My celiac disease diagnosis has been a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I am finally out of pain and I feel so much better. A curse because it is hard to make sure no gluten enters your body - NOT EVER!! I pretty much avoid going out to eat any more. Most people view the whole gluten free thing as a fad diet and I have had people roll their eyes at me a time or two as I ordered my food. Once a manager of a Rubio's practically yelled at me and told me everything on the menu was gluten free. (It's totally not by the way). Gluten is everywhere and it's quite a chore to avoid it. I can't eat something if it even touches gluten. It's that serious. Even most shampoos have gluten in them. While gluten doesn't go through the skin, it does get in your mouth when you wash your hair.
When I do get gluten in my system, my small intestine gets attacked. If you wonder why people with celiacs are so annoying with the whole diet thing, you can learn more here. Not only do I struggle with anemia, and a damaged small intestine makes that worse, but my joints will ache. I get anxiety. My scalp develops a rash, I experience significant hair loss, and of course, my stomach hurts. Sounds like fun, right? Not worth just one bite of that donut or pizza... trust me.
One of the most difficult parts of eating very carefully now, is that I like to bake. I like to decorate cakes and cookies. I love all breads and baked goods. Dang. Even more than actually eating them myself, I really just liked to make yummy things for people I love. Friends and family. It has been a really difficult journey mentally as I have so many emotions attached to food. Cinnamon rolls on a rainy day, the smell of the pies at Thanksgiving. Hot rolls at Easter. And traveling and eating out were so much fun. I really enjoyed trying new things. Trying the best thing on the menu. When in Hawaii, I heard about a passionfruit donut, and of course I had to partake. And it was pretty dang good too.
I have leaned so much over the last few years. I learned about the need to heal my gut. I learned that going gluten free wasn't enough to really feel better. I will save that for another post. But I have had to learn a new normal. Holidays need to be enjoyed and celebrated in new ways. Instead of focussing on the yummy pies, I have had to learn to focus on family, and friendships. Slowing down and enjoying whats around me. I have had to learn to serve my family in different ways. I can still make yummy food, but now the focus is on nutrient density, instead of sugary sweet. I am learning to respect food and my body in a whole new way.
I am growing. I am leaning. I am changing. I like to think that this journey of life is helping me be a better person. While I resist change, I know change is not bad. It teaches me compassion and in so many ways, helps me connect with other people.
Life is good. Even without the gluten.