This week's email struck a little nerve. They sent the infographic below:
|Eating pizza like a normal kid back before I was diagnosed.|
|Snacking on some naturally gluten free goodness!|
|I'm pretty sure this photo was taken after I'd gone to the hospital for what they thought was appendicitis but which turned out to be just a really terrible stomachache, probably from gluten. (Before diagnosis)|
Even though I've had Celiac my entire adult life, I can see how I have to live differently than others in ways people often take for granted. The truth is, I don't consciously often think about my life with Celiac, even though I think about Celiac almost daily.
If we're going to try a new restaurant, I look up the menu online to see if I can eat anything there. I avoid certain types of food - like Chinese takeout - entirely. I eat before events - like friends' weddings or the Triumph event I was invited to speak at in March - because I never know if I'll be able to have what's served.
|Delicious-looking flan-style mousse at the Triumph event...safe to eat, or nah?|
My purse is always full of snacks for that reason!
I never feel like I can be spontaneous and go to a non-English speaking country because I'm too afraid I'll end up eating food I can't have. When I chose to study abroad in college, there were two main factors in my country of choice: can I speak the language and therefore eat safely, and were people I knew going.
|Scotland was the right choice because they had gluten free options all over the place...and kilts!|
I will say, though, that Celiac is not all-consuming. It does not "invade" every aspect of my life. That's a sad way to live. Yes, reading labels and asking about ingredients is second-nature to me, and Celiac itself comes up almost-daily in conversation with my family...
|"Anchor down for Italian restaurants with over 15 gluten free options for my friends who are physically unable to consume gluten!!!"|
These days I know lots of people who have Celiac, but growing up it was just me and my sister. It's kind of fun to be able to trade expertise with friends now...back in the day, tasting GF food was expensive and often disgusting.
|It's honestly amazing to me how many GF baking options we can find at the normal grocery store these days.|
Anyway, the best thing Celiac has done for me is make me an adventurous eater. If I can eat something, I will try it at least once.
I wracked my brain for my own "what I wish people knew about Celiac" and I think it's this:
The gluten free fad has been a double-edged sword, and I just wish people were more aware that the condescension for people who eat gluten free can be harmful for those of us who need to be able to trust ingredient lists and labels when shopping and servers and chefs when we eat out.