I’ve now been living gluten free (or at least trying to) for five months. Throughout these five months I’ve gone through quite a few different emotions, both good and bad, in my discovery of the changes I must make to my life… Relief, loss, excitement, health, acceptance, more loss and so this continues…
Relief – At first I was just so relieved to finally know what was wrong with me that I didn’t quite realise how hard living gluten free could possibly be. For months I had been feeling so lethargic with hardly any energy. I could hardly run even though weather conditions were perfect and I always felt horribly full and bloated after eating, even when I didn’t feel I had eaten enough to feel that way. Iwas feeling down and irritable and my visits to the bathroom were not exactly the most healthy you could say. When it was confirmed to me one day in August that all of this could be down to coeliac Disease I felt so relieved. I wasn’t sure exactly what this would mean for me but I hadn’t been feeling blaaaa for no reason and I now knew what was causing it all!
Loss – My favourite thing to eat is cereal and this has been the case for as long as I can remember. Mixing various cereals at all times of the day is my favourite treat and not something that I ever could have imagined was causing me to feel so terrible. I felt like Juliet when she said of Romeo ‘I must love a loathed enemy’ If someone had asked me a year ago which food I couldn’t live without I would have said without a doubt, cereal! On discovering I could no longer eat ‘normal cereal’ and try whatever new box caught my eye, I was left to discover some way for us to continue being together. At first I found myself tearing up in every cereal aisle I passed through…the search for gluten free cereal was on!
Excitement – I started to find out about everything that I could still eat and also started researching some naturally gluten free products that I hadn’t tried before. Friends and family were giving me gifts of gluten free things they had found, every time I went to visit, and some of them were really good. I began experimenting with meals and found some delicious results! I also managed to find lots of gluten free cereals, much to my relief, some of which are pretty damn good too!!!!
Health – My health, both physically and mentally, improved pretty quickly once I stopped eating gluten. My energy was returning and I wasn’t feeling weak and lethargic half as much as I had been. I also started to develop a much more positive outlook on things, I was less irritable and best of all I was able to run again I went from barely able to run 5K in the summer before being diagnosed to running good distances almost every day. I’m running a half-marathon in February and also training to become a fitness instructor!
Acceptance – I started to accept what I can and can’t eat and although life would be a little more difficult from now on, I would be fine as long as I was careful, sensible and organised. I check the labels of everything I plan to eat, even if I’ve eaten it before, I check with restaurant staff before ordering and I’m always prepared with something gluten free when I go somewhere that there may be nothing suitable.
5 months on: The excitement of discovering and trying new things to eat would have been great if this wasn’t something I was going to have to live with forever. Soon the excitement faded and I was left with lots of things that I loved but couldn’t eat anymore. This sounds really bad but it’s not all depressing. While I’m definitely not loving the prospect of having to check everything I want to eat for the rest of my life, I think I’m coping pretty well and I’ve encountered some delicious gluten free treats that I wouldn’t have even considered were it not for being diagnosed with this gluten hating disease. What I struggle with most 5 months on isn’t finding something I can eat because there are plenty of things that I can have but it’s social situations, eating out and travelling where I have the most difficulty. It’s going to parties where I can’t eat the cake and nibbles that everyone else is having, eating out when I’m not in control of what’s being prepared and most of all travelling to countries I haven’t visited before and often can’t speak much of the language. These situations get me down because quite often being unsure about what’s in something means that I end up missing out.