From Beginning to End with Celiac Disease

Our newest member to the Crush Brands team, Emily, tells about her experience with Celiac Disease.

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First of all, I never chose to have this disease, like many others in the world I struggled getting a diagnosis for over a decade. I’d also like to clarify that although I don’t absolutely have to be gluten free, I’d rather not die a slow painful death caused by dying intestines….

Gluten killed the villi in my intestines, which are the little absorbing mechanisms that give your body the nutrition it needs from the food you eat.

To every waitress and confused health nut, this is not because I’m a hippie or because I’m super trendy! & although I won’t die upon consumption, it will sure feel like it to my insides.

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To tell you the truth, it’s been a long and stressful journey. For years I sought out doctor after doctor, leaving only with words like “we will have to run more tests” or “try this medicine for a month and see if that helps.” With my only symptoms being extremely painful and relentless Restless Leg Syndrome(RLS) and occasional hives.

The medicinal world is great for most people, but waiting more than 10 years to finally realize what was dragging me down was honestly the worst part. (and yes I mean worse than giving up ALL my favorite foods within a 2 hour period.)

My parents have always been extremely supportive of my life, and I had seen doctors throughout childhood to try and understand my various symptoms, but the results were always the same. “She’ll grow out of it.” Well I didn’t. When I turned 18 I decided I have to start researching doctors and finally get to the bottom of this. Thousands of dollars and dozens of tests later I was still at ground zero. My doctors thought I was drug seeking or maybe just crazy. My parents were starting to think so too.

Frustrated, I literally gave up. I stayed on the medicine prescribed and told myself I just have to live with the pain seeping from my legs every night.

FFWD to age 21.

My RLS has become worse than ever, especially with added stress of being a senior in college. Someone suggested I see a hematologist, this blood doctor was apparently the end all be all to my diagnosis issues. Why on earth did none of those dozens of other doctors suggest a blood doctor? I took plenty of blood tests for everyone else, why not see someone who specializes in blood?

I’m glad I listened, because I had given up and settled.

They drew blood and I met the doctor. Within THREE MINUTES…. THREE WHOLE MINUTES of sitting in his office he was able to tell me “I believe you have Celiac Disease” proceeding to tell me that my iron has been at or just above the anemia threshold for god knows how long… and there are more tests to confirm. This time was different, within one dreadfully long and excruciating week I was able to stare my diagnosis in the face and say goodbye to gluten forever.

Goodbye to sandwiches, pizza, chinese food, beer, pasta, garlic bread, chicken wings, pancakes and waffles and most other AMAZING FOODS.

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Day 1 of Gluten Free Diet: Depression

Day 14 of Gluten Free Diet: Anxiety

Day 21 of Gluten Free Diet: Guilt

I was getting more depressed by the day finding out more and more foods that I couldn’t eat. I was anxious because I now had to read EVERY SINGLE FOOD LABEL ON EVERYTHING I INGEST.

Ask anyone… its horribly intimidating.

Then guilt, not only do I have to be gluten free but family dinners, date nights, restaurant choices, recipe books, grocery stores, and state fairs, EVERYTHING WAS DIFFERENT. I honestly struggled with the idea of having to be gluten free around the people I love every day, even when they weren’t.

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Day 45 of Gluten Free Diet: Relief

Finally I saw the light when I met my nutritionist and she opened my eyes to a world of gluten free goodies, tips and tricks and easy things I can do to change. I’m going to share some of those with you today, just incase you hate gluten or maybe it hates you… Either way these things saved me and brought me back to life.

1st: 1 to 1 Gluten Free flour! This is a 100% substitute for any recipe calling for flour. My favorite is in the green box at Walmart in the Gluten Free section. Although it’s much finer than traditional flour it has been the best mix I have found to date. Also you can try Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1, it is more expensive and it has 2/3 the amount of the brand I referred to earlier – also an amazing thing to keep on hand.

2nd: Udi’s Gluten Free bread! This bread is the closest I can get to real bread these days, partially because I have been too lazy to make GF bread myself. Udi’s is freezer bread, I just pop it in a gluten free toaster (designated toaster that has never had gluten in it) or in the oven on broil for a brief period of time. Toast it to taste, soft or crunchy…and I’m back to bread loving for a quick and easy meal.

3rd: Gluten free pasta! This pasta tastes absolutely NO different than regular pasta, unless you eat it plain. My favorite is the yellow box of Ronzoni I use it as a replacement at family dinners, family gatherings and no one can even tell. It truly is a win for me because I can eat it, and a win for whoever I’m with.

4th: Gluten free soy sauce! Don’t spring for the cheap kind, Kikkoman is the best brand & the price is hardly any different. I’ve made plenty of Chinese food recipes at home and they have turned out amazing!

5th: Find me Gluten Free! This app is a life saver when traveling! Seriously, you should download it now. It tells you which restaurants have GF options and which are celiac friendly. Good users like myself typically leave reviews about the experience to help the app and other people who choose to be or have to be gluten free.

Naming a few other favorite brands and restaurants: Snyder’s gluten free pretzels, Chex Cereal, Frito Lay (most of their chips are corn based, double check ingredient list for wheat), Local Oven bakery (100% GF facility), The Cheesecake Factory, BJ’s Brewhouse, Mellow Mushroom, Live – G Free, and Bob’s Red Mill.

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*TIP* Some restaurants in Texas carry GF Local Oven Bakery bread like Smashburger and Great Outdoors, you just have to ask!

*TIP* be on the look out for beauty and healthcare products that contain hidden gluten… Pfizer does not have a gluten free facility and the drug manufacturer told me to stay clear of all of their products and medicines. + steer clear of Cheerios, Annie’s, Ian’s, and GF Goldfish.

Tweet us @CrushBrands – always happy to connect with other fellow celiac’s, or if its your choice that’s cool too!

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