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Thursday, January 4, 2007
My Life as a Celiac
I have decided that one of my New Year's resolutions for 2007 is to start a blog dedicated to Celiac Disease and living gluten-free. I read many blogs on these subjects daily and often find myself wanting to share the information I am learning. From new restaurants, to new product announcements, to gluten-free vendor fairs, there is just so much information out there for people with Celiac Disease to learn.

I, in no way, consider myself an expert on Celiac Disease but I do have a very long history of eating gluten free and living a healthy life with CD. I was a very sick toddler. I stopped growing, was extremely underweight and considered malnourished, and clearly was not thriving as a child that age should be thriving. I was diagnosed with celiac disease before my third birthday in 1981. I believe that my parents and I were quite lucky to have found a "radical" doctor suggest a gluten-free diet more than 25 years ago. Within weeks, I started acting like a normal 3-year-old and starting developing normally. My doctor's belief at the time was that I would probably remain on a gluten-free diet for the rest of my life.

In kindergarten, my gastroenterologist decided to give my parents the option of giving me a gluten challenge. During this challenge I would be able to ingest any foods I wanted, even ones containing gluten. I vaguely remembering talking to my teacher and telling her it was ok for me to eat pretzels and cookies for one day only. Needless to say, I was extremely sick and bed-ridden for the days following. My parents agreed to keep me on the gluten-free diet forever and started actively looking for products that were gluten-free every chance they got. My mom started ordering my breads from Ener-G Foods and I still buy bread by the case from them to this day.

Throughout adolescence, my teens, and my college years, I found sticking to the gluten-free diet to be very challenging at times. I would be out with my friends and I would want to taste "normal" food like pizzas, cookies, bagels, etc. I would take small bites thinking that this would do no harm. Yes, I know this "cheating" is a very taboo subject in the celiac world but I guess I see it as any part of growing up and life. People know that they shouldn't smoke, but they still do. I knew gluten was bad for me, so I ate it. I was probably worst during my college years because I felt like a college cafeteria would never cater directly to me. I was one in thousands so why should I ask the kitchen to prepare special foods for me. I got terribly sick with mono at the end of freshman year and I fully blame it on my poor diet. I was constipated for days on end and sophomore year I lost a ton of weight because I was so sick. By junior and senior year, I no longer had a meal plan and I was getting back to being healthy again.

In the past year or so I have become extremely active, again, in Celiac Disease message boards, meeting groups, and event planning. I have learned so much in the past few years, mainly from those of you who have been newly diagnosed with celiac disease. It is amazing to me how (to this day) many of you are the ones who suggest that you might have this to medical professionals after doing extensive research to diagnose yourselves. I recently met a woman who was literally told by her doctor "I don't know about celiac, why don't you read up about it and come back to me with what you have learned." I was floored when she told me this story, but it is unfortunately all too common.

As I mentioned earlier, I am NOT a medical professional or a celiac expert. I am just a 28-year-old female that has been celiac for more than 90% of my lifetime. I enjoy surfing the web to find new gluten-free products, gluten-free recipes, and read stories of other people with celiac disease. I love trying out restaurants and bars that have actually heard about gluten and know how to cater to someone who is avoiding it. I also love to share my story in hopes that this will bring more awareness to the community we all live in. I welcome all feedback and suggestions and will regularly monitor my comments and emails from anyone that reads this blog.

Please enjoy and live a happy, health, gluten-free life in 2007 and for the years to come.

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