Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Celiac awareness month.

This month is Celiac awareness month. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease 9 years ago. I actually have Celiac sprue in which gluten not only attacks my gut but also my skin. Hooray! Celiac is an autoimmune disease and is genetic.

It is NOT an allergy to gluten, a Celiac's body literally cannot process gluten, it attacks us! And the only cure is to go on a gluten free diet. Its not as bad as you think, I always laugh when people exclaim to me "WHAT DO YOU EAT???" I say well the same things you do! But it was hard in the beginning, I won't lie.

It was a tough road. I was still a teenager when I was diagnosed so once I moved away to college and I didn't have mom to feed me and I cheated on my diet a lot. It took it's toll on me. After college I became very sick and the doctors couldn't figure it out. I eventually got better after being diligent on my diet and taking tons of supplements and vitamins. But two years later I again got really sick but luckily this time the doctors finally figured it out, I developed another autoimmune disease, eosinophilic esophagitis. Being that Celiac is an autoimmune disease my immune system is always going to be compromised so during times of high stress on my body it's very easy for me fall sick or even to develop new autoimmune disorders as in this case. Fun. My tummy doctor, as I like to call him, was amazing, and I was one of the lucky 50% who went into remission from eosinophilic esophagitis after being on medication for 6 months.

I haven't intentionally eaten gluten since 2007 and I really don't miss it anymore. I did miss it the first five years (because I was cheating so still couldn't get the loveliness of wheat flour out of my head) but since going completely gluten free and never ever cheating (seriously I haven't even once! my tummy doctor was impressed with how clean my gut was last year! I was pretty proud of myself) I don't miss it at all! I can't even remember what a cookie made with wheat flour tastes like, or what "normal" bread tastes like! There are such amazing gluten free products now, and I've learned how to bake gluten free that I don't need that poison!

If you think you might have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance please don't wait to get tested! I promise it's not that scary! There's a huge community of us out there with recipes and tips and insights to share! 1 in every 133 Americans have Celiac disease, don't be one of those who get misdiagnosed or don't get tested, it can be deadly if you don't (it can result in cancer if not treated) and who wants to go through life with a constant sick stomach and diarrhea and low energy and headaches and who knows what else! not me!

There's much much more to my story than I wrote about, but I hate talking about my health and I don't want to bore you with the details. I just want to encourage those who think they might have Celiac to get tested and those who don't have it please be sensitive. Believe me, we are not trying to just be difficult people by not being able to eat certain things, and we hate having to be the ones to veto a restaurant or meal choice. I can't stand it when I have to speak up about my diet, I literally hate it, but there are times when i need to so I can eat. We aren't trying to be party poopers, and if you are a true friend (like mine are, luckily) you'll care more for your friends health and just being in their company than where or what you eat.

Happy May and happy Celiac awareness!