Accepting the New Normal

Normal has a lot of definitions these days. The high school boy who gets steady B's while playing football. The mother who works all day before cooking dinner for the family that night. For me, though, I'm finally a "normal celiac," healthy as long as I avoid gluten. I'm living the dream! Except, not.

As I've shared with you all in my blog post, my celiac experience hasn't exactly followed the rules. Instead of transforming into Superwoman days after quitting gluten, I canoodled with a liquid diet, nose tube and hospital bed at my lowest point. 

Me and the trusty Nose Tube
A few weeks back into college, life is definitely looking up. I can eat (how simple and amazing is that!). I'm above the 90 lb mark. I'm even starting to run again. And yet, as wonderful as it is to finally be a healthy, fully-functioning celiac, I'm still a celiac. And that fact keeps slapping me in the face. 

I never understood "cheating" in terms of celiac disease. What slice of pizza is worth the insomnia, exhaustion, lack of appetite and general stomach combustion that turns a hard work week into a week from hell? Yet, when I walked through my cafeteria this week, I wanted that slice of pizza. And that chocolate chip muffin and a regular taco and a bowl of the pasta everyone said tasted like plastic. I could picture myself grabbing that last slice of pepperoni pie, fingers burning on melted cheese, and sinking my teeth into crust that has the fluffy, crunchy texture no gluten free option can beat. 

Pizza Hut, how I dream of you!
I've had cravings before, but purposely ingesting gluten had never looked, smelled, and sounded like so delicious! When I called my mom, close to tears about it later, she asked what I wanted, what she could make a gluten free version of, but I couldn't answer. Because I didn't want those foods, per se. I wanted the options, the convenience, the oblivious ease of going to dinner without worrying about a breadcrumb ghosting over my plate. 

Most celiacs goes through the grieving process, progressing from sadness to denial to anger to acceptance. Mine just went in a different order, scrambled by health problems. I realized I would never eat gluten-filled foods again, that I'd always need to pack my pockets with snacks, and that social eating involves more talking than food. Yet, I had this dream in my head that after I became a healthy celiac, living gluten free would be easier. It isn't.

That isn't always a bad thing, though. Because of my limited diet, I take more risks with my palate than ever before. I've learned salads aren't complete without avocado, sunflower seeds and cauliflower; I love all kinds of fish now that I avoid red meat; and olives and crunchy lettuce compliment gluten free pizza perfectly. 

Chicken, avocado, and sunflower seeds - YUM!

Because of my health issues, I am dedicated to watching what I eat and my activity level, skills I will use the rest of my life. And because of my struggles, I've shown my teachers, my dorm mates, and myself that I am much stronger than I appear

Even in perfect health, living with celiac disease in college is about as easy as acing a 6 credit course with a grade based on two exams. Every time a friend offers food without thinking, a club boasts about its "free treats" or the caf whips up a delicious smelling stir fry, I wince inside. Yet, I know I'll win in the endIf I survived being a college celiac as an 88 lb malnourished anemic plagued with constant stomach pain, I can thrive during it as a healthy teen gorging on GF goodies. 

Me after my first run! 


How do you deal with gluten cravings? What was your journey to celiac acceptance like? Comment below!


Comments

  1. For me it was essential to find a really delicious food, a gluten-free alternative to something I'd rarely eaten pre-celiac but was craving like crazy after being diagnosed, donuts. And the trick was that after discovering some really tasty ones, I never buy them unless I have a serious craving for anything gluten-y. Then it's like I'm having a special treat and I can forget about whatever food I was craving, at least for a while. And I'm pretty sure I've gone through the whole grieving process and finally reached acceptance...usually. Sometimes I still revert back to anger or depression.

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    1. Good tip! I definitely have a few gluten free items that I save for when the going get's tough. And I'm not sure if acceptance will ever be with all of us 100% of the time. Tis life - a wonderful life, but still challenging. :)

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  2. I like that term "stomach combustion" because that completely explains it in the least grotesque manner, but explicit enough to get information across. Its definetely a struggle to no longer have the "convenience" of packing up and hitting a drive thru, but not only do my guts thank me, my glutes have a little less padding without all those late night "fourth meals" from Taco Hell... I mean, Bell, did I really just say that?

    Celiac has forced me to actually think about the foods that I put in my mouth and for that I am grateful. A healthier diet all around post diagnosis!

    You are doing great hun, keep up the awesome work and kick Celiacs bum!

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    1. Hahaha. Taco Hell. I'm gonna have to start using that one. And I definitely agree that I have gotten 100% healthier after diagnosis. I used to be pretty healthy, but now I'm definitely one of "those people." ;) Thanks for the support and Celiacs is definitely going down! :D

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  3. Are your meals from chef Urs still as good as they looked in the last post? I would love to have a chef Urs near me! Should make a huge difference. Yay for getting back running!
    Keep on going - again, you are such an inspriation.
    Lou (scotland)

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    1. Thank you for your kind words and thoughts. I am extremely blessed to have a chef so well-taught and understanding of my dietary needs. It isn't a perfect system, but I'll take it! Especially when I have the support of wonderful people like you.

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  4. After I developed an airborne gluten reaction, I've had less trouble dealing with cravings! I don't even DARE to smell it now! hahaha... but I still crave oreo ice cream... How I deal with it? I just keep telling myself it is not worthy, focus on what I've won insted of what is lost forever.
    Being gluten free for 6 months now and on the AIP since July, has taught me what a real human being is supposed to feel!! hehehe
    I love the way you write, so refreshing. Please keep writing, Casey! The Celiac world needs more people with your humor and perspective!

    -Your mexican fan.

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    1. That's some great advice -- focusing on the positive aspects of life has been my special goal for a few months now. I'm so glad that you are feeling better and I hope to be feeling the same pretty soon! Thank you for your compliments and support - it makes all the difference! :)

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  5. Hi Casey! Wow, what an amazing journey you've had to get to where you are today! Your story is inspiring and I hope that it reaches others like you who may not have figured out yet that they have Celiac or a gluten intolerance of some sort. If you're interested in doing a review of our Juti Bar (which is certified GF, of course), send us an email at info AT jutibar DOT com. BTW, Juti Bars are also certified organic and non-GMO.
    To Your Health & Success!
    Matt

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