It's a question that's haunted the human mind for centuries. The mirror asks it of young girls, all flat chests and prebuscent hips. Exhausted new mothers gaze at their babies and shake their heads. Even business men in power suits can't escape the worry: "Am I enough?"

I've sumo-wrestled this issue before: celiac and body image, the struggle for self love. I even thought I vanquished it from my mind - as much as a teenage girl can in this society, anyway. But, during my family vacation to Houston, it's popped up again. Even after a day full of city exploration, thrift store shipping and simple conversation, I can't stop picturing me - the weirdo with celiac disease - as a burden

At the ice cream parlor! (I ate a Microbar)
I've been dreaming of my summer vacation to Houston ever since I incinerated the last final of my freshman year. As a marine brat, I grew up on wheels instead of in grandma's kitchen. So, underneath the skyscrapers and freeway exhaust, Houston has always felt like my one stable home. Hot (Hellfire hot) as it may be. 

So, I walked out of the Houston airport feeling confident about living gluten free in the Lonestar State. Heck, I thought, I survived a road trip from Cali to Colorado. I survived a gluten-oblivious Outback at Utah! I can survive anything! 

Texas ain't got nothin' on me! I thought...
Except, I didn't account for the memories stamped on every street corner from my summer visits as a child. The BBQ stop with the best brisket in town. Sweet Tomatoes, where we'd binge on salad, flat bread and a brownie with soft serve. I started drooling before I even saw the sign for Lenny's, home to my favorite (gluten-filled) chicken salad sandwich

And then there's the stress of planning. Like with the roadtrip, I came fully loaded. Restaurant list? Check. Find me Gluten Free App? Got it. And a suitcase full of special food? Yep, we snuck that through security. And yet, as successful as my eats have been (full reviews of which are coming soon!), some nights I just wanted to curl up and cry because I couldn't have Whataburger with the rest of the family. 

My version of Whataburger…thanks Red Robin!
I know my family loves all of me, even the celiac. They've told me multiple times that they'll take me wherever I need to go to get safe, good food. No questions, no complaints, no worries. Just love. But, I hate forcing them to face the crowds of Chipotle during rush hour because that's all I can eat. I hate cracking open the piggy bank to pay for my special grub

What I hate most, though, is the jealousy that can fill me when I glance at my younger sister. Not only because she can devour fried shrimp and chicken fingers with nary a stomach rumble, but also because I see Hannah growing into such an interesting, intelligent young woman whose life is dominated by random facts, animal obsessions and more books that a retired librarian. A woman whose life doesn't depend on checking the box: "gluten free." 

Always on the look out!
So far, my trip to Houston has been an astounding mix of contrasts. A careful (hungry) child to a planning college student. My pre-diagnosis dining adventures vs my deliberate (and still terrified) gluten free eats. Even my sister and I. 

Yet, one thing hasn't changed: my reflection in the mirror. Staring back at me is the same skinny yet slightly toned, determined girl that I've watched emerge for 18 years. When celiac jumbled my diet, it jumbled my identity as well. Now, food isn't my life, but it's a big part of it. It's my hobby. My health. My hope for healing. And, yes, it is also a rock that can weigh me down. 

I have family behind me!
But as I lay here in bed near midnight after a day of feasting, family, and fun, I nod to myself. Because, celiac or not, I am unique and interesting and unlimited in my own way. Celiac or not, I have the right to eat without worry and the permission to accept others' flexibility when offered. 

Simply put, I am enough. And so are you. 

Do you ever feel like a burden because of your dietary needs? Do you ever think that celiac/food allergies hold you back from your full potential? Comment below! 


  1. You are 110% enough! Allergies do not diminish your worth. I think I feel more bad that I DON'T feel bad about being an inconvenience to my family sometimes. My immediate family understands but my extended....not so much.

    1. Haha I LOVE your attitude! I'll definitely be trying to copy it! I'm sorry about your extended family…can't live with em, can't live without em! ;)

    2. I gotta agree with Rebecca (and you, at the end of your post)! You are definitely definitely enough! I can relate to being jealous of one's younger sister (there have been many times when I've unfavorably compared myself to mine), but it's pretty obvious from the way you write that you too are an interesting, intelligent young woman. Your blog may focus on celiac disease, but your writing is excellent and always contains insights going well beyond what's "on the box." :) Thanks for another great post. Glad you're having a fun (if slightly strange/terrifying) summer.

  2. Casey, BIG HUGS TO YOU BEAUTIFUL <3 This post couldn't have come at a more perfect time, the other night, I was having a "pity party" for myself, I was frustrated and upset with my disease, plans to meet with friends for lunch at one of their houses (where I could bring my own food safely) changed to "let's go out to eat instead." I tried to finagle myself out of the situation, but it would be my last chance to see these two before we all moved and I knew I had to go, I was stressed out and upset and frustrated, they didn't understand how HARD it is for me to go out to eat, and how ordering a salad doesn't mean it's safe, because of cross contamination. In my moments of self-wallowing, I cried, wishing things could be easy, that plans could change and I could just "go with the flow". And I agree with you, it's hard to NOT make food a huge part of your life, when you constantly have to prepare and plan. Someone very close to me will make remarks that I am "obsessed with food" and those words sting more than an accidental glutening, because my "obsession" is for my own safety, and I wish I didn't have to be like this all the time, BUT then, after I realized, I could continue to have my pity party or try and be as proactive and positive about it. So YES, sometimes I feel like a burden, I feel like a pain, and I feel frustrated, but as we said in Rebecca's Guest Post, we must EMBRACE our disease, it is a part of us, and we must not feel annoying or shameful <3

    1. Amber, BIG HUG BACK! I'm so glad that you connected with this post. I never know exactly how my words will be received when I throw them into cyberspace, so hearing that it has touched anyone always makes me smile. I'm so sorry about your stress and I totally understand! And great point! We definitely need to follow our own (sooooo smart!!) advice! ;)

  3. Casey you are MORE than enough! <3 I have had the same thoughts before. I feel like a burden to my family sometimes, and especially when I get glutened, I feel bad that they have to deal with me and my mood swings. Like amber said, staying strong and EMBRACING our disease is the best thing we can do. Hugs <3 <3

    1. Thanks for the positive response and the hug! ;) Oooh, mood swings are the worst! Usually I'm just grumpy the whole time though! Hope your summer is kicking butt! :D


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