This summer marks six years since I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, and officially started my gluten free diet. It’s been a huge transition in my life and Coeliac Awareness Week has me feeling quite reflective.
You would think changing something in your diet would be easy. But as a fussy eater it’s probably been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Even now I still gaze longingly in the direction of tins of Pringles and displays of Krispy Kremes.
Don’t let other people make you feel as though it should be easy, because it’s not. It’s difficult but you will come out a stronger person by the end.
Earlier this year I was “glutened” in a restaurant I’ve been to many times. It’s the worst I’ve felt in years. Not only did I begin having physical symptoms before we had even left, I think it took my body a month to fully recover. For weeks I felt lethargic, had headaches and sore joints, and trouble concentrating at work. Mentally you take a huge hit as not only is your confidence knocked from the experience but you are having to deal with all the emotions of not being 100% OK.
Going gluten free has made me a changed person. I used to hate food, only really ate because I had to and not because I actually enjoyed it, but now I love eating out and even try new things from time to time. I’m so much healthier – I gained over a stone and a half in my first six months eating gluten free and have now stabilised at a healthy weight for my height and build. My skin has cleared up, and my weak joints have improved and no longer give me as much grief.
I sometimes feel Coeliac Disease is overlooked. It’s not an allergy, and it’s manageable by a controlled diet so it isn’t often included under the banner of chronic illness. But that’s what it is. I will have this for the rest of my life and if I ever chose to stop eating gluten free I would drastically reduce my life expectancy.
There is so much more awareness now of Coeliac Disease than there was six years ago but there is still so much to do. Gluten is still seen as a “fad” diet by many people, which makes it more challenging to eat out safely as we can’t always be sure the kitchen will take proper cross contamination care. Takeaways are still a complete hit or miss. Sure, the range of gluten free products in stores is increasing, but I’d love to see more “to go” items in the high street shops and coffee chains. Since when is a wrapped brownie an appropriate lunch?
If you think you might have coeliac disease, please go and see a doctor. Don’t just cut out gluten as it is even more difficult to get diagnosed if you aren’t eating gluten. It’s a long process of testing but it’s worth it in the end.
Have you got a story to share of your experiences with Coeliac Disease? Please comment your story below as I’d love to hear them.