When I found out I had celiac disease I felt so relieved… finally I had an answer on why I felt so bad always! I was so excited to be gluten free because that meant I would feel great. Although relieved, I was also extremely stressed out because I started learning it was not as easy as I thought it would be. If I could go back and give myself five helpful tips that would have made the transition easier they would be:
This is going to be a lifelong journey so hold on tight and ride the bumps! Just breathe and stay calm. Stress will make everything worse…literally. Stress reduces your ability to sleep at night and focus during the day; which increases your chances of getting sick.
One of my symptoms when I get glutenized is hair loss. I’m not talking a few strands on my brush, I’m talking handfuls! Naturally that is upsetting and stressful but I learned it’s a vicious cycle. The more I stress, the more my hair falls out. Now I know the drill so I try to stay calm and just breathe! This too shall pass.
Something else to keep in mind… we’re all human and will make mistakes. I know we all try to never get glutenized, but
shit stuff happens people and you can’t get down on yourself and dwell. Learn from your mistakes, move on and continue to breathe!! Once I got glutenzied by using the same microwave where gluten was heated… now I use a new microwave and no gluten is allowed. See…learn and move on!
2. Have a support system
I think this would be the biggest piece of advice I could give. I have the most supportive boyfriend (Erik) and family, which made my transition easier. They literally were with me every step of the way…even removing all gluten from their kitchens! My mom is a nurse and my angel. She went with me and continues to go to all my doctor appointments, would research and explain things to me, and most importantly be my shoulder to cry on when I needed it. I highly recommend having someone to go with you to doctor appointments and be able to vent to.
Where I made a mistake was not letting my friends in about my struggle. I never wanted to burden anyone with my problems or let them know I was having a hard time. By me not opening up made them not ask and think everything was ok when it wasn’t. Friends are there for you during good times and bad, and if you let them know what’s going on you won’t have to end up making excuses on why you can’t eat out with them or why you’re sick in bed. Don’t be like me. Be open. Let people in. Chances are they want to help!
3. Become a label reading expert
The first few months I went gluten free, grocery shopping was such an ordeal… I mean hours! Reading every label and figuring out what to buy. One time I felt sick and retraced everything I ate and apparently I accidentally bought sugar free honey which contains malt! So I learned my lesson to read labels and never did that again… I learned, moved on and kept breathing (see #1).
It will get easier and you’ll become very aware of what to buy. Even if something previously was gluten free, don’t just assume it still is…turn it over and read it! Now I have a rule. I only buy whole foods (fresh fruit, vegetables, chicken, fish, etc…) or items that say gluten free on it. Reading labels and trying to figure out hidden words for gluten made me go crazy.
4. When in doubt, go without!
I think this one needs little explanation. If you’re unsure if it contains gluten or was contaminated just don’t eat it, use it, etc…just don’t!!
5. Start cooking
My celiac journey has brought out the inner cook in me and I love it! People often think gluten free food taste gross…well no, bad food taste gross! And yes, there are some packaged gluten free foods I’ve tasted that aren’t great… so why not make my own!
Let’s face it unless we eat at a 100% gluten free restaurant, we always run the risk of contamination. I’ve gotten sick eating at relatives houses, friends houses, restaurants, etc. even though they said they made me gluten free food. 2 ½ years later I’m finally realizing it’s not worth the risk. Don’t get me wrong I still eat out occasionally at places I’ve never gotten sick ( it’s still taking a chance), but now 90% of the time I cook my own food and bring it with me. Yup, that’s right I bring it with me…to restaurants, parties, holidays, even weddings. If it’s at a restaurant sometimes I call and let them know I’m bringing outside food in, but often times I just walk in with my lunch box and Tupperware. My experience has been everyone is very nice about it and they even bring me a plate so attention isn’t drawn to me.
So… start cooking! I share some of my favorite recipes with you that I eat…let’s cook together!
I hope my tips will help make your life easier! I would love to hear some of yours!!