Have Celiac Disease? 4 Reasons to Love Going Gluten Free

Having celiac disease certainly comes with its challenges, especially at first when you're learning how to go gluten free. But in honor of the end of Celiac Awareness Month, I wanted to share a different perspective than many people often share: what's freakin' AWESOME about going gluten free after a celiac diagnosis!

Have #celiacdisease or just get a #celiac diagnosis? Here are four reasons to love going #glutenfree, from learning to cook to eating MORE foods!

So the next time you get glutened or feel frustrated at having to read every food label, here are a few benefits I try to remember...and I hope you’ll be able to find comfort in them, too

1. You’ll become a lot more educated about food...and perhaps even master a few gluten free dishes.

Pre-celiac, I barely touched the oven or stove on a regular basis. I could whip up baked potatoes, boxed mac and cheese and frozen chicken nuggets...and that's about it. But by my sophomore year, my college cafeteria could no longer make me celiac-safe meals, and I was on my own. Cue the steep learning curve of everything from chicken pot pie to pesto zoodles to my favorite allergy free pizza. And today, I can proudly call myself a foodie and an amateur chef without feeling the need to laugh.

Have #celiacdisease or just get a #celiac diagnosis? Here are four reasons to love going #glutenfree, from learning to cook to eating MORE foods!

You (hopefully) won’t experience the same pressures I did to force you to learn how to cook. You might even be fortunate enough to have other people – whether it’s your parents or college cafeteria workers – make your meals for rest of the near future. But even if you don’t cook your own meals, you’re still going to develop some major gluten free cooking superpowers. You’ll know how to read ingredient labels. You’ll discover tasty alternatives to old favorites, like swapping wheat-flour tortillas with rice tortillas in your grandma’s famous enchilada recipe.

And you might even end up falling in love with cooking like I did. You can find countless gluten free recipes to try on websites like mine, in cookbooks or on Pinterest. And every time you nail a new gluten free recipe (and yes, even microwavable mug cakes count!), your celiac disease diagnosis deserves a little bit of the thanks.

2. You may have more variety in your diet overall!

Before going gluten free, would you have considered yourself an adventurous eater or more a plain-meat-and-potatoes meal repeater?

Have #celiacdisease or just get a #celiac diagnosis? Here are four reasons to love going #glutenfree, from learning to cook to eating MORE foods!

If you said the latter, that may change now that celiac disease has entered your life. Personally, I was a suuuuuper bland eater pre-celiac. I’d never even tried sweet potatoes, avocado, sushi, dragonfruit, olives and countless other foods I now love. Once gluten was taken out of my edible equation, though, I felt extra determined to try as many gluten free foods as possible and expand my dietary boundaries.

So if you do find yourself feeling bored or restricted with your new gluten free diet, I’d encourage you to experiment with the gluten free foods you’re already eating. Some delicious places to start include:

  • New fruits, vegetables, beans or cuts of meat. And keep your eye out for seasonal fruits or vegetables to try at different times of the year.
  • Less common gluten free grains, like millet, amaranth or buckwheat (which actually doesn’t contain wheat)
  • Processed gluten free products you haven’t tried before...and you can check out this list for some starting inspiration!

3. When you do eat out, you’re a VIP.

Although eating out gluten free can be scary, it is true that celiac disease often makes us VIP diners (especially if you’re at a very food-allergy-aware location like Disney World). Many times, a manager or head chef has personally delivered my finished meal to assure me of its safely. While celebrating my dad’s birthday at Outback one year, the waitress even surprised us by bringing out the gluten free Thunder Down Under cake instead of the typical free birthday brownie, since she knew of my dietary requirements.

So if you ever feel self-conscious or uncomfortable because of your “special diet,” flip those feelings on their head and say, “Heck yeah, I am special, for better or for worse!” And when you find a restaurant or a chef that makes eating gluten free "easy" and delicious, give your thanks and spread the word!

Have #celiacdisease or just get a #celiac diagnosis? Here are four reasons to love going #glutenfree, from learning to cook to eating MORE foods!

4. You can actually feel AWESOME...just by changing your diet.

One of the most awesome things about celiac disease? Changing your diet can actually help you feel better and stop struggling with celiac symptoms!

Of course, I’m not minimizing how hard going gluten free can be. Plus, it's important to recognize that, for some people like me, going gluten free wasn’t enough to start healing after a celiac diagnosis. However, compared to other diseases with no cures at all or expensive or painful treatments, it is empowering in a way to be able to largely influence your health with celiac disease by what you eat.

One day, a gluten free diet may not be the only treatment for celiac disease, and there are several drug trials going on right now. But until a true “cure” for celiac disease is manufactured, try to focus less on what you "lose" with a gluten free diet and more about the health, vitality and happiness you can gain.

After all, nothing is more awesome than waking up a few months (or even a few years, depending on your pre-diagnosis intestinal damage) after being diagnosed with celiac disease and going gluten free, and realizing that you actually feel better than you have in ages.

Have #celiacdisease or just get a #celiac diagnosis? Here are four reasons to love going #glutenfree, from learning to cook to eating MORE foods!

Going Gluten Free: The Bottom Line

Going gluten free can feel overwhelming at first, as can adjusting to a celiac diagnosis. But if my nine years of living with celiac disease have taught me anything, it's that it WILL get easier and there ARE many pluses to livin' the gluten free life!

Let me know in the comments - what benefits have you found from going gluten free?


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