If you’ve ever wondered what a day in the life with Celiac disease is, come on into my world.
~ A Day in the Life with Celiac Disease ~
8 A.M: I wake up and pull my toaster out of its safe cabinet. It’s the second one I’ve had to buy to be my and only my designated toaster. Not to touch normal bread. Not to be touched by anybody but me who could cross contaminate it.
10 A.M: In line at the grocery store and I realize I should probably check the ingredient label on my turkey jerky. It’s literally just meat and spices (or so I think) but I decide to check anyways – remembering the subtle gluten culprits my nutritionist made me memorize. I repeat them to myself: caramel color, malt, smoke flavor…Bingo. The turkey jerky has smoke flavor. I put it back on the shelf.
12 P.M: My family decides to go out for brunch – something we do a lot. We pull up to a spot famous for its waffles, and I know I’ll have to choose eggs because in small diners like this there’s never a gluten free option. And even if there is, chances are it’s cooked in the same waffle maker as the gluten filled ones and I can’t risk cross contamination.
12:15 P.M: I start to build my omelette in my head and wonder if the Italian sausage is gluten free. I shudder at the thought of asking the server to ask the cook to relay every.single.ingredient. back to me.
12:20 P.M. As I order, I smile sweetly and apologetically at the server – as if to let her know I’m sorry for having this disease. I ask her to cook my eggs in a separate pan and see if the cook will put some gloves on as he does so, knowing damn well the chances of that actually happening is slim to none. I’ve worked in a restaurant. I know what gets overlooked and tossed out in the chaos.
3 P.M. I’m back at my aunts house and I hesitate before making myself some tuna salad because I know the bowl has touched gluten. I know the sponge I just washed it with – twice to be safe – probably had gluten particles on it anyways. I make my tuna and can’t help but feel guilty or like I’m failing to be careful enough.
7 P.M. We’re singing happy birthday to one of my good friends, but all I can think about is how everyone at the park must think I’m vain and obsessed with watching my weight because I didn’t take any of the sandwiches from the Subway platter. Or the pizza.
8 P.M. I plead and bargain with myself and am tempted to just screw it all so I can have a piece of that birthday cake, which is my favorite.
10 P.M. Falling asleep, I try to remember that this lifestyle change is a journey, and I’m doing the best that I can.
When my family visited Chicago, pizza capital of the US, my fam surprised me with a GF option that was too good for words
Living with Celiac disease is no easy feat, and it’s often confused with a gluten allergy or intolerance. Let me be clear: my relationship with gluten is non negotiable. We are never ever ever getting back together. Because rekindling our sordid affair would put me at risk for things like stomach cancer, in addition to various other threats to my health.
But it’s not all bad. The upside to living with Celiac disease? Seeing your loved ones rally to support you. I’ll never forget how my dad’s face lit up as he dragged me into what once was my favorite pizza place to see their brand new “We serve gluten free pizza!” sign. Or when my mom decided to go gluten free with me when I was first diagnosed. (I’ve since let her off the hook). It’s my friends calling excited to take me to this new restaurant or bakery known for its gluten free options. Living with Celiacs flat out sucks but the cool thing is it’s never lonely. There’s always someone going through the exact same struggle and someone to applaud you and support you along the way.
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