Imagine always feeling like there is a fog over your life, yet never knowing why. Or having a rash that doesn’t go away. This was my life before I found out that I have Celiac Disease. From a young age, I had always had eczema, and doctors would give creams to help, but nothing really worked.
In late 2015, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. It was a long road to finally bring relief and closure to a part of my life that I never could figure out. It took advocating for myself in multiple doctor’s offices, finally finding the doctors that believed what I said; then went to work to put it all together. I was very fortunate to find the support system that helped to diagnose my health issues, however I know many are not so lucky. The catalyst for my diagnosis was my youngest child being born. After the birth, I felt like I was living in a haze on a regular basis. My primary tried blaming post-partum; and made me feel like I was crazy. I knew this was different and brought it up to my OB-GYN during one of my follow up visits. She was very attentive, helping me to find a new primary that was within her group. My OB-GYN went to work right away, attempting to put together my symptoms, and analyzing the test results for the panels of bloodwork she had me perform. She referred me to a Gastrologist who scheduled a colonoscopy for me, which found the inflammation and solidified the diagnosis of Celiac Disease.
After my diagnosis, I went into our pantry and realized how much gluten containing items I had been eating all my life. My husband and I discussed the issue and we knew there could be no more cross contamination in the house. This was not difficult to accomplish, we just started buying the gluten free items and doing a lot of research on what it means to live gluten free. That is when I came across the research showing that if you do not have a gluten allergy, then there are potentially no health benefits for you. The main thing that people should focus on would be portion control and the amount of preservatives that they ingest if they do not have an allergy.
What it means to be gluten free for medical reasons is being ready to always read labels at the store while grocery shopping. Companies can change the equipment that the process certain foods on, like dip apples that I used to buy for my children. One day my oldest was the one that caught it, the caramel that went with them was being produced in a facility that also handled wheat. While they had labeled it, I hadn’t been checking consistently at that point to catch it since when I had started, it was gluten free with no cross contamination. The same goes for all foods that we buy, and any restaurant that we go to as a family. Going out to eat becomes an excursion that must be planned out. I was recently glutened at one of our kids’ favorite go to restaurants, mainly because we went in the late afternoon instead of opening time like we normally do. Trying new places is hard for me, because I hate the sick feeling that it brings on if I do end up consuming something that was cross contaminated. It means researching online, not just by word of mouth; and comparing reviews, looking at the history of those reviews and even being worried when you walk in. If I have a funny feeling about a place, I talk to managers about their process, and have left restaurants before because it was not worth the risk to me. It is hard sometimes, especially when you just want to go out for tacos, or make a quick run because you didn’t have time to cook, or are bored of the same of things; but to me I is worth it to not feel sick for days on end as my body works to process out the contamination.
Expanding on my earlier comments, there have been multiple studies that have shown that if you do not have celiac disease, a gluten free diet does not benefit you at all. I ask all to be weary if you are going to follow one, because the last thing you want to do is to starve your body of vital nutrients that it may need; which if you are not supplementing properly while on a gluten free diet, can be harmful to you. For those people that do have questions, or are curious about your health, I recommend speaking with your doctor to find out for sure if you do have Celiac Disease. It changed my life, and I feel healthier than ever now that I know what had been wrong for the first large portion of my years. If you do suspect that you have an autoimmune disease, do not quit trying to find out the answers. In my pursuit of answers, I found out that I also have two other disorders that affect my health, but with the right staff and doctors to help manage them, I live a perfectly happy and healthy life! It is all about not being content or satisfied if you think something is wrong with your body.