I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease about 12 years ago. I was undiagnosed with it, and told I just have a wheat allergy about 3 years ago. This opened up a world of opportunities when I had been so limited before.
It’s very obvious when I eat something that I shouldn’t. Within five minutes to an hour I will get very sick from the food I just ate, and I will get sick from everything I eat for up to three days afterward. When I was originally diagnosed with Celiac Disease, the nutritionist gave me three pages of foods that I could no longer eat. I read a lot of books and articles about it too, and although I didn’t get completely gluten-free for two years, mostly due to stubbornness but partly due to not knowing what I could and could not eat, I managed to finally start faithfully following the diet.
Many people choose gluten or wheat-free diets to be healthier. I was not like that! I loved my bread – Grand’s biscuits, garlic bread, pizza, not to mention pasta. Telling me that I had to give up all of my favorite foods did not go over well for me for a while. But I had gotten sick after eating my whole life, and believe me I wasn’t bulimic. In time I realized that the intense pain I had from eating these foods was not worth it.
At first, I hated gluten-free food. I’d look at these boxes that would say, “Gluten-free! And No salt, No dairy, No cholesterol!” and groan. I wanted my salt, dairy and cholesterol. I didn’t want to eat healthier – I just didn’t want to be in pain after eating every day. I’d glare at the cashier when they would ring up a bunch of over-priced food I didn’t want to eat, but I had to eat something.
Eventually, I figured it out. As a young college kid, I learned I couldn’t drink beer, but I could drink tequila. I learned that I couldn’t eat pizza, but I could eat nachos. I learned that I didn’t have to try to cook these complex gluten-free recipes, but could just eat potatoes or rice, vegetables and meat for every meal.
Not having to follow a gluten-free diet anymore has opened up some different food choices, but I’m still cautious. I no longer have the pain threshold I used to have growing up. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what it says on the package, it’s how the food tastes – and I believe my tastes have probably changed after eating gluten-free foods for so long.
I can eat oats, barley and malt now, which means I can go to the grocery store and buy inexpensive Rice Krispies or Fruity Pebbles now, which is a huge treat, and certainly less expensive than eating gluten-free.
Food remains one of my least favorite subjects, but it’s exciting to have a world of new food possibilities open up. Every time I hear someone say, “You can’t eat bread, that’s terrible! I couldn’t live like that!” I smile.
Of course you can.