Lately, I’ve had to fight for my health. It’s not in the same way as a cancer patient or terminally ill patient, but it’s a fight about choices. Over two years ago I began cutting out gluten and I bounced around like a bouncy ball, building up speed to rush through my favorite gluten-filled piece of cake and delicious pull-a-part bread made by my mother-in-law. I was in Heaven around the holidays, but I suffered from horrible migraines, irritability and weakness for weeks. What was going on? God knew and He had already started leading me down the path of figuring out what was going on.
Fast forward a few years to this past December. I began meeting people at church who were gluten intolerant, had Celiac disease or took care of family members with the disease. I filed these conversations in the back of my mind until after the holidays. Unfortunately, I repeated the same cycle and completely regretted it. On December 27, 2014 I decided to take controll. I avoided all things containing gluten and felt empowered. I checked out Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s book The G-Free Diet from the library and read it in two days. It was almost as though she was telling me my own story with the weird symptoms she had dealt with and the trigger of going overseas and winding up with a weird stomach bug.
Staying gluten free is actually the easy part, but I still fight aspects every day. I have such a sweet tooth and although I love the idea of gluten free cake mixes, a box costs around [cost] and I only want a taste! The next best thing is gluten free candy, my favorite is [name] licorus. Here’s where it gets even more complicated. I’ve noticed that my body pretty much hates processed sugar and even certain processed foods. I’m still learning exactly how this is playing out.
What Do I Eat?
So what do I eat? There are SO many products that are naturally gluten free, such as fruit, vegetables, salsa (favorite is Chi-Chi’s), almond milk, Silk yogurt, meat, etc. Staying gluten free requires eliminating the foods that harm my body, but I have to find one that offers the same nutrition (or better) to build my body back up. This is exhausting! One of my absolute go-to snacks are Quest bars. These are completely gluten free, loaded with nutrients and taste amazing. They fulfill my craving for something sweet while filling me up when I’m in a pinch – out of a staple (eggs), unexpected errand, accidentally forget to pack a snack. They cost between $2.49 – $2.99, but you can also purchase a case on Amazon for $24.99.
Have I Been Diagnosed with Celiac Disease?
The simple answer is no. It’s really hard to find a doctor who understands all the symptoms of Celiac Disease who can properly diagnose it. One of the common tests is called the gluten challenge. This would require stuffing myself with gluten for three to six months and then keeping track of how my body responds. Invasive procedures, such as an endoscopy, requires having gluten in my system. Sorry, but this absolutely will not happen! Why would I put something in my body knowing it’s going to make me sick? I’m on a road to recovery and have started finding nutritionists, connecting with other people suffering from Celiac Disease and have learned how to live gluten free. Someday I believe there will be a test available that doesn’t require having gluten in my body, but that test doesn’t exist today.
Filtering Out the Noise
A mental fight I had with myself was how to tell my family. My husband has been with me every step and my daughter is too young to fully comprehend what Celiac disease is (except that we can’t share her pancakes anymore). I prayed for the right words and understanding if they responded skeptically, but I had absolutely no reason to worry. They embraced me and continued doing what they had done a along – they brought gluten free food when they visited and my mother-in-law had even found gluten free candy for me for Christmas. My experience may not be your experience, so be prepared for people who may doubt what you are saying and make the choice to turn on your filter. This doesn’t mean you need to cut out your parents or best friend, but look for people to talk with who understand what gluten sensitivity is and even Celiac disease.
Looking back I can see how God began directing my steps towards a gluten free and dairy free lifestyle over two years ago. He is the almighty healer and knows exactly what my body needs to heal, so I will continue taking my questions to Him and letting Him bring the right information and right people into my life who want to help.