What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac Disease is an auto-immune disorder that affects 1 in 133 Americans. The body attacks itself, presenting a wide range of symptoms when the binding agent gluten, is ingested. Gluten is most commonly found in wheat, rye, malt, barley, and about 29381242348 other things. If you're interested in learning more about Celiac Disease, I suggest clicking here.
Now, moving away from the science and onto the fun stuff!
So, you've got Celiac, now what?
Don't throw yourself a gluten free pity party, CELEBRATE YOU CELIAC!
How does one "celebrate their Celiac?"
Well, it COULD start by baking a gluten free cake...but baking isn't really my thing
1. Connect with the Gluten Free Community - it is beyond incredible!
Since my diagnosis, I have developed friendships and connections with others that I would have never found in the first place, had it not been for my disease. While having this disease is not always easy, the support and love from others I have received since my diagnosis is what helps me get by when times are tough. There is something incredibly special about being able to bond with others in that moment when you say "me too" over a weird health woe.
How to get connected: instagram, twitter, facebook, blogs, literally all aspects of the internet have ways to connect with others, try searching different terms to find your "niche." Big brands such as Udi's even have community boards, dedicated to the TYPE of Gluten Free you are, and certain cities/towns have Gluten Free Groups to join!
2. Educate Yourself - but don't overwhelm!
After my diagnosis, you know what I asked for? The book, Celiac Disease for Dummies. I read it cover to cover, annotating and highlighting it as if it was one of my college course text books. I am a big advocate of "Knowledge is Power" and I wanted the power to take charge of my disease, not the other way around. Am I a Celiac expert now? Nope! Over two years later and I'm STILL finding out foods I can/can't eat and the weird ways that gluten affects my body. I am a nerd and love reading information and research, so I squeal in excitement when someone clips out an article for me or my mom buys me Simply Gluten Free Magazine. The Internet is a GREAT resource but it can seem daunting and overwhelming as well, which is why I prefer articles and magazines as opposed to the world wide web. IF you are looking for some information overload, check out these:
Celiac Disease Foundation
National Foundation for Celiac
Brand Wesbites such as: Udi's, Schar, GlutenFreeda, Schar
3. Educate Others - to promote understanding and support!
Your disease is not something only YOU have to deal with, but it also effects your loved ones, colleagues, and others that you interact with. Knowledge is power, and the more people who are knowledgeable on your condition, what you can and can't have, the more likely you are going to have positive interactions with others involving food AND the more support you will have. After all, it's tough to support something you don't understand? Inform others so that they can understand and support your condition, instead of writing it off as a "fad"or not taking it seriously. Personally speaking, my family and friends go above and beyond for me, I am so thankful to have their constant support, understanding, and willingness to learn. No one ever makes me feel silly for having to give a "Cross Contamination" speech before meals or for constantly bringing my own food everywhere. Instead, they've joined me on my party of celebrating my Celiac.
Gluten Free Food Safe List
Contain Gluten UNSAFE List
4. Focus on the Positives - being a Negative Nancy won't get you anywhere!
You're going to have to like this forever, you might as well EMBRACE IT. Now, don't get me wrong, I've had my moments before when I just wished that "life was easier" and I could "eat whatever I wanted" and "be normal." In these times of desperation I have cried over chocolate cake and felt sadness over the softness of someone else's sandwich. Were my emotions really only about the food? No, but the inability to have something while everyone else does or the hoops of fire you have to jump through just to be able to go out to eat sometimes become too much, and that inhale of an item everyone else is ingesting that you can't have, brings all those feelings to the surface. So maybe you have a pity party for a moment, BUT THEN YOU NEED TO TAKE THAT PITY PARTY HAT OFF, AND THROW IT IN THE GARBAGE. And while you're throwing it out, throw out your bad attitude as well, cause negativity won't do you any good!
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES!
BE THANKFUL AND GRATEFUL FOR ALL THAT YOU CAN EAT AND CAN DO!
- My mother's ability to transform all my old favorites into a gluten free/lactose free version
- My loved one's quick reaction as I'm about to eat something, "Wait, can you eat that?" because they're worried about the ingredients
- Going through the rest of college with my very own, Gluten Free Advocate, my roommate and best friend who would inquire about ingredients and places for me to eat at, before I even had the chance to!
- All of my instagram and blogger friends I have connected with that share the same struggles as me
- Udi's Bread and Toufayan Wraps
- Pamela's Chocolate Cake Mix
- Wegman's Wellness Keys! Makes shopping a breeze for me!
Check out Taylor, and incredible teen living with Celiac and a life-threatening Adrenal Disease and his #positiveceliac campaign!
5. Embrace your Lifestyle Changes - Newly Diagnosed or Not!
Celiac Disease did two things for me. It helped me become a greater advocate for my own health and forced me to get creative in the kitchen. Prior to my diagnosis, my cooking skills were sub-par, supplemented with Smart Ones Frozen Dinners and anything that came from a box. Now, I LOVE COOKING! It truly has become one of my passions, experimenting with new food ideas and combinations to create meals that are nutritious AND delicious. I am a firm believer that gluten free does not have to equate to taste free! SO, channel your inner chef, or baker, and get started on embracing your new lifestyle, one recipe at a time!
And as for my health issues, I used to keep them more quiet, dealing with my digestive issues often in silence. Celiac Disease allowed me to become more open and share about my struggles with IBS as opposed to keeping them a secret. It gave me the confidence to put my health first, as opposed to what others would think of me. I OPENLY TELL THE WORLD ABOUT MY STOMACH WOES, IRRATE INTESTINES, AND CELIAC, because they are a PART of ME, and something that doesn't need to be kept a secret or something I should feel embarrassed about!
- My Top 5 Phrases I'm Sick of Hearing when People Find Out I have Celiac Disease Ambassador Post on I'm Fit Possible
- Connecting with Calvin, the co-owner of the newly opened, Gluten Free Chef Market and Bakery, and doing a Guest Post
- GOING TO THE GLUTEN FREE EXPO IN CANADA THIS SUNDAY! That's right I'm traveling ALONE over the border in the name of gluten free goodness!
- How will YOU celebrate your Celiac this month?
- Who is your biggest support?
- Do you have a favorite gluten free resource?
- Is there a certain gluten free product or restaurant you're especially thankful for?