digestive journeyPosted: June 13, 2011 | Author: rachel | Filed under: digestive journey, enemy list | 1 Comment »
I started this blog a bit late in my digestive journey. I’m already four years in and although I have written about my difficulty with food on my other blog, posts are few and far between. (To read posts only related to celiacs and health on madebyrachel, just use the health category.) So, I’m not exactly sure how to start other than to jump right in and give you a little how-to guide so we’re all on the same page. Here goes.
*I have a lot of stories. I plan on writing them as they come to me. I’ll probably skip around a bit, filling in the spaces as I go in a semi-coherent but not necessarily linear fashion. If you get lost and need back story, scope out the posts with the digestive journey tag.
*Just a warning: I’m an academic writing teacher. I get paid to write and to teach writing. I love bullets and have no intention of obsessively checking this blog for mechanical and grammatical errors because I’d rather be biking or reading or sewing than editing. I apologize in advance for misplaced commas.
*Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disease. You can read the quick over-view of it here and here. What some people don’t understand about celiac is that it’s different for every individual. While symptoms can be similar across people and populations, how people experience celiac in their bodies can be highly individual, which is one of the many reasons it is difficult to diagnose. Getting a diagnosis took me almost 4 years. It hurts my heart to know there are millions out there going through the same things I did and still don’t know how much happier and healthier they would be if they dropped the gluten. Unfortunately, my doctors never encouraged me to, even after multiple tests. This is one of the main reasons I started this blog.
*Dairy-free: When I say dairy-free, I usually mean cow-products. Personally, I can’t eat anything that comes from a cow; oddly enough, I can eat the actual cow. I find this fascinating. I can eat goat and sheep products; however, I rarely do. More on that in the future. I do eat eggs, (that’s lunch pictured above) mainly because I love them. I only buy eggs from farmers I trust, which has made me an egg snob in terms of taste. I’m not a big meat eater and other than nuts, it’s difficult for me to get the protein I need. This is a side effect of celiac disease: you’re gut doesn’t always absorb nutrients. More on that in the future as well.
*Soy-free: For 3 and a half years, I could not touch soy. This included any food that had soy or a soy-related ingredient listed on its package. After going gluten-free, my body seems to be more willing to digest soy in small amounts. I still avoid it because soy isn’t that great for you anyway and is the most genetically modified crop in the country. I also don’t eat food that has ingredients I don’t immediately recognize. I’m an obsessive ingredient list reader. Most of my contamination illnesses have come from not paying attention to ingredient lists.
*Meat: I was a vegetarian for many years. I still don’t eat a lot of meat, despite doctors’ orders to do so. I gave in to chicken and fish when everything I ate went in and out within a few hours and I started loosing weight. I do my very best to only eat meat that comes from farms I trust and farmers I have met.
*Enemy list: The enemy list is a list of foods that have literally wrecked my shop. Meaning, I ate them and was laid out with an excruciating stomachache and intestinal pain, threw up multiple times, and the toilet and I got super close for 3-4 days. Everyone’s enemy list looks different. Mine is long. I secretly enjoy adding to it. It eases the frustration.
*Does living with celiac disease suck: yes. Does it get easier? Absolutely. The first few months are the hardest, especially when you don’t know where gluten has snuck in and you aren’t sure what to avoid. Sticking to a gluten-free diet for life means giving up a lot of foods. What has been the most interesting part of my journey is discovering just how emotionally connected we are to specific foods. Moving through those emotions are key to living a healthy, gluten-free life, but it doesn’t come without frustration and some anger. I have sat in restaurants, eating a salad with no dressing, feeling angry to the point of tears while all my friends enjoyed a full menu with no restrictions. Living gluten-free takes courage: the kind of courage to ask for special accommodations from chefs. (That part gets easier, too.) Above all, being honest with those closest to you about what you need in order to eat and drink along with them is important. Lucky for me, I have an amazing husband, family and friends who care that I don’t sit there with raw carrots every time we gather. Educate your people and they will be good to you.
*Not all posts will be this long. I promise.
**I’m off to eat the rest of my hard boiled eggs and slam a large iced tea before a bike ride. Recipes later today!