Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten (a protein found in Wheat, Rye and Barley) leads to damaged villi in the small intestine. This damage can result in nutrients not being properly absorbed in the body.
Celiac Disease is genetic meaning it runs it families, however there are people who carry the gene for Celiac Disease (HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8) but do not have active Celiac Disease.
On average patients suffer with symptoms of celiac disease for 6-10 years before getting being diagnosed.
In my case it took about 7 years of symptoms with multiple doctors and appointments before my gastroenterologist saw I had celiac disease during an endoscopy and took biopsies.
In my opinion this is one of the few diseases where I hear people say they are relieved to find out they have celiac disease. This is because people FINALLY know what’s wrong and how to treat it.
At this time the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherance to a gluten free diet. For this reason I will talk a lot about gluten free foods, established brands, and what is safe and not safe to eat.
I will not lie and say this diagnosis doesn’t change anything, because that’s not my experience. I’m someone who lives by a strict gluten free diet (fortunately my last endoscopy reflects this) and my life is very different than it was pre-diagnosis.
→ I don’t live in a world where I can spontaneously pop in to a restaurant with friends, glance at the menu and order food just like everyone else at the table.
→ I preplan meals and take food with me everywhere just in case I get stranded some place without gluten free foods available.
→ I’ve had to take responsibility for myself and make sure I don’t end up in situations where I’m eating questionable foods because there just aren’t other options.
→ I’ve also found out how supportive my loved ones are and who is in my “town.”
In my experience your life will be different, but it will be good again. Take time to grieve while building a new routine with the support of your Town and you can still have a full life… without gluten.
Here are a few topics to get started learning about celiac disease: