What I Would Say To Someone Newly Diagnosed With Celiac Disease
I have been thinking lately about going back in time, only if we could right? Specifically, I have been thinking about the things I would have done differently after being diagnosed with Celiac Disease. If I could go back in time and talk to my newly diagnosed self here are some things I think I would say:
CRY. Cry all the tears, it sucks. Let it all out then come to terms that this is your life now and it's up to YOU to make it the best you possibly can.
GO HOME AND REMOVE ALL TEMPTATIONS. Take it all away, so you don't waste energy on foods you can't eat. Over time you will become stronger and will be okay watching others eat things you can't but for now, remove it.
SIT DOWN with your family and explain the ins and outs of your newly diagnosed disease and how now food will affect your body for the rest of your life. (Here is one I wish I would have done.)
SIT DOWN WITH EXTENDED FAMILY. If you spend a lot of time with your extended family doing this will make family gatherings less uncomfortable for you and them. Explain that the comment "A little bit can't hurt..” or the comment ”just try it and see how you feel” hurts you emotionally and physically because you actually do want to eat it and join in but can't. Explain celiac disease isn't an allergy, trend or a choice its an autoimmune disease and how it affects your body.
READ LABELS! Do not just assume because it looks like it doesn't contain gluten that it's safe to eat. Not reading labels was one of my biggest mistakes for at least the first six months after being diagnosed. Which leads me to my next one.
ASK QUESTIONS at restaurants. Just because it should be "gluten-free" doesn't mean it is, in fact, it probably isn't. Do you know that I ate French Fries for the first year that were cross-contaminated, cooked in the same oil as the fried foods!
ASK FOR SUPPORT. My husband has been phenomenal since day one, but he didn't "really" start speaking up for me until I got terribly sick at a restaurant from cross contamination. It is always uncomfortable to ask the waiter/waitress all the questions you have to. Just make sure you ask the right questions to protect yourself. When your spouse or loved one does it for you it is so liberating and makes going out less overwhelming.
STOP APOLOGIZING. This isn't your fault. I am still learning this one. The new reality is going out to eat with friends or to someone's home is HARD. I still struggle with feelings of guilt when loved ones take the time to care about me and are okay with eating at a certain place so I can eat as well. What I have learned is this; The ones that really care about you won't even hesitate at making sure you are comfortable. So stop apologizing to all the other ones and stick with the ones that make your disease more comfortable to live with. 🥰
BE PREPARED. Food is involved in every single thing we do. You will have special events and different occasions that you won't be able to eat a single thing. It is always a good idea to keep a favorite bar in your purse. Be okay with leaving the event to go grab yourself some food if you need too. Don't do what I do and just go hungry.
Give yourself credit for being strong every day and celebrate the little things. Adapting to your new lifestyle will get easier over time. Life is better when you are healthy. Lastly, you are amazing, and I love you!