When I was little, it was very common for me to have stomach aches and headaches and all the other painful side effects that I experience when I go off my gluten-free diet today. I was frequently in doctor’s offices or hospitals in immense pain. It was after a serious reaction to gluten when I was about 4-5 years old, that my parents decided to take me to another doctor where I had a blood test. My doctor diagnosed my mum and I with Coeliac Disease. I, along with my parents, had no clue what it was and had never heard of it. My biopsy confirmed I indeed had this autoimmune disease. We met with a nutritionist who explained that I would need to cut out all wheat, flour and other starchy food items from my diet. I’d also need to limit my dairy intake because I was told I was lactose intolerant.
In the beginning my gluten-free diet was difficult. There was only a fraction of the special-made gluten free items in my supermarket that I see now and I felt weird not being able to eat what all of my friends ate. All restaurants had some form of contamination with gluten, which I was highly sensitive to. The birthday parties I went to always had the typical chicken nuggets, party pies, fairy bread and birthday cake which I could not touch. I would feel guilty when someone asked why I wasn’t eating their food and if I wanted them to make something especially for me.
Over the years, I have had many accidents where someone didn’t fully understand what my diet allowed me to eat, and would answer my questions with – “yes! This is 100% gluten-free!” (Not knowing what the heck I was talking about.) Some allergic reactions were more severe than others, some rashes itchier than others, and some more painful than others. I now have a whole range of other allergies I did not know I previously had, but my Coeliac Disease is what affected me the most as a kid, especially with all of its associated conditions that I have been diagnosed with.
But today at almost 18 years of age, my diet is strictly clear of contamination with gluten products and I don’t need to worry about getting sick. Every restaurant I have been to has at the very least some gluten-free option that I can pick and supermarkets now have their own health aisle dedicated to all the yummy food I can eat. I have more energy than I had when I was eating gluten as a kid. My stomach aches are not as common. My gluten-free diet is easy! It has been made this easy by all of the 100% gluten-free specialist stores like Gluten Free 4 U, and the kid in me is eternally grateful for them.