5 Things That Help Explain Celiac Disease


Grecian gluten
Grecian gluten

1. What the heck is it? And what happens? OKAY. Gluten is a protein in wheat (more rampant in cheap, GMO wheat whose healthy outer-shell is stripped away with machines and chemicals) that blocks these little fibers in your intestines from absorbing nutrients. It’s like a mini battle between bread and your stomach-anemones every single time they meet. What happens? A lot. For me, I experience an immediate pain that shoots all the way up into my jaw and the back of my head. Then, my stomach cramps and bloats, and possibly a few other unpretty things. The lasting symptoms? Exhaustion, bruising, dark eye circles, depression, migraines, and difficulty sleeping. Anyone who wants to tell me “they would die if they couldn’t eat pizza again” should think about what it feels like to have that onslaught of symptoms. I’d rather die than eat pizza, and not in a Gwyneth Paltrow kind of way.

2. It’s not a choice. No, I can’t cheat. And yes, a “little” will hurt me. Nothing irks me more than when someone says, “Oh there’s just a little soy sauce, you’ll be fine.” And you’ll be fine when I punch you in the mouth. If I eat this, or you let me eat it and tell me it’s GF and it’s not, I will spend somewhere between 2-7 days in misery. So yes, I’d rather starve.

3. Not all of us hopped on the bandwagon. I’ve known for about 5 years, back in the day when GF products tasted like gum and spackle. Back when explaining to anyone at a restaurant what you couldn’t eat left you feeling incompetent, exhausted, and so excruciatingly sick of eating salad. I can’t tell you how happy I am about the gluten free movement taking off because it has made my life a whole lot easier. I hate trends, but this I can handle. However, when people say “oh you’re on the gluten free diet too?” or I overhear them saying, “I’ve been sooo bad lately, I’ve been eating so much gluten,” I want to scream A) EAT A FREAKING DONUT AND ENJOY IT BECAUSE YOU CAN and/or B) IT’S NOT A DIET, IT’S MY LIFE (in a really mellow-dramatic voice, complete with wailing emoji faces above my head).

4. I wasn’t born with it. I triggered it. There are a several theories as to what could trigger celiac disease. Sometimes it’s trauma or an illness, and sometimes, it’s eating foods that ruin your gut. For me, I think it was a combination of overdosing on artificial sweeteners and alcohol. I’m no doctor, but if you put two and two together it seems pretty common-sensical that if you are essentially pouring chemicals into your stomach, you’re going to eff it up. Simultaneously, I developed an allergy to dairy. I CAN (thankfully) eat a little butter and a little goats cheese without experiencing a bevy of symptoms (thinking bloating, gas, fatigue, rashes) but I’ll always miss my fallen friend, yogurt. Bread is out though. RIP croissants. I’ll always remember you fondly.

5. It’s a hassle and a half. (Not to be confused with Hasselhoff). I can’t remember which vodkas are made with potato or rye. I REALLY want to be able to casually eat Asian foods (and I’ll probably keel over into a gutter from eating street food when I travel to Asia…or live on Lara bars, which make me feel like I just ate a bag of rocks) without defaulting to plain rice and steamed veggies because every single delicious and unidentifiable sauce has wheat in it (and seriously WHY IS THAT?). Even tacos become problematic because restaurants often batter and fry random ingredients without telling you first. Why is there gluten in salad dressings? And WHY MUST PEOPLE TAINT CORNBREAD WITH WHEAT FLOUR WHEN IT’S CALLED CORNBREAD. Lastly, it makes me feel like a bad person when I have to refuse someone’s food, especially when they made it specifically for me as a “surprise.” There is no casual grazing or acceptance of mystery cookies, which does come in handy during the holidays for one’s waistline but not so much for one’s merriment.

I hope that this clarifies a few things for those on the pizza eating side of the fence. I’d love to hear from those who have the disease and those who are lucky enough to not!


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