4 years ago today I was diagnosed with celiac disease. It's been a bumpy road since that day, there was no miraculous recovery and I still struggle with some of the symptoms. 4 long years later I look back and see that so much of my life has changed. Having celiac disease has brought me a lot of frustrations but also a lot of joy. I say that celiac disease is one of the most important things that has ever happened to me, because that is true. My disease shapes my each and everyday, and I can truthfully say 4 years later, that it has shaped it for the better.
I'm celebrating today because getting diagnosed with celiac disease has sent me on a healthier path. Where I can control my symptoms through diet, which at times is frustrating, but I know i'm lucky to be able to control my illness through food and not dangerous medications or painful treatments. I'm also celebrating because I wanted an excuse to make (ok eat) cupcakes. So what have I learned about the gluten free life these past 4 years?
Don't let others make you feel guilty or different
Unfortunately in this world being different sometimes means dealing with hurtful comments. These comments really bothered me at the beginning. I would find myself justifying my diet to almost complete strangers. After going on diet that is even more strict and eliminating most grains and dairy I found that I was met with more ridicule and questions. What i've learned recently was really how to stop caring about what others thought. I think this is something that a lot of young people especially care about is how others see you.
People may tell you, “oh you can eat that” or “just one bite wont hurt you.” But for me, my response is “yes, one bite actually will hurt me.”
Having your health allows you to be a better friend, better spouse or better co-worker, so don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for making a choice that allows you to be the best possible version of yourself! Stand your ground and let that slice of chocolate cake pass right on by.
Sadly, I can’t ship my disease off in a suitcase to Antarctica while I go vacation on a tropical island, wouldn't that be awesome! I can’t tell you how many times I have wished that I could just take a day off from celiac disease and stuff my face with any food my little heart desired.
With celiac disease there are no cheat days or end of the diet so staying 100% consistent is the only way to go. What I mean by staying consistent is with your healthy diet. I know that I feel a lot better when i'm eating a strictly healthy diet but if you follow me on instagram you know that I have major, never seems to die sweet tooth that's rather relentless. So i'm all about having a treat here and there. I always make them myself from scratch and try to use only healthy ingredients. Making daily healthy habits has really given me the freedom to live a healthy happy life.
Focus on joy and remember your emotions
In the past few years i've really tried to focus on positivity. Having an autoimmune disease or any chronic condition is hard! and the negativity of it all can consume you if you let it. Find things that make you happy like for me cuddling my cat, making home cooked meals, watching the bachelorette (ok this season isn't that good..), and taking bubble baths. Focusing on the little things that bring you joy despite all the hard obstacles that we are all faced with is really the key to better health. Remember to fill your days with happiness, because happy people are healthy people.
Spend time with those you love
Surround yourself with people who love you despite your health condition. Celiac Disease is consuming—constantly reading ingredient lists and thinking about gluten at every meal and also the emotional component. Having people that support and understand what you are going through will help you thrive! Having people that encourage you when you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed can make all the difference in the world. My boyfriend has supported me though out all of my years of sickness, he eats all my gluten free meals without ever once complaining and he never makes me feel guilty when i'm sick and we have to cancel our plans. I love him dearly for it and am so thankful for his support and love every day! I'll could go on but I won't bore you with our love story. So get out there and tell your story, build your community! Having love in your life will make living with a chronic illness infinitely easier.
I've learned that acceptance comes with time and that there will be good days and bad days but my diagnosis gave me my life back and i'm grateful for that.
What has being gluten free taught you?