For my Mom

Well, Halloween is my least favorite holiday of the year and one I typically do not like to dwell on. Couple that with the fact that eating G-free is not hard on this holiday, I often choose to forget about it. Instead I have decided to move on to the idea surrounding the wonderful holiday in November, Thanksgiving. In my family we always have a huge meal and as we sit around the table stuffing ourselves until we can barely move, we share something we are thankful for that year.

It is easy when we are kids to not realize how many people help take care of you and make your life easier. I am now realizing the importance of these people, so here is one of my many thank you’s:

For my mom:

Mommy, I miss you. But you know that. Mostly I want to tell you how thankful I am for all you have done for me and how much you still do. When I was younger and all I wanted to do was grow up and be on my own; now that I am here, I want to go back to my youth. It makes me laugh when I think how often you told me to enjoy being a kid because too soon I would have to be a grown up and pay bills and how that was no fun. I never believed you then, but it is time to swallow my pride and admit you were right. Go ahead, you can laugh and do your happy dance now.

Cooking every night is no fun either. I should have known that too right? Actually I honestly like being in the kitchen, but having to cook a full meal after being at work or school all day with a mountain size pile of homework never sounds like a good idea. Eggs have become my specialty. I think back on how you would work all day, then come home and help all four of us with homework, clean the house and then cook a full-on meal before cleaning it all up. Thank you for that. I am only now beginning to understand why you were so tired every night.

You were always my first supporter when I found out about my Celiac. Talk about a life changing experience for the both of us. But you embraced it with me wholeheartedly. I remember our first Christmas when we tried SO MANY gluten-free cookie recipes, not that any of them were good, but you took the time with me to try. Thank you. The many times that you held me while I cried about how miserable I was because I was convinced I could not eat anything. Again, thank you. When I am frustrated with my own children down the line, remind me of the hell I put you through.

And most importantly, thank you for always striving to be better. You have shown me that it doesn’t matter how old you are or how busy your life may be, you are never to old to follow your dream. I am so proud of you for going back to school. You have shown me what it means to have dedication, trust in God and an immense love for your family. You are my biggest role model.

I love you more than anything. Thank you for always being there for me when I needed you. Even when I call you at 10:30 at night bawling my eyes out because I am convinced I will never be able to manage all of my homework, work and living on my own. Thanks for convincing me I can 🙂

I love you.

 

 

Thank someone you love today. They are infinitely more important than you may realize.

Stay Strong ❤

All On My Own

Sorry for not posting for a while! The craziness of college life has quickly overwhelmed me and unfortunately posting on the blog hasn’t exactly been on the top of the list. So Sorry!

I have been doing surprisingly well here in my apartment. Turns out that my roommate is not gluten-intolerant (surprise, surprise with the doctors!) so she has been eating normal. In fact she thinks that dairy might be the devil-food group that is upsetting her stomach, but as I am not an expert in it, I say no comment. I thought that living on my own and cooking my own meals would prove to be difficult. I didn’t stand up well to the temptations last year and I figured that being back up here at school would prove to be a challenge. While it has been a struggle at times, it is actually a lot easier to control what I eat when I am the one buying my own food.

Yes, my roommate still has gluten-filled products in the house. In fact, our entire cupboard is filled with the delicious smell of cinnamon bagels (my weakness!) right now. However, those are something that she bought for herself; and while I know that she would let me have something if I wanted, I am not really tempted to ask. Even if I did ask, she is one of my biggest advocates and would tell me no because she doesn’t want me to be sick. She is great 🙂

I did cheat once :/ I drove up to surprise my boyfriend for the weekend. Being the typical boys they are, there was nothing to eat in the house at all, especially for a gluten-free person. So for breakfast I had one egg and half a bagel. I did that for two days, eating a whopping whole bagel in 48 hours. But other than that I have been G-free! My roommate is so great too! (if I haven’t mentioned that yet (; ) We have been working together to create a menu each week and plan meals we can put together. So far we have made all gluten-free meals. If we have something that has gluten, we just improvise to make it both ways. Plus she is open to eating G-free products so we have made pasta and banana bread that both of us can eat. My advice, if you don’t have a person like this in your life, try to find one; they are priceless!

Biggest piece of advice tonight? If you or someone you know is Gluten-Free, you need to buy or read this book:

My grandmother bought me this book over the summer and it has completely opened my eyes in a whole new way. I don’t want you to be scared when you start reading this book though. I am a firm believer that there are different levels of gluten-intolerance. There are some things this author swears away from that I still have in my diet simply because my case isn’t as extreme. Should I still be avoiding these foods I am still eating at all costs? Probably but being a 20-year-old college student, I make exceptions and mistakes. What can I say, I’m only human.
I haven’t made it all the way through the book yet ( personal reading kind of gets pushed to the side when you have chapters of reading to do for classes) but something this author said really caught my attention. She points out that there are hundreds, even thousands, of people out in the world who are suffering from horrible diseases that have no cure. All they can do is hope that the treatment will work or pray that someone finds an innovative new way of trying to rid them of this horrible disease. These people who cry with relief if someone told them that they could be cured by simply changing their diet and always sticking with it. We are lucky enough that this is all we have to do.
Keeping this in mind, I challenge you that whenever you are feeling sorry for yourself because you have this problem and it is just so hard to be you do this: first, understand that I know what it feels like to feel that way; I have been there so many times in the last 5 years I have lost track. But second, remember all of those people who wish they could be better by simply removing a foodgroup from their diet. That they would gladly never eat their favorite pasta or cookie again if it meant they would forever be healed. It seems that allowing yourself this perspective can work in ways that your self-restraint or self-pity cannot.
Try it next time 🙂
Stay Strong ❤

Falling off the Bandwagon

I am sitting here dyeing my hair, so I will keep this short. 

I am going to fast-forward a little bit. As rough as it was for the next 4 years I went G-Free. Almost completely, not even cheating very often.

Then I started my freshman year away at college…. 

Freshman are required to live on-campus at my school, which really was a fabulous opportunity and great experience for me. However, our tiny, small, cubicle-like rooms have no space for a kitchen. We were lucky to fit a mini fridge, microwave and coffeepot in ours. So where did I eat? Like any normal college student the majority of my meals were taken in at the on-campus cafeteria where I could eat for ridiculously cheap. However, they dont really cater to the G-Free crowd. Don’t get me wrong, they try, but often their substitutes are tasteless cardboard-like pieces of bread that even a dog would not find appetizing. So, ignoring my better judgement, I threw caution to the wind (as well as my diet) and went back to eating like a regular teenage kid. My stomach was not appreciative. 

I knew this wasn’t a smart idea, but I told myself I didn’t have another choice. No person can live on crappy cafeteria salad for every meal of the day for 9 months. I had to have some sustenance. Looking back, I am not sure how I would have acted differently, but I know it was stupid. I didn’t feel good and I was putting my body in some serious danger from eating these toxic ( to me! ) foods. 

Well, now I have been home for almost 4 months and I have worked my way back to a gluten-free diet…almost. it has been a lot harder jumping back onto the bandwagon than I had anticipated. I have 3 younger siblings, all of which enjoy eating gluten-filled foods on a daily basis. It is hard to resist that kind of temptation when you haven’t been denying yourself the satisfaction for a while. However, like I said, I am almost there.

Now I am about to embark on a journey a little bit scarier. On Sunday I am moving back to school, but this time my roommate and I are in an apartment, all on our own. I am about to stay G-Free by myself. My mom has always been the one to back me up and stop me. not once but several times,from buying Milano’s ( the best cookies ever) at the grocery store. But this time I have to do that myself….daunting, I know.

My roommate has just found out she has a gluten-intolerance though. So while I try to stay gluten-free and she tried to navigate the choppy waters, stay tuned for what are sure to be some comical stories knowing the two of us. Lucky for her, she has me to guide her, and maybe she will help me stay on the right path. 

Bottom line? Find your person. The person that knows your disease like the back of their hand and can help you when your cravings or desperate meltdowns get the best of you. They are removed from the situation and can help you find your way with a clear mind, because lets be real, sometimes yours gets a little cloudy with bad judgment calls. 

Wish me luck. I will keep you posted 😉

Stay Strong ❤

Rough Start

Let’s just say that coming home from the doctors office that day was a struggle. I had walked into the office a seemingly normal fifteen-year-old girl and walked out with a serious auto-immune disease. When I walked out of the office my biggest worry was no longer the emotional dramas of a teenage girl but worrying about what the hell I was going to eat for dinner.

My mom, being the internet-research guru that she is, immediately jumped on the computer and began looking up gluten-free lifestyles, recipes and finding forums that other gluten-free people had been posting on. Me? I simply sat in front of the pantry and looked at all of the ingredients on every box and bag on the shelves. I thought the sinking feeling would stop, but I can honestly tell you that my heart and my hope must have been down around Antarctica by the time I walked away from the cupboard. I know of course that fruits, vegetables, and meats were still fine, but as I walked from the cupboard I knew with certainty that I could eat Captain Crunch, rice, some chips, and that was pretty much it.

I have never eaten so much Captain Crunch in my whole life. Because I knew for sure that I could eat it, I didn’t eat much else for quite some time. Whenever I was in doubt about what I could eat, I would turn to a bowl of Captain Crunch. To this day it almost makes me physically ill to see a box of Captain Crunch. This is definitely not the route I suggest.

As difficult as it is, go to a grocery store that sells organic products because they are most likely to carry gluten-free products as well. My personal favorites are Whole Foods or Natures, a lot of people also suggest Trader Joe’s. Fortunately, it is a lot easier today than it was even five years ago to find gluten-free products. Many common grocery stores, such as Safeway, sell and clearly mark gluten-free products within the store.

Unfortunately, the trial and error part is an essential piece to starting the gluten-free life. I went through my fair share of really bad food. The hardest part was getting used to the different textures and tastes that come with the gluten-free lifestyle. I promise though, that eventually you will get used to the different flavors and soon you will prefer it over regular gluten-containing products.

Meltdowns are expected! I have had my fair share of mornings where I burst into tears and just have to sit in my mom’s arms because I think that I cannot eat a single thing on the planet. But don’t worry, there is plenty to eat! Just have faith that you will find something out there. If I did, you can too.

Get out there and get shopping!

Stay Strong ❤

I have what?!

“You have Celiac Disease, and from this moment on, you are going gluten-free.” 

Not exactly the phrase you want to hear when you are a fifteen-year-old freshman in high school trying to find your way through the shark tank that is adolescence. However in March of 2008 my gastroenterologist (not the kind of doctor you would expect a teenager to have would you?) said this to me, with little to no forewarning of the absolute hell that I was about to go through. Bit of  a shock, I know. My story doesn’t start here, however; in fact this conversation was preceded by months of suffering and frustration.

In December of 2007, in the final week of school before the long anticipated Christmas Break, I began to suffer from pains in my  stomach. Looking back now, I feel I have always has somewhat of a sensitive stomach, but this was definitely a turn for the worse. In the beginning I tried to brush off the pain by convincing myself that I was stressed by the upcoming holidays, my massive homework load and studying for my first-ever finals. However, as the week progressed I began to realize that something was very wrong indeed. Instead of enjoying the holiday festivities that were beginning to ring in my absolute favorite time of year, I was spending much of my day trying to avoid being doubled over in pain. At last when I could no longer  even sip water without bursting into tears from the pain I insisted that my parents take me to the Urgent Care, only two days before Christmas.

Thus began the never-ending testing…

The urgent care doctor was convinced that I was suffering from an ulcer (yes, a 15 year-old with an ulcer, most people thought it was crazy too) and prescribed me an antibiotic to relieve the pain. I took the pills, went on vacation and within five days the pain was gone. To say I was relieved is an understatement; like a diligent patient I took all of the prescribed medication until the bottle was empty, figuring this pain was behind me…how wrong I was. Within the next five days the pain was back, just as bad as before. I was sent to my primary care physician who insisted the previous doctor was correct in his diagnosis but had failed to prescribe me with the adequate amount of medication. I was sent home with a prescription for 60 days worth of antibiotics for  stomach ulcer. I didn’t even make it through the first 30 days worth before the pain had reared its ugly head once more.

The doctors must have found some sort of concoction that kept the pain at bay because it was March before I made it into the surgical center for an endoscopy. At this point I had previously  had way to much blood drawn for testing and had gone through an ultrasound to rule out gallstones. Yeah, exactly what I wanted to spend my freshman year doing..being paraded through a myriad of doctors offices to figure out what was wrong with the freak of nature…perfect. Even after the endoscopy and the discovery of the possible Celiac I was prescribed a gastroenterologist for further testing to make a positive diagnosis. I was told to keep eating as I normally did and see to these tests to ensure this was my problem. So it was not until May of my freshman year that my doctor dropped the bomb. Not only was I to go gluten-free, but I was to go gluten-free NOW. I wasn’t prepared…AT ALL.

Whether you are a parent, or a friend or a family member of a person suffering from Celiac Disease or gluten-intolerance or perhaps you have this problem yourself, I hope this helps you. I have spent way too many years trying to weed my way through all of the REALLY bad food to find the good stuff and learning how to make people understand that this is a serious problem that isn’t to be taken lightly. It is a rough road to walk down, but I can tell you from personal experience that you will feel so much better if you can make it through. I know that I have often wished I had someone who really understood what it was like to be me, and I am here to be that person for you.

Stay Strong ❤

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