“No, that was it. I just dreamed I ate a Pop-tart and it didn’t make me sick.”
Happy Going-Gluten-Free Anniversary to me!
This year marks my 6th anniversary of no wheat and no gluten.
I haven’t had a decent piece of pie, or a Pop-tart, since.
The price I pay for health and wellness.
I have always been a skinny, skinny person.
Vanity-wise, I can’t say that I minded.
Health-wise, not so much.
It’s hard to be fragile.
I never had to do anything to be skinny- I ate anything and everything and rarely exercised.
Want to know my secret?
Undiagnosed celiac disease.
Yep, the more I ate, the more malnourished I became because when people with celiac disease eat gluten—so all those Little Debbie snack cakes and McDonald’s fries I was inhaling—it damages the lining of their intestines, which causes an inability to absorb nutrients. Since I didn’t figure that out until I was 20, I had two decades worth of damage going on.
Sure I was skinny. But I was also starving.
Now I know better, so I do better.
There is only one treatment for celiac disease, and so you have to take it seriously: No more gluten. Not even a little bit.
P.S. That little bit hides out in everything from Chapstick brand lip balm to chicken broth.
Once I figured out where all the gluten was lurking in my diet and cut it out, something else happened too: I’m not the same kind of skinny anymore, but I don’t care.
In fact, I’m really glad not to be.
Weight is such a hard thing to talk about with pretty much anyone, so I’m not going to talk about this in terms of the scale or the size on my jeans.
When I was celiac-skinny, I was breakable.
Malnourishment is no joke. Everything about you becomes brittle. You feel tired and like a strong gust of wind will blow you over.
Now that I know what is safe for me to eat, I know what it’s like to not feel that way. I know what it is like to feel full, to feel satisfied, to feel nourished.
Eating food that my body can use as fuel makes me feel alive.
It’s a weird thing to say, but I didn’t feel that way—alive—so much before.
Now I eat grilled chicken on salad and my head feels clear and awake and ready to put coherent sentences together.
I get my burger lettuce-wrapped, eat actual potatoes cut into fries, and think twice about dipping it all in BBQ sauce (#HiddenGluten).
Some part of me will never, ever get over not being able to eat Toaster Strudels any more. (Someone needs to invent good gluten free pastry dough STAT.)
But the majority of me is perfectly ok with it.
I am really happy that Gluten-Free living has skyrocketed in popularity recently. I know some celiacs get cranky because when it’s treated like a fad and not a serious medical condition, accidental gluten-izing can occur. (DO NOT JUST PICK THE CRUTON BITS OUT OF MY SALAD. I need a new, non-contaminated one, please & thank you.) I am cranky about that too, and don’t eat out much (or ever) for that reason.
But I am super glad that the regular grocery store started stocking crackers I can eat.
I’m also super glad that someone invented this, so that I don’t have to continue pining for my Little Debbie snack cake days of yore:
Although, beware, this sucker has THREE TIMES more sugar per serving than the “real thing.”
Eating gluten-free, being a celiac, has become just as much a part of my identity the last 6 years as anything else. Just like some people are “foodies” because they eat squid ink served over a delicate sampling of blowfish (#TotallyJustMadeThatUp), I am a “foodie” because I have developed a cultured palate of all things gluten-free. I’m a gluten-free pasta snob. I make my own salad dressing. I have Deep Thoughts and Strong Opinions about which gluten-free cake mixes are edible and which ones taste like sawdust.
Happily, taking care of my celiac-diseased insides has meant good things for me healthwise all around. Now that I am properly fueled, the rest of my bodily systems have decided to perk up and start working. It’s like I was stuck in one of those “You’re not you when you’re hungry” Snickers commercials and I’m finally free.
Are you gluten-free, Chronic reader? If so, don’t you feel better now? Me too ❤
Want to hear from someone else about what it’s like to be gluten-free? Check out my friend Brittany’s blog! She’s A Southern Celiac: http://asouthernceliac.com/category/gluten-free-2/