I was finally diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Looking back through many years paints a clear picture of what was going on in my body. My family pictured above has been my biggest advocate during this journey. They all care about me, love me so well, and encourage me on a daily basis. Being gluten-free takes constant effort and a loving, understanding family makes it that much easier.
After a very long struggle of trying to figure out what was going on, I became gluten-free in 2005 and am so grateful I no longer suffer from debilitating symptoms. Prior to that, it was going to multiple doctors, having severe stomach pain, vomiting/diarrhea, passing out, lower pelvic pain, wrist pain that I and doctors thought was carpel tunnel syndrome. Surgery was even recommended. During the night or first thing in the morning, I was unable to move my wrists or fingers. My arms would be numb from the elbow down. I could not even pick up my phone or turn on my nightstand lamp because my fingers and hands wouldn’t work. Eating out in a restaurant for a birthday family dinner resulted in me being in the bathroom for about half of the evening. The ride home was me racing into a gas station parking lot to fly into the bathroom. I just didn’t know what was wrong with me! And how was I going to figure it out? It was so frustrating to feel so bad which was pretty much all of the time now.
After having an ultrasound for the pelvic pain, which showed nothing, I was referred to a Gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy. I was in my 40’s at that point. Symptoms had been evident since before I was a teenager. I relayed to the Gastroenterologist what my symptoms were and were so hopeful for an answer. After the colonoscopy, he assured me I was fine “there is nothing wrong with you” and to “just take a couple of Imodium AD every day”. Well, to me that was just a band-aid. How was I ever going to diagnose myself? At that point, I had never even heard of gluten or celiac. A dear friend had begun a gluten-free (GF) diet due to intolerance and gave me some information to read about the effects of gluten intolerance. That was the turning point for me because it completely described me! She was the lifesaver I needed and gave me so many answers to my unending questions. I am forever grateful that the Lord made her presence in my life at that point. It was so freeing, encouraging, and motivating to finally have answers. It can be a long process of trial and error finding delicious and normal-tasting gluten-free foods. Not to mention the expense! I personally know how extremely discouraging and overwhelming it is when you begin to eat gluten-free. I was fortunate to have some help on what was a lengthy and sometimes frustrating journey. There really are some delicious GF foods out there and I am looking forward to passing those finds on to you.
The emotions that are experienced are similar to a roller coaster ride. The high point is when the symptoms and sickness subside. The low point is when you get sick and try to figure out how it happened because you were being so careful. The exhilarating part is when the people who you are surrounded by understanding because they have asked genuinely caring questions and actually prepare food that you can eat as well because it’s gluten-free! Or they jump in at a restaurant and inform the server the reason I am ordering gluten-free or being particular is that it’s due to an “allergy” because that’s what gets the red flag and gloves changed. Believe me, those of us with gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease would much rather eat what is on an all-you-can-eat-buffet without a care in the world. I really miss that Asian Buffet. Do you know the one with a bazillion choices? But it’s all good because I’m not sick anymore!
After becoming gluten-free I would then have to bring my own food to someone’s home for dinner because of their unawareness of Celiac Disease or gluten. Eating at a restaurant often resulted in me feeling left out or high maintenance when speaking to the server or manager. I would often excuse myself from the table just to spend some time alone hanging out in the restroom after the bread basket was delivered to the table. It gave some time for the bread basket to get empty and that warm, yeasty smell to go away. It was sad to no longer be able to enjoy regular, gluten-filled food. For my entire life, eating has always been more of an event to me. I loved bread, especially if it was made that morning in an Italian Bakery. I loved the texture, hearing the crusty crust when cutting through the loaf, the softness of the inside, and the smell! Great pizza and pasta dishes ranked up there as well. Those foods were from the Italian influence I had growing up in Upstate New York. Preparing food for loved ones has always been an act of love to me. It still is. Navigating around GF foods has become so much easier.
Gluten-free products and what restaurants have to offer now have come a long way from when I had to begin eating gluten-free. There is no cheating when you have Celiac Disease. It’s an autoimmune disease that must be taken very seriously. People and restaurants are beginning to have a better understanding of what gluten is. Hopefully, we can begin to educate more on what cross-contamination and Celiac Disease mean. There are so many easy gluten-free alternatives, whether it’s a new recipe or something new on a menu that satisfies my appetite and appeases my stomach, intestines, and body now. I can’t wait to share these treasures with you. Allow me to help you a little bit as you figure out a new gluten-free lifestyle. The gluten-free recipes and foods/products on this blog have all been taste-tested by me. Before beginning a gluten-free diet, you should discuss the dietary change with your health care provider.
Take a few minutes to click around my blog to check out the gluten-free unexpected discoveries and yumminess I have found along the way. I hope sharing these with you will help you along the GF journey for yourself or your loved one.