I tested positive (through a blood test) for Celiac Disease. There's a lot to it, but the basic outcome is that I can no longer eat gluten. This means that I can't eat anything containing wheat, barley or rye, but it's much more complicated than that because gluten is in A LOT of things. I'm not just eliminating bread, baked goods, and pizza, I also have to look for special soy sauce, eat oatmeal from a "certified" gluten free manufacturer, and check the labels of everything I eat. Gluten can be hiding everywhere and I'm only just beginning to figure it all out.
In addition, I could easily "cheat" and suffer the short term consequences of not feeling well the next day, but there are much scarier long-term effects that eating gluten can have on a Celiac's body. Basically, Celiac Disease (CD) is an auto-immune disease in which the small intestine attacks itself when gluten is digested. So, not following a gluten-free diet when you have CD can lead to other auto-immune diseases, nutritional deficiencies, cancer and other problems.
If the short-term affects weren't enough to make me want to change my lifestyle the day I found out about CD, thinking about the potential long-term damage definitely keeps me motivated to learn as much as possible and start changing the way I eat for good.
It's only been a little over a week, but I've already run a gamut of emotions. On one hand I feel empowered that I can control my health and this "disease" by simply eating a certain way, on the other hand it's overwhelming and frustrating to have so much to learn and so many labels to read before I put anything in my mouth.
It's made me a little nervous to think about how I will deal with it when we embark on our journey around the world - especially when I think about real Italian pasta...
But, I'll cross that bridge when I get there, and for now it's just a constant "adventure" as I like to call it. I do love to learn, so I enjoy reading up on it all - but that doesn't keep me from feeling sorry for myself some days, or sad that I'll never eat a real piece of pizza again. Overall, I'm trying to stay positive and focus on all the things that I love that I can still eat...popcorn, strawberries, many kinds of ice cream, yogurt, broccoli, most chocolate, etc.
Do you or anyone you know have CD or follow a gluten-free diet? I'd love for you to share any resources, tips, or ideas, whether they relate to travel or simply day-to-day life.