An Eighteen Year Old's View Of Celiac Disease And Food Intolerances

This is my first blog post I've written for my mom's blog. As an eighteen year old teenager, having celiac's disease and living a gluten-free life hasn’t always  been the easiest thing to live with in my life. Some days, there are more pros then cons - but other days, it's vice versa. I've learned many things about my diet and lifestyle since I was first diagnosed. I've learned what I can eat, what I can't eat, what small things make me sick, and what big things don't make me sick. It's still a work in progress, but it gets easier every day.

Two of the most dreaded words to me, as a Celiac, are – (and this may surprise you) – “birthday parties”. Well, any kind of party for that matter. Don't get me wrong, they're supposed to be a blast. Cake, ice cream, food, balloons, presents. It sounds great, but with over a handful of allergies – that’s not always the case for me.  

Trying to Explain It to Everyone Else

Trying to explain it to most people is no easier either. They say things like, "Well, can't you just have a bite of this?" Or, my favorite, "It won't make you that sick. Just eat it for today. You'll be fine tomorrow." In reality, for that one little bite of birthday cake, I could be sick for days or even weeks.  

Not to mention all of the other side effects that come with that little bite: Mood swings, temper tantrums (yeah, I admit I’ve had my share of those), brain fog, depression, uneasiness, discomfort, nausea, uncomfortable bowel movements, and so much more. 
I remember when I was younger, I would go to many birthday parties and bring my own cake and ice cream with me. Mom would try to duplicate the same cake that the person had made, so that I would “fit” in. But I always felt like the outcast and I was embarrassed to pull out my own little cooler packed with gluten-free food. There was many times when people would ask and not understand why I had my own food with me, and I didn't understand too well myself at that point. Now looking back, in the long run, I’m thankful for all my mom did and it made me feel better and kept me healthy.  

Eat for Today - Be Sick Tomorrow

I have never been the type to "eat it for today" and get sick tomorrow. Although, I will admit, when the gluten digestive enzymes first came out, I tried them and went out with my friends and ate some regular pizza crust. (And I know that's not really how your supposed to use them.) All of my friends didn't understand why I was so hesitant to just dig into a slice of pizza, but it’s hard even with the digestive enzymes to just eat something you know could potentially make you sick. And even with the enzymes I wound up getting sick a few days after, and I vowed to never again do that to myself. (And truthfully, the crust really wasn't that good, anyways, or worth being sick to my stomach for a whole week.) 

I have a friend who also has celiac disease, but she lives her life a lot differently than the way I do.  She eats gluten every day, and gets a severe stomach ache that night. She's done it for years, and her household is not gluten free, so it's become how her body processes it on a daily basis now.  But for me with all I need to do each day, I couldn’t handle that and wouldn’t be able to stand feeling sick most of the time. 

Everyone Else Thinks It's All In Your Mind

I strongly believe that unless you, yourself, are a celiac, it's definitely difficult to understand or wrap your mind around the cons of having it. Most people think it's all in your mind, or it's really not that serious. When in reality, it's actually quite serious and can completely destroy your intestines one day at a time and be the underlying cause of so many other illnesses.  

After having celiac's disease over 10 years now, I can really say it does get easier every day.  I go out with my friends for dinner to OutbackPF Chang’s or Mellow Mushroom. I know what I can have, for the most part, and what I need to stay away from, too. I know that if I'm on a date, I'm going to get sick if he's had gluten and holds my hand - or maybe even, kisses me.  

I don't remember how most regular, gluten filled foods taste, but I really don't have much of a need for them (kind of helps that my mom is Celeste’s Best :) I've learned to make do with what I have, and to be honest, most of the gluten-free and allergen-free things I eat nowadays are quite excellent. I wouldn't change a thing if I could, because I'm happy having celiac's disease.

Image credit:poznyakov / 123RF Stock Photo

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