I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2007, after a life time of vague physical problems and later terrible gastro-intestinal issues. Initially, I was devastated to have to live on a gluten free diet. My favorite food has always been pasta and I love all things that are starchy and delicious, i.e. gluteny. Over time, I have come to the realization that my Celiac has been a blessing.
You’re probably asking yourself how a disease can be a blessing. My Celiac has forced me to take a close look at what I eat. Whereas I used to give ingredients on food labels a quick glance-over at best, I have to study them very closely now. And there is a lot of stuff in our food that doesn’t need to be there!
Go into your pantry or fridge and pull out a food container of something that you consider to be a simple food. Let’s take a look at deli meat, for example. Should there be anything in there apart from meat and a few spices? I say no. However, if you read the packaging you will find a long list of confusing ingredients that sound chemical and not edible. What is BHA? Do I want to eat it?
I have found that we as consumers have become far too accepting of what kind of products are put in front of us. We buy what is available, even if it contains garbage that we really don’t want to eat, just because we feel like we don’t have many other options. In addition, many consumers don’t bother to find out to what is in the groceries they buy. As long as they can afford the price and it tastes good, there are few complaints.
I have started paying attention to what goes into my body. It has been a gradual process- from only checking for gluten at first, to trying to eat as naturally as possible now. This has not only influenced what I eat- it has forced my husband to eat more healthily, too. My children have made me be even more alert when it comes to the food that ends up on our table. I don’t want their delicate little bodies to be polluted by pesticides, artificial hormones, genetically modified ingredients, etc.
In addition, my lifestyle changes have had a slight ripple effect. Because I have to pay such close attention to my food, my friends have started to also pay attention. Reading food labels is just one of the ways they have started looking out for me and for themselves.
However, I can honestly say that my disease has not only affected my food intake. It has made me look at so many things in a different way. Because of my Celiac, I was determined to breastfeed my daughter. I’m not sure how it would have been otherwise. Because of my breastfeeding, I read the parenting books that I read, learned the things that I learned, and became the mother I am today. All in all, I have become a much more crunchy person and I love it!
Not only has the discovery of my Celiac made me a healthier person, I think it has made me an overall more conscious and therefore a better person. I am very grateful to be as healthy as I am now and that I have had the opportunity to make all these wonderful life changes. Even though I have come across people who have made fun of me or have been far from understanding, I can honestly say that I am very happy to be just the way I am- gluten free!