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No Gluten Gabby's Journey to Gluten Free

by Erika Macchione on June 12, 2022

Being diagnosed with celiac disease was the best thing that has ever happened to me. That doesn’t mean it came with no challenges but finding out what was wrong with my body and how to fix it changed my life. The journey to feeling better and fixing myself wasn’t a quick or easy process but it was worth every sacrifice I made and every challenge I overcame.

I always say that getting diagnosed with celiac disease was the best thing that could happen to me. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to NEVER have had celiac disease.  The thing that makes it the best thing that happened was finding out what was wrong with my body and how to fix it. Although, the journey to feeling better was not an easy nor fast journey. 

Celiac disease is a chronic digestive and immune disorder that is triggered by eating foods containing gluten. The only cure to celiac disease is to live a completely gluten-free lifestyle.

Being diagnosed with celiac disease was the best thing that has ever happened to me. That doesn’t mean it came with no challenges but finding out what was wrong with my body and how to fix it changed my life. The journey to feeling better and fixing myself wasn’t a quick or easy process but it was worth every sacrifice I made and every challenge I overcame.

I always say that getting diagnosed with celiac disease was the best thing that could happen to me. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to NEVER have had celiac disease.  The thing that makes it the best thing that happened was finding out what was wrong with my body and how to fix it. Although, the journey to feeling better was not an easy nor fast journey. 

Celiac disease is a chronic digestive and immune disorder that is triggered by eating foods containing gluten. The only cure to celiac disease is to live a completely gluten-free lifestyle.

 

My Story

Initial Diagnosis

For 22 years I went without knowing I had celiac disease and eating anything I wanted. I took advantage of that, to say the least. I lived 22 years not caring what I ate or what I did. They say ignorance is bliss and I lived in pure bliss. Having no dietary restrictions and eating anything I wanted without a second thought can really make me miss my pre-diagnosis days. However, the pain I was unknowingly living in makes me so happy to be living post-diagnosis.

I could stay for dinner with friends, I didn’t have to read the labels of every food I wanted to consume, I could go on a road trip without having to look up if there’s anywhere I can eat, and I didn’t have to pack an ungodly amount of snacks everywhere I went. After my diagnosis, I really believed nothing in my life was going to change except for the fact I am now that annoying girl asking if everything she is eating, is gluten-free.

By the way, I take full pride in being that girl!

Because celiac disease is an auto-immune disease, there is more to the diet than just making sure the food going in your body is gluten-free. We have to make sure that the food was made safely, with no cross-contamination with gluten products.

That means, no sharing toasters and you better check with your server if the fries are fried separately from gluten or your stomach may have other plans for you that night.

This can make it especially difficult when you want to stay at a friend’s house for dinner or eat out because a lot of times, the kitchen just isn’t safe enough to eat in. Thankfully this is why I always have truckload of snacks, to make sure I never go hungry.

Living with Celiac

The first year after my diagnosis, I rarely dined out. I had a horrible incident of cross-contamination that changed my knowledge on the severity of celiac and unfortunately, changed my relationship with food.

Similar to many people who go on the gluten-free diet, the longer I was gluten-free, the more sensitive I became to gluten. So, when I was glutened from a sip of “gluten-free” soup (that had glutenous fried scallions *eye roll*), I lost all trust in my ability to eat safely.

The next year I struggled to eat enough food, in fear of accidentally getting glutened. I also was extremely malnourished. Those two things do not go hand in hand very well, especially when I’m trying to recover from damaging my body with gluten for the past 22 years. It was not only a physical challenge, but a mental one at times too. 

On top of the food anxiety, I also had social anxiety when it came to going out with friends. When one of the main social events is to go out to a restaurant, this makes it pretty hard to get myself to go out.

It wasn’t until the past few months that I really got into my habits and felt comfortable with food. Of course, I still have my moments and it was not an easy journey to get where I am, but it was totally worth the ride.

Empowering Yourself with Celiac

The first thing that I had to come to terms with was that this diet is solely reliant on yourself. You are your own advocate for your health, and you have to take control when it comes to your body.

Does this mean that you should say “I’m doing this all alone”? NOO!

The only person who is going to speak up for you, is you. The only way people will learn about celiac disease and the importance of a gluten-free diet, is if we tell them. Advocating for your own health will not only weed out the people who don’t take it seriously, but it helps the people around you who want to make sure you are healthy!

If you are anything like me, the thought of having to explain my disease and ask if the kitchen can be safe with my food, is the most terrifying thing I could possibly do. How dare we speak up to make sure we don’t get sick? Unheard of!

The more I spoke up for myself, the better I began to feel about going to eat outside of my kitchen. I used to practice in the mirror what I would say to servers and now the question

“Could you make note that I have celiac disease, which means I have a severe reaction to gluten, and can you make sure that my food is prepared away from any gluten-ingredients?” is burned into my skull and now into yours.

Creating a Gluten-Free Community

Not long after my diagnosis I began my platform, @noglutenguru, to share the journey of going gluten-free and the everyday struggles that come with it. The platform hasn’t been just about spreading awareness and sharing meals but finding other people who struggle with the same things! I’ve learned so much from the amazing bloggers and dietitians on Instagram and Tik Tok. They have played a big role in me becoming more confident and speaking up for myself and my disease!

Of course, just speaking up for myself isn’t going to change the fact that foods will have gluten in them, and I won’t know until it’s too late. Thankfully, I found the Nima Partners sensor online and decided to give it a shot.

 The gluten sensor has brought so much relief into my life. There are many ingredients with hidden gluten, but with this sensor I am able to test any ingredient to find out if it is safe or not for me to eat. Most importantly, I feel confident in going out to restaurants because of the happy face that pops up on the sensor, assuring me that what I am eating is truly gluten-free. 

Final Thoughts

Celiac disease brings me pain at times, but it has also brought me more confidence, strength, and energy than I’ve ever had before. My biggest tip is to utilize the resources that are out there to help you become more comfortable and confident.

Remember, the diet change doesn’t happen overnight, I’m going on year three and still learning something new every day. It’s an ongoing journey but so worth the relief you feel as you continue the gluten-free diet!

Contributor: Gabby Hemond, Influencer @NoGlutenGabby

 

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