No More Gluten. Now What?!

So you just found out you are gluten-intolerant, have Celiac Disease, or are experiencing symptoms related to gluten sensitivity. What now? You might even be afraid to admit or accept that all that delicious pasta, pizza, and beer...yes, beer... is what is really causing you to feel bad…or at least not as good as you know you should feel.

This is common. Denial, confusion, frustration, sadness, and defeat are the usual emotions when one discovers he or she has to eliminate many of the food products consumed as part of a daily diet. After all, this is America - the land of donuts, funnel cakes, hot dogs, hamburgers, and plenty of other yummy, gluten-filled treats you can find at baseball games. You think about all of the places at which you can no longer eat, how you will fair when invited to an event or party, what else might have gluten in it, etc. If you are like me, you’re thinking, “Who in the world would ever want to date me with this diet?!” I mean, let’s face it. First dates are usually at Italian restaurants, which can be beyond challenging for the gluten intolerant.

Never fear, though! The first step is to change your attitude. Think of it as a new adventure! I know you are thinking, “This girl is insane,” but it’s really not that bad. Be thankful you finally have an answer and can allow your body to heal. It only takes a month or so to notice a significant change in your energy level, overall well-being, and your stomach pains/problems magically disappear!

People will feel bad for you, ask you questions, make shocked faces, and say, “Wow! That’s awful! So you can’t eat, like, ANYTHING?”  Actually, with all of the new gluten free products out today, you can eat almost everything. My diet used to consist of sandwiches, pasta, chips, cookies, etc. I thought I hated most vegetables and was too lazy to buy, peel, and cut fruit. Since going gluten free, I discovered I LOVE avocados, hummus, zucchini, squash, onions, peppers, and consume peaches and blueberries daily. The biggie for me, however, is the fact that after 5 years…5 YEARS…of being lactose intolerant, I can eat pretty much all the dairy I want. This is amazing considering I have a slight addiction to ice cream.

I discovered a love for cooking and baking back in high school. Once on the gluten free diet, I thought that would end. Instead, my recipe collection grew and I have an amazing variety to choose from. I cook bacon-wrapped pork medallions, sweet and sour chicken with homemade sauce, and discovered that putting grilled zucchini, squash, and onions on a pizza is quite delicious and an excellent vegetarian option. Even those not on the diet love my meals, especially my Jello cupcakes!

So don’t think of your diagnosis as a curse. I honestly believe it will make you a stronger and better person. You will enjoy foods you never thought you’d like, become more creative in the kitchen, and hopefully, reach out to others the way I’m reaching out to you. I have discovered a wonderful community of support by connecting with other gluten freers. Many are people I have never met before, but through Twitter, Facebook, and blogs like this, you can find tons of valuable information from people who started out just like you.

This new diet will give you character. It sounds bogus, but it is quite true. Life’s challenges often lead us to discover gifts we never knew we had. Embrace it, own it, love it…and welcome to the gluten free community!


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