Going Gluten Free
Celiac disease can be physically debilitating, scary and isolating. Going gluten free is incredibly hard, requiring constant vigilance, determination and patience. Despite this, the focus of going gluten free is placed firmly on only the dietary and practical changes required. Adjusting to celiac disease and transitioning your lifestyle to gluten free is bigger than just checking ingredients and ensuring against contamination. All of these changes and adjustments have psychological and emotional impacts which are frequently overlooked, and consequently can have a detrimental effect on your recovery and the quality of your life.
Implementing these massive lifestyle changes so that they have only a positive impact requires a paradigm shift, and until that is achieved everything associated with having celiac disease and going gluten free is often perceived as life limiting. Your mental outlook can either facilitate or hinder your transition to gluten free and your journey with celiac disease. As celiac disease currently has no cure, this is a lifelong journey, so the sooner you reconcile your differences with having celiac disease the better.
The following are attitude changes and mental affirmations I implement to ensure that the consequences associated with having celiac disease and going gluten free have only a positive impact upon my life:
Yes, it’s overwhelming, scary and unknown, but stay calm and focus.
Change your perspective of celiac disease from one of restriction to one of opportunity. This diagnosis is your opportunity to overcome your symptoms and to improve your life.
Nobody is going to make these changes for you. You need to make your life gluten free now, not tomorrow, not after this last cake, now. The quicker you implement the changes, the sooner you’ll feel better.
Believe in Yourself
Your dietician, consultant, doctor, colleagues, family and friends don’t have celiac disease, you do. Nobody knows your symptoms better than you, irrespective of their expertise. Don’t ignore your gastrointestinal symptoms based on what somebody else tells you that you should be feeling.
This is your life, your health, your responsibility. If your doctor and dietician are failing you, and can’t provide you with answers, find out yourself. Don’t settle for incompetence. Empower yourself with knowledge. Most DIY food allergy test kits don’t need a doctor’s referral, cut out the middle man.
Set realistic expectations, not everything is within your control. It is inevitable that you will ingest gluten at some point, either accidentally or on purpose. When it happens; recover, accept it, learn from it and move on. Perfection is unobtainable, even people with zero food allergies still get food poisoning, bloated, stomach cramps – don’t expect perfection.
Remain Solution Focussed
Set backs, mistakes and failures are an important part of life. Without them we will never grow or learn. There will be occasions when you just can’t figure out where the gluten came from, and days where you wish you’d never heard of the word gluten. This is all part of the the journey. Try not to fixate on the mistake, instead focus on what you’ve learnt and the progress you’ve achieved.
Don’t put yourself at the mercy of someone’s else lack of knowledge. Clearly and confidently state your gluten free requirements, don’t rely on luck and just hope for the best. Be that annoying person with a food allergy, embrace it. Acting embarrassed and nonchalant about celiac disease doesn’t convey the importance of your request.
Your circumstances have changed and you’ve changed. Be patient and considerate, but if the people around you are unable to provide encouragement, then surround yourself with people who can. If a certain person can’t stop criticizing your food or telling you how gluten free food is just a fad diet, then have the courage to either set them straight or cut them loose. Life’s too short to listen to their projected insecurities.
Don’t let other people dictate how you feel. As you tell people you have celiac disease, you will repeatedly hear a whole host of pessimistic and defeatist replies, such as “that must be so awful” or “I’m so glad I don’t have to eat that”. Remind yourself, that these are their feelings, not yours. Refuse to allow other people to project their negative emotions onto you.
Be More than Your Symptoms
Your life does not have to be at the mercy of celiac disease. Going gluten free is your opportunity to take control of your symptoms, improve your quality of life and reclaim your future.