Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Gluten Free Story: Being GF and finding your "new normal"

{This story was originally posted in September 2011. I pray that this can be an encouraging and inspiring story for you. If you have any questions about celiac disease or being gluten free, please don't hesitate to email me: frugalhappylife (at) gmail (dot) com. I would love to help!}

Being gluten free is not the end of the world. But, I understand how overwhelming it is in the beginning.
In the spring of 2005, I was a senior in high school and was desperately fighting to get a 4.0 GPA. I succeeded, but after the stress, I was very ill on graduation day and for the entire summer. I saw my doctor several times and received different diagnoses each time: acid reflux, ulcer, stress. None of the medications helped. I continued to be ill quite regularly for the next nine months as I started college seven hours away from home. In March of 2006, I lost my mom suddenly and traveled home for two weeks. During that incredibly stressful time, I made an appointment to see my primary care doctor. Because my uncle has celiac disease, I told the doctor, “I am going gluten free. I can’t take this anymore.” He reluctantly agreed.
Over the next month, I felt like a new person:
· I gained (healthy) weight immediately.
· I could lay on my stomach again because I wasn’t bloated.
· I wasn’t so tired and dizzy after eating.
· I didn’t have stomachaches all the time.
The GI doctor saw enough on the endoscopy to tell me that I needed to stay gluten free. I’ve never looked back.

OK, that might not be true. I do sometimes crave gluten-filled foods! However, the cravings have gotten so much better, especially since I’ve learned to cook so much gluten free food that actually tastes normal.
When I was first diagnosed, I was living on campus at college. I went to a relatively small private school and the cafeteria staff was fantastic! They made special dishes for me and baked gluten free desserts regularly. They understood cross-contamination and went to great lengths to find delicious, edible gluten free food.
When I got married, I had lots of learning to do because my husband is not gluten free. Because it’s not practical or affordable to have both of us eating 100% gluten free, he eats “normal” food and I don’t. Many people are shocked by this. I am not a short-order cook – we eat the same meal every night!

A typical meal for us consists of a meat, potato or rice, and a vegetable. We each add bread on the side if we want it. About 50% of our dinners each week contain zero gluten on both of our plates. You can see my menu plans every Sunday on my blog. I bake most things from scratch and make both regular baked goods and gluten free products. We typically freeze our baked goods and pull them out as needed.

While this particular method may work for my family, it may not work for yours. I encourage you to experiment and find out what works best for you and your family. Being gluten free doesn’t mean life is over; it simply means you must find your new normal – and embrace it!


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