Happy Memorial Day! And Happy Power Monday! I hope you have some fun in the sun planned for today 🙂 Get out there and enjoy yourself with your loved ones and the glorious welcoming of summer. Remember to pause and reflect on those who have served us to make this country great, safe, and strong! Today also marks the end of the 2014 Gluten-Free Challenge. I have really loved devoting these past few weeks to all things gluten-free and celiac. I hope you learned something and have a new appreciation for this disease and why being gluten-free is no joke for some people. And even though the challenge is over for you, the challenge is never over for those of us with Celiac. We must live everyday with vigilant eyes and compassion for out bodies. We must continue to explain, educate, and raise awareness for out disease which has no cure but to remain on a strict gluten-free diet for life.
However, that does not mean I hate having to be gluten-free or wish that I could eat anything with out a care as to what it contains, where it came from, how it was prepared, or if someone served it with flour on the hands. (Well it might be nice to not have to worry about that!) But I don't pity my disease.
I've said it before, and I will say it again, I am grateful for my Celiac Disease. Why? Well take this scenario that was a reality for me 5 years ago. I had my friend over at my house and we picked up pizza to eat for lunch. After eating my two slices I was okay...for a few minutes. We started watching a movie and just hang out. About 20 minutes later I thought I was going to die. Imagine a 13-year-old girl, with her friend next to her, suddenly over come with the worst stomach and intestinal pain and cramps ever. Should I run to the bathroom or try to sit there and act like nothing is wrong. Well the later option was not an option. I had to do the "O, I'll be right back" scenario and quickly book-it to the bathroom. But this didn't just end there. My friend wasn't due to leave for a few more hours, what the hell was I supposed to do. I had to find my mom and tell her I needed an out. So we made up a lie saying we needed to be somewhere in an hour and her mom would have to pick her up soon. In the meantime, I had to keep running to the bathroom ("I had just drank too much water"). Well after that horror was over and she left, my body was so done, so exhausted, and so sore and in pain. I remember just remember heading just up to my bad and sleeping for the rest of the day and night.
Celiac does not just affect the body, it affects your life too. That was the summer I realized I had a huge problem and I was only able to stomach Rice Chex and crunchy iceberg lettuce. I also starting being able to make connections back to other similar episodes throughout my life where I would be overcome with the worst stomach "hell", but not knowing why.
I am grateful for Celiac Disease because I no longer eat something and 20 minutes later be stuck in the bathroom the rest of the day, doubled over in cramps and pain. I no longer become so exhausted that my body just shuts down and needs to sleep off its own attack. I know now what I can eat and what serves my body well. What will keep it healthy and pain-free. I don't have to worry about being in the car coming home from a dinner at my grandparents on Easter, quietly keeping to myself but inside feeling like my intestines were being ripped out. I don't have to tell my dad to take the next exit so I can run into a store and find a bathroom.
I know what my body can handle. I know what my allergies/intolerences are. I know how to keep safe, thus I am able to live. And I am able to learn. Again, I have said this many times, but the about of information I have learned about food and cooking since my diagnosis is amazing. Quinoa, millet, kasha were something foreign to me, but now is just an everyday staple. I am so surprised when someone has never had it or has no idea what it is. Gluten-free pancakes? I didn't even know how to make normal pancakes. But look at me now, making pancakes every weekend, completely gluten-free...and vegan to boot!
Bring gluten-free has made me a health-conscious eater as well. It has introduced me to veganism and has allowed me to discover my other allergy to soy. Who needs "real" pizza (mind you, my stomach still does flip-flops when I go in to a pizzeria or see someone eating a slice), when you can make glorious gluten-free tortilla pizza's with real whole food ingredients. A health-pie if you will.
Having Celiac has brought on major cooking experimentation and fun times int he kitchen. my first homemade gluten-free dish was Thanksgiving stuffing. I went gluten-free November right before the holiday season. But did I let that stop me from enjoying life? Hell no! I have never let it stop me. I have embraced it and have made it an integral part of who I am. But I don't let it define or limit me negatively. I wear my gluten-free hot loud and proud. I don't let my disease rule me, I rule this disease and make it an inspiration, an ability, a way to honor, life, and enjoy my life.
So Celiac Disease, I am grateful for you. I am grateful for what you taught me and what you have allowed me to do. You have made me a Gluten-Free Warrior!
And now for the link-up! I want to read your week-long gluten-free experience, your thoughts, struggles, recipes, ideas, everything! Use the link up here, leave comments, or email me your story! I will feature these next week and also announce the random winner of the gluten-free goodie box I will put together! Until then, continue to raise Celiac awareness for the month of May and love and support those who have it! Be a Gluten-Free Warrior! (Click the Inlinkz button below to link-up!)
+ If you have Celiac Disease or some other food allergy, are you grateful? Why? What have you learned?
+ When you are faced with adversity, do you embrace it or do you let it embrace you?
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