Diet and Nutrition

What's it Like to Live with Celiac Disease?

What's it Like to Live with Celiac Disease?

Key Takeaways

  • Normal life situations like going to the grocery store or a restaurant will change when you are diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
  • Not being able to eat the foods you once loved can be emotionally upsetting.
  • The safest way to eating when you have Celiac Disease is making your own meals.

What it is like to live with Celiac Disease

Imagine what it would be like to live a life in which you couldn't eat a piece of bread without vomiting severely - A life in which you have to dodge the gluten bullet in restaurants, parties or just any gathering where food is served on a daily basis. Here is the story of a girl who suffers from Celiac Disease. A day in the life of Bella...

Bella's journey: Living with Celiac Disease

During the first few weeks and even months that Bella spent on a gluten-free diet, she experienced a jumble of many diverse emotions. She felt relieved after what she described as perplexing symptoms. But, she began to feel sad as the realities of day-to-day gluten-free living sunk in, and she realized that she could no longer eat the gluten versions of many of her favorite foods. She said, “I love this diet because it gave me my health back, but there's no denying that it's problematic and maddening at times.”

The doctor’s verdict was out and it read in part, “You have celiac disease, which inflames your small intestines occasioned by ingestion of the protein gluten that is found in barley, wheat and rye.”

Besides sharing her journey with her friends, Bella also put her experiences down on paper. It helped her unburden herself and clear her head. She shared some of her experience along with tips. "I decided to relax. I would take a warm bath or sometimes use aromatherapy oils to help in massage. Meditate, pray or chant if it fits your personality."

Normal life situations will be different

Three circumstances in particular often trigger very negative emotions when you're freshly gluten-free, and here are some tactics and tips to assist you to cope.

  1. A grocery trip may become frustrating: Bella's first trip to her favorite grocery after being diagnosed was an exercise filled with frustration, misery and anger. It wasn't so simple and clear-cut figuring out what grocery items were gluten-free. Luckily today most items are labeled as gluten-free, and it is much more common finding gluten-free foods.
  2. Avoiding food can make you sad: It isn't easy to come to terms with not being able to eat the foods you once loved. Bella watched her friends and family enjoy their old favorites. The feelings were more profound during holidays and birthdays, more specifically when her buddies decided on the spur of the moment to order pizza. Believe it or not, she had to leave the room when the pizza arrived. Just like Bella, you might need to remove yourself from the situation, and it is okay to do that. Leave the room until you find your new gluten-free favorites. Bella inevitably had some really sad patches around holidays. Nonetheless, she focused on finding or making tasty foods that are healthier than the gluten-filled food being served.
  3. Dining out safely: Bella loved to dine out. She could find herself in unexpected tears wishing there were more gluten-free options. When you are diagnosed, it is strongly recommended that you only visit restaurants that serve gluten-free food. The first few months of gluten-free dieting often come with emotional swings. But, as you continue following your diet and your health progresses, you will notice a much happier and constant mood. Bella feels more confident and can now venture outside her comfort zone and try new restaurants as well.

Lifestyle tips for living with Celiac Disease

Taking dietary precautions once you have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease helps you live a healthy life.

Carry on with exercises

Bella recommends that exercising after Celiac diagnosis is the one of the best decisions you can make in your life. Incorporating a wellness plan helps you feel better besides motivating your healing. You will be eating super healthy while you are eating gluten-free, so why not add exercise to your healthy lifestyle? You don't have to join a gym, and if you hate running don't try it. Instead, resolve to take more walks or do something that you love that involves physical activity. Exercising helps in fixing the problem - both mentally and physically.

Managing Celiac Disease

The best treatment for the disease is being on a gluten-free diet. You need a complete dietary education focusing on identifying unknown sources of gluten.

Read labels

Check with your pharmacist. Many prescription drugs contain gluten. Read the labels to confirm the absence of gluten. If unsure, ask the pharmacist to help you out. You not only need to rigorously keep off gluten-based food but also drugs.

Food shopping

To follow a gluten-free diet is getting easier. However, there’s still a tremendous learning curve involved in maneuvering places such as grocery stores and supermarkets. Did you know that technology can make your life easier? Try downloading "gluten-free apps" with verified databases of food and restaurant options. Astonishing, isn’t it? You can print out the list and do research before visiting the grocery store to avoid unnecessary frustrations.

Dining out

Investigate your regular eateries and investigate restaurant options where you can enjoy gluten-free bites. More restaurant chains are now considering gluten-free options. There are smaller establishments that may offer a menu that fits your condition. Eating out is exciting, but make sure you alert the waiters, cooks or caterers, or even other guests about your health condition.

Dining during travel

Carefully plan your travel. If you plan to take a flight, it is very tricky and challenging. A Celiac request may be misunderstood or just forgotten. Book a Celiac meal and let yourself be known to the airline staff. Remember to carry your own tasty snack with you, too. If you plan to stay in a hotel, send an email or a letter requesting a Celiac meal. Carry your own bread for instance, and ask them to toast it for you. Whenever in doubt, please don’t eat any questionable item.

Manage your diet and plan balanced meals

Find a nutritionist or partner with a dietitian to help you develop a gluten-free diet that still gives you your much-needed nutrients. It doesn't have to be boring to eat gluten-free food, and you can still prepare amazing recipes. Re-equip your kitchen with the ingredients you need. Also, be sure everyone in your home knows what foods you can't eat, so when someone else cooks your meal they don't serve you gluten.

Coping with your disease

People fuss at social events when you mention food intolerance, but don't get embarrassed to talk about it. You may be treated as a faddy eater. Don't be complacent as it is a sign of denial, especially when you begin to risk your health with food which has warnings. Positive thinking and learning helps you eliminate anxiety and ignorance. Despite the fact that you have a serious condition, it is manageable and no one is to blame for it. Look into gluten-free groups and other types of support systems. You can benefit from gluten-free recipes, magazines and a wide range of professionals.

Closing thoughts

A gluten-free diet seems challenging to achieve, but with some effort, it can become simple and habitual for you. The best way to guarantee gluten-free food is cooking from scratch. Have serious discussions with your doctor or dietitian concerning your diet considerations. If you still need help, consider being proactive. Note everything you eat with the symptoms you experience, so you can keep track of your condition.