I’m sorellasenzaglutine, aka Melissa. I’ve made some sporadic guest appearances here from time to time; however, today I join you all in a more structured manner as the gluten free guest blogger on Garlic, My Soul! I am very happy to be here and I’m going to jump right in by giving some background to get us all on the same page.
I’ve been gluten free since September of 2008 when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease where your body attacks and destroys your small intestine when gluten is present in your body. Gluten is a long-structured protein that is found in the grains wheat, rye, barley and oats. Nowadays, because so much of our food is processed, gluten also turns up in a lot of other and sometimes odd places.
The only treatment for Celiac is a life-long gluten free diet. You may encounter people who are avoiding gluten for a variety of reasons. Celiac is different than a gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy. In an intolerance or allergy the body is having an immune response to a foreign substance and attacking only the foreign substance. In an autoimmune disease the body is triggered by the foreign substance, but then cannot tell the difference between the foreign substance and your body. It gets all muddled and just attacks and destroys everything unilaterally, good and bad. This is why someone with Celiac has to worry about minute amounts of gluten that can be introduced through cross contamination or the like whereas someone with an intolerance may not have to be quite so careful.
Great, now that we got all that technical stuff out of the way and we’re all up to speed about what gluten is and what it does, onto real life! So you have been diagnosed with Celiac or you know someone who has been? First and foremost, you need to know that it’s okay and everything’s going to be fine. (If we’re being honest the day I was diagnosed I sobbed at my desk at work, but then my wonderful coworker went to Whole Foods on his lunch and bought me my first GF food. It all works out in the end.)
Admittedly, sometimes GF life is a total drag. Sometimes it is overwhelming. Sometimes it takes way too much thought. But also (and most importantly), more of the time it is totally fine once you get past the learning curve. It just becomes normal life that you are completely able to be handle, you just have to stick with it. I have found that the key is educating yourself and educating the people in your life. Everything is a teachable moment; you will learn something new every day.
Speaking of learning something new, these are some resources that helped me early on (and still do!):
I am coming up on my three year anniversary of this dramatic life change. Going gluten free for health reasons or otherwise is not small potatoes, though fortunately, you can still eat those!