I’m finding ways to win with Celiac Disease. Don’t get me wrong; Celiac Disease is a lifelong, chronic illness. It is a serious condition. But it’s also my normal. So I’ve found a few ways to empower myself and win with Celiac Disease.
1. Surround yourself with people who support you-- This goes without saying, and it applies to every part of my life, not just my Celiac Disease diagnosis. Without people around me who recognize that being gluten free is the only means of treating my Celiac Disease, I don’t think I’d be nearly as successful with it or as healthy as I am today.
Celiac Disease dominates every bite of food I put into my mouth, many of the products I use, and the hows and wheres of my food prep. So it’s a topic that comes up quite a bit. Sure, there are still those people who don’t understand it or think it’s just a fad diet, but having the support of my family and friends is what really matters.
2. Read, read, read those labels-- Even items that claim to be gluten free sometimes aren’t free from cross contamination which is a huge factor for those of us with Celiac Disease or gluten allergy/intolerance. Sometimes recipes change or the place it’s manufactured is different, so even if it’s a food you’ve eaten daily for years, it’s still important to give the info a quick run-through. Those quick checks have saved me from a few accidental-glutenings.
3. Don’t be afraid to question your food-- Aside from reading labels, when it comes to eating out at restaurants, I’ve found there’s a wide variety of knowledge about what it truly means for a meal to be gluten free. (No, I cannot just pick the croutons off this salad, thanks.)
The Nima Portable Gluten Sensor has made this even easier for me, even in situations where the wait-staff might not be as knowledgeable as I’d like. Nima allows me to take a pea-sized bit of food and test it for gluten, no matter where I am, and it’s already saved me from one accidental glutening (Darn you, “gluten free” raspberry cheesecake brownie!) and reassured me about some french fries that smelled suspiciously like onion rings.
4. Wear your medical ID-- As you might be able to tell, self-advocating is a huge part of how I live a healthy life with Celiac Disease. One way to do that is to wear a medical ID. Medical IDs are great for those of us with Celiac Disease because a medical ID advocates for you when you can’t. There are more than a handful of medications that contain gluten, and in the event that you are rendered unable to speak for yourself, your medical ID can alert first responders to your condition.
On my personal journey with Celiac Disease, while I sometimes find it a bit annoying to talk about it at every meal, especially with people I don’t know well (I mean, there aren’t a ton of chronic medical conditions that come up in conversation as openly as Celiac Disease and being gluten free do), I do find that spreading awareness helps me to take more control over this condition that dominates every single bite of food I take.
Having Celiac Disease and living a gluten-free life can feel overwhelming and limiting sometimes, even years and years after diagnosis. But I find small ways to win at Celiac Disease every day. I read. I empower myself with information. I surround myself with supportive people. I use the tools at my disposal and try new ones. I protect myself by planning, reading, wearing my medical ID, testing my food, and always staying vigilant.
How do you win at Celiac Disease? What tools and resources do you rely on? We want to hear from you in the comments below!