Another pep talk here – celiac disease can overrun your life. My husband says that every time I’m around other people we end up talking about celiac. My answer is that it affects every part of my life. But I’ve tried to become more conscious of what I say about the disease and to not have every conversation revolve around celiac. I really started this blog so I could talk about it to my heart’s content and not pester my family and friends about it. But I want to talk about how I’ve changed the way I talk about celiac.
Celiac can make everything – even eating seem disappointing and overwhelming. It can alienate you from friends or family. It can cause depression and anxiety. It can lead to obsessive behaviors. Know that celiac is not a death sentence but a way to start your healthier life.
Attitude is everything and especially with celiac disease. I can whine about having to cut out gluten or I can talk about it being a healthier lifestyle. I can’t eat all that processed junk, so as a whole it is a much better diet. I can whine about not eating my favorite food or I can figure out how to make a gluten free alternative. I can complain about how someone didn’t consider my gluten free diet when planning their menu or I can know I wouldn’t eat it anyway due to cross contamination concerns. I can skip going to dinner with my friends or I can eat beforehand and have a drink only. (Note this method will also save you money!)
It’s funny, when I was doing my clinical trial, I needed a lot of help. It took a village to really help me get through all of the trips back and forth. I got asked a lot about how the trial was going. It was surprising to me how many people were interested in what was happening. People I didn’t even know were reading the blog and were supporting my journey. It really felt weird for people to ask me about what was happening. They didn’t ask me about how gluten affected me, they asked me about the trial. That was really cool. It was nice to not just be that girl with the celiac for a minute but someone that was doing something cool that everyone was interested in hearing about.
I do want to talk about other people and celiac. People outside of the family of those with celiac really don’t understand the burden or how careful we have to be on a regular basis. I think we should cut them a little more slack in understanding. Remember the first time someone told you that you had to be gluten free or the first time you went gluten free shopping. It was stressful and hard. Most people don’t really understand how hard it is for us to eat gluten free all the time. So, cutting people a little slack in making mistakes or not really understanding what is required might go a long way in making our lives easier.
Finally, celiac has taken over my life. I write a blog about it. I think about what I’m going to write about. I read Instagram and Facebook about celiac. I participate in the groups. I write articles for magazines about celiac. But I don’t worry about what I’m going to eat on a daily basis. I don’t worry about going on vacation or getting on a flight because I know I can handle whatever comes my way. I have bars in my purse and know that I can make a meal of whatever comes my way. So, while I’m fairly obsessed with celiac in a lot of ways, it doesn’t alter my life in many ways at all.
Last summer, I decided I wanted chicken fingers. I wasn’t happy with the frozen gluten free ones. There are a few restaurants that make a chicken finger, but they were dry and a little bland for my taste. So, I decided I would create my own chicken fingers. I worked on them all summer. I tried different flours, different breading techniques, different seasonings, and different sauces for weeks. I made so many chicken fingers last summer my kids started asking for hamburgers. But I finally found something. I can’t repeat the exact seasoning combination because I’m not sure what it was. But I did learn that in order to make gluten free chicken fingers taste great, you have to be VERY aggressive with seasonings and Sweet Baby Rays makes the best gluten free honey mustard.
My point is that gluten free cooking can be done – you just might not get it right the first time or the 34th time, but eventually, it can be done!