My celiac disease diagnosis came in the summer of 2011. I’d been experiencing stomach pains and bloating for about a year and—at the advice of my naturopathic doctor—went to see a gastroenterologist.
I was stunned by the positive test results: How could I live without ever eating my favorite pesto pizza again? And what about enjoying a slice of birthday cake at a family party? Those days were over.
The first few weeks after getting diagnosed were hard. Explaining my dietary restrictions and diagnosis to friends and family brought myriad responses: disbelief, pity, and even a lack of acknowledgement—but there was also encouragement and support.
Gluten-free foods and menu items were starting to gain popularity back then—but they weren’t as tasty or plentiful as they are today. I went home and experimented with different gluten-free flours, ingredients, and recipes. Some of the results were surprising (like the cranberry scones that my family couldn’t even tell were gluten free). But then there were the attempts that failed dismally (like the poppy seed cake that after an hour of baking was still gluey, gummy, and completely inedible).
With time, I overcame my reluctance and shyness when explaining my dietary needs to restaurant personnel. Now I don’t miss a beat when I tell others that I must avoid gluten.
It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve gained compassion along the way for the many different diets we all eat—by choice or by chance. The best lesson I gained from my gluten-free journey was this: Don’t focus on what you can’t eat, but instead on what you can. In the end, your health will be better for it.