I remember the day distinctly. I just picked the boys up from school and was heading home when I received the call. It was my gastroenterologist informing I had tested positive for both Celiac and Lactose intolerance. It was a five minute conversation … but one that would change my life forever. He told me to browse the internet and educate myself about the disease. I questioned if there were any associated complications and he matter-of-factly answered, yes, untreated Celiac could lead to among others, osteoporosis and cancer. That was all I had to hear – an increased risk of the dreaded “C”. No way was I going there. Within the next minute, I became gluten-free and I knew it would be for a lifetime – no turning back – there would be no cheating, and I have remained 100% committed.
Though it was a life-changing diagnosis, I consider myself fortunate, as so many people remain undiagnosed. In my case, it took several years of symptoms before being accurately diagnosed. My primary care physician suggested I had IBS, and alas, never considered - connected the dots – that my symptoms (chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, low iron & folate, 6 months pregnant-looking belly) were all classic Celiac symptoms. Eventually I visited the gastroenterologist. He didn’t suspect Celiac initially either, and scheduled a variety of tests to rule out other conditions. My gastro issues subsided for a time so I didn’t return. Months following, I travelled to Tuscany (thank goodness for Tuscany!) and when I returned home, I began to suffer painful lower abdominal spasms. I gather my small intestines couldn’t take the nightly consumption of pasta and finally revolted! I went back to the gastroenterologist and he suggested I test for Celiac – finally.
The day after receiving my diagnosis I headed to the grocery store. There I stood, in the one-aisled section, perusing the gluten-free products, feeling a little numb, dazed & yes, depressed. The lack of choices was shocking to me and I remember thinking it was a good thing I did all my fine dining & exotic food experimentation when I was younger and feeling well – in the years BC (Before Celiac)! The following day I visited my local Whole Foods, which was the best thing I could have done. An employee, also a Celiac, empathetically took my hand and led me on a personal tour of the aisle containing gluten-free products. I left Whole Foods feeling encouraged about my new diet. Within the next year the gluten-free product explosion began and Celiacs and the gluten-sensitive now have a decent assortment of tasty, gluten-less foods to choose from – though I’m always excited to see a new product hit the shelf! Can you imagine how people felt given a diagnosis 10, even 5, years ago?
Living a gluten-free lifestyle has opened up an entirely new way of eating (& cooking) for me. While meticulously reading labels looking for the absence of gluten, I also discovered how many unhealthy ingredients are added -preservatives, dyes, etc. I am now buying less processed, fresher & primarily organic foods for the entire family. I experiment with gluten-free baking flours (Amaranth, Coconut, Brown Rice, Teff among others) that I never knew existed!
Ultimately, my diagnosis of Celiac has proven to be a serendipitous blessing! Does it come with challenges, absolutely.
Thank you for visiting CeliacCorner and reading about my journey. I hope you will find my experience to be of some comfort and encouragement as you begin, or continue, your journey into a healthy gluten-free lifestyle. Be patient, healing doesn’t happen overnight, but you will feel better with time & eating gluten-free, and if you do not feel well after a period of time, continue to advocate for your health! My passion for spreading awareness led me to create CeliacCorner, along with others dedicated to the cause. My intention is to keep the site as uplifting an experience as possible for my visitors … some of whom have just come through a tunnel of darkness, to finally arrive at a diagnosis. In addition to providing visitors with important Celiac facts, I hope you will enjoy the posted recipes, product reviews, shopping tips & travel stories … perhaps you will become inspired to share a story of your own!
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Wishing you well!
Co-founder, CeliacCornerp.s. I’d like to express a special thanks to “Karen S.”, with whom I shared my introduction into the world of Celiac. Introduced to me by a friend via email, Karen was diagnosed within the same week as me. Having her as a comrade “newbie” to compare symptoms with, testing results, food options, etc. helped with the transitioning … Thank you Karen!