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You've Been Diagnosed with Celiac Disease... Now What?

Photograph by Getty Images

Let’s talk about it: you’ve just been diagnosed with Celiac disease and finally all of your problems have a name. You are not crazy. You are not depressed. It's just that your body is attacking your intestines for no other reason that it considers gluten an enemy.

Now, you can sit there and feeling lost and sorry for yourself because the big G is EVERYWHERE, or you can see it for what it is: a second chance. A chance to eat better, to finally know what’s wrong and do something about it.

Food wise, don’t believe for one second what people tell you.

You are entitled to mourn the loss of all the comfort foods you’ve known all your life. You are entitled to feel a little frustrated by the looks that other people give you when you say aloud, "I have Celiac disease so please don’t put anything that be flour based, wheat based around or near me or my plate."

I’ve gone through it. I still feel embarrassed when I go to a restaurant and politely ask them to keep all bread, croutons, and cracker away from my food. Some waiters are very nice and don’t look at me like my sole purpose in life is to make them miserable, and then there’s others who look at me as if I have two heads and should be in a zoo.

Then there’s the reading of the labels. Suddenly pleasurable things, such as shopping at Bath and Body Works, becomes a tour de force, and you start thinking that maybe you should just give up and go home. If you are tired, go home, regroup, and get up the next day and try again. It will get easier.

Food wise, don’t believe for one second what people tell you: gluten free cookies taste just as good if not better than regular cookies. The first week I was gluten free, I was very sad because where we live there are no gluten free sections in our grocery store, and if you dared to ask for some GF products, you got the “you are one of those customers” looks. My husband toured four stores in a nearby town and found a box of Udi chocolate chip cookies. Those where the best Christmas present I ever got, aside from my lovely dog. I was like a kid in a candy store! I tore the box open and sunk my teeth in one: they were moist, sweet; you could actually taste the butter. HEAVEN.

So, cheer up; it’s true some things will be challenging, some things will not taste right on your first try, and some makeup companies will make you see red. But at the end of the day, you will feel better and you will be able to do some things with your family that you couldn’t before because you were always too sick.

If you decide to look at Celiac disease as limiting, you might feel sorry for yourself. If you see it as a light at the end of a very long tunnel, you will understand that your life has finally begun.

Editor's Note: 1 in 141 have Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten which damages the small intestine. Gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, is prevalent in so many foods on the market that receiving that Celiac disease diagnosis can be overwhelming. Tomorrow is Celiac Disease Awareness Day, and we're asking you to share your Celiac disease stories below in order to help out the newly diagnosed.

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