Due to a series of unfortunate (and drawn out) events, I found out a while back that I have Celiac’s Disease. For those of you that are unfamiliar, this means I can’t eat anything that contains or has come into contact with any wheat, barley, or rye, collectively known as “gluten”. Yes, that means no beer. Yes, it also means I’ve been cast away from my favorite and most delicious friend, pizza (although I’ve found some decent gluten-free substitutes for both).
You all might wonder where this leads me? To the gluten-free isle of the health food section at Hy-Vee, tears just rolling down my face, with nothing but vegetables in my shopping cart. “Is this how I die? From starvation?”, I think to myself. It’s really too bad that none of this came with a manual.
So, how’d this all begin?
About two years ago, I began having terrible migraines. I had loads of testing done with no real answers. I was put on medication that had terrible side effects and didn’t help me much. After lots of medication changes I was finally able to feel like a human again- most of the time. I started to develop this really weird rash after meals occasionally and then began to develop stomach pain and cramping, tachycardia (fast hart rate), trouble sleeping, and severe fatigue. I spent about a year’s time very uncomfortable and more than confused. I finally began keeping a food journal, had quit drinking alcohol, and was eating close to a completely plant based diet just trying to be the least miserable I could be.
Even with the food journal, I wasn’t able to draw clear lines between what might have been causing my problems. It was my boyfriend who finally suggested gluten as the culprit. “You’re ridiculous”, I teased. As time went on, though, it began to make sense. I stopped eating gluten and the headaches, rashes, and all the other symptoms resolved. I called my doctor with all of this information and the nurse said “just avoid gluten then, you should be fine”. I said, “shouldn’t I have some kind of testing to verify? Shouldn’t I have it on my record, officially?” “no” she said, “you should be fine”. As I spoke with my boyfriend’s sister who is a dietician, I found out that if it did need to be verified, I’d have to re-introduce gluten into my diet and then eat it for SIX WEEKS. No thanks. I called the doctor’s office back and made an appointment to have my blood drawn and see the doctor. He said he believed clinically I had some intolerance but the blood work would prove if I had an allergy.
I received news of my allergy shortly after and we discussed a few options of where to find some educational materials. For me, this was a fairly new disease that I knew little about. I didn’t know anyone with this dietary restriction at this point and I surely didn’t know all of the sneaky places gluten could hide. Unfortunately, I went through months of avoiding most foods (and eating out) for fear of feeling ill.
Luckily, I’ve learned a whole lot in a little time and am back to being able to eat the right things without too much fear and without generally having to suffer any consequences from it. If you or anyone you know has a gluten allergy or intolerance and you ever have questions or would like to talk, please don’t hesitate to speak with me!
Does anyone out there have any dietary restrictions that they have or have chosen for themselves? It seems that our lives and entertainment kind of revolve around food (at least in the U.S.). How have these dietary restrictions affected your lives?
Thanks for reading! Hope you’re having a great week!