For the “Old” Celiac

I’ve been dealing with Celiac for over 7 years. It is so ingrained in my brain that when I planned the food for a Boy Scout trip I wasn’t going on, I had to keep reminding myself that I could pack gluten foods because the boys could eat gluten. There are some pros and cons to being diagnosed for so long that I’ve come to realize. I wanted to talk about them today.

One of the pros and cons is that we’ve got this gluten free diet down pat.

One of the pros is that we can feed ourselves safely. We know how to read labels. We know that eating whole, non-processed foods is better than trying to replace our old favorites with gluten free replacements. Heck, we probably don’t even remember what our old gluten favorites really tasted like, which is a blessing. All the time I will pass my husband some food and say it tastes just like the gluten food. He smiles and shakes his head no. We also have an arsenal of recipes that we can cook cheaply, quickly, and easily to keep us safely fed.

Another pro is that we are socially adept. We know how to politely describe our disease and why we can’t at someone’s dinner party. We can ask for help in other situations, like at a wedding with a caterer. We know how to order at a restaurant to get a safe meal by asking the right questions. We are pretty adept at this gluten free thing.

Another positive for living a long time with Celiac is that we knew how bad it used to be. We are grateful for all of the new gluten free processed foods. We are grateful for the new labeling laws that more clearly label wheat in processed foods. We are grateful for the fad dieters that brought gluten free living to the forefront.

One of the cons of being an “old” celiac are that we can be arrogant. We probably take more risks than the newly diagnosed. I know that I do. We probably are less likely to really read labels – we know what brands are safe and don’t deviate from that. We may just avoid social situations because we are exhausted from always, always having to explain our disease and what we can or cannot eat. We get stuck in a food rut and probably eat and re-eat the same foods over and over again.

Hopefully, the “old” and “new” Celiac sufferers can learn from each other. We can help each other in a variety of ways. I think it is the responsibility of the “old” Celiacs to teach the “new” Celiacs that it is possible to live well with this disease and that your life will eventually not revolve completely around Celiac. The “new” Celiacs can keep the old-timers on track for new research and new foods that can keep things interesting.

I know that I can be judgmental and roll my eyes when I see the same posts, asking the same questions repeatedly. Or even when I see the posts that say, “I got diagnosed a week ago and I accidentally ingested gluten today. Have I messed up?” I have to lighten up. I have to remember that this is a completely new way of life for people and they are just learning. On the other hand, when a smart-alec old timer bites their tongue and politely replies to the above question by saying, “No, you haven’t messed up. It will get easier and please don’t beat yourself up.” Know that they may be saying in their head, “Oh honey, you are going to mess up a million times in the first year and occasionally there after, so just relax.”

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about today.

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