After months or even years of unexplained symptoms like brain fog, lethargy, anemia, gas, bloating, loose teeth, hair loss, stomach cramps after eating, malformed bowels multiple times a day or no movements at all, finally you see the right doctor who administers the right test which comes back positive: you have celiac.
So you’re diagnosed. Now what?
Most likely, you begin the process of eliminating gluten from your life. Maybe you feel sad, even a little depressed eliminating some of your favorite foods. Worse, after a few weeks you still don’t feel well. Now you start bargaining: maybe I’ll only eat semolina pasta once a week and I could still get better, right? Fingers crossed? Nope. That won’t work.
After 38 years of illnesses, some of them explained but most of them unexplained, Gluten-Free Girl and blogger Shauna James Ahern was finally diagnosed with celiac disease. Her book, published this month, details her journey: after a lifetime of illness she is now able to say YES to a future of wellness. And there’s no cheating necessary because what she’s found is even better. Really.
Specifically, she has some excellent advice for those who are just beginning the process of healing:
"Involve your friends and family in your diagnosis". Allow the people in your life to know how to help feed you. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes the understanding of friends and family to help heal any illness.
"Avoid cross-contamination in your kitchen". Throw away the cutting boards, give away your old toaster [glutinous crumbs lurk everywhere], make separate containers for GF goods that are clearly labeled so the household knows.
"Make food from scratch". Shauna reminds us food in its purest simplest form doesn’t have gluten; boxed chicken broth does. “Take the time to do it right”, she says.
"Be mindful". I love this suggestion, and it’s useful for so many areas of one’s life. In this case, Shauna reminds us it is a luxury to pick food off the shelves and not examine it for gluten. One must be a detective all the time. As someone with allergies, I can tell you I learned this very early on, including international names for the foods to which I am highly allergic.
To that end, "only use a packaged product if it says gluten-free". Seriously.
"Don’t cheat". This is especially difficult if you’re asymptomatic but vital to regaining your health.
"Own your diagnosis", accept it and everyone around you will too.
Want to know more? I know you do. You can find Shauna blogging here most days and you can find her book here.
Say YES to life, love, to food, to health!