My story is pretty simple: girl loves eating food, food stops loving girl. But the journey to where I am today isn’t quite so simple. For most of my life, food was merely fuel. I never had an interest in exploring the culinary world beyond packaged foods and my “meat and potatoes” diet. That all began to change my senior year of high school. After months of acid reflux, nausea, weight loss and other symptoms, my doctor called with the diagnosis: celiac. Suddenly, a word I had never heard turned my life upside down. I started eating gluten-free the week of my senior prom, but that was just the beginning. Even a year and a half later, regaining my health is still an ongoing process.
But it didn’t end with diagnosis…
Months after diagnosis during my freshman year of college, the challenges grew. Because of the pain that food – even gluten-free foods – initially caused my damaged intestines, I looked at nearly all nutrients with fear. Malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies and an inability to gain weight (and at a dangerously low BMI) eventually landed me in the hospital, where I had to be fed through a tube. After celiac stripped me of 20 pounds, I struggled with negative body image. On top of the physical limitations, I’ve dealt with the social awkwardness of avoiding gluten while trying to enjoy the typical college lifestyle.
The journey continues, learning to love food
Despite the challenges, though, I’ve finally reached a place where I can be happy with my body and my diagnosis. Just like my journey with health, my journey with food has its bumps. Eating gluten-free isn’t easy, but it has led to me to discover a love for food! When my school cafeteria couldn’t meet my dietary needs, cooking all of my own meals became the norm (yes, it can be done in college)! It has transformed my life for the better.
Today, my favorite foods are salmon, sweet potatoes, avocado (all three of which are sandwiched together in this favorite recipe of mine!), dark chocolate, smooth sunflower butter (now this is my definition of liquid gold!), pumpkin seeds, dates (which, before six months ago, I never knew existed), homemade pesto, and mixed greens! I eat more vegetables than a vegetarian, learned that avocados make the best accessory to nearly every meal, and can peel a pomegranate without looking like a murder victim.
The biggest and most important food type that I avoid because of celiac disease is gluten of any type. Even if someone touches gluten and then touches my food, I will get extremely sick and suffer from major fatigue, stomach problems and brain fog for a week or so after. I also avoid dairy, since my stomach has stopped tolerating lactose since my diagnosis. Besides those two categories, I try not to completely cut out anything from my diet. I prefer to avoid eggs, nightshades like tomatoes, corn and beef because this elimination tends to make me feel better, but I don’t like to set extremely strict “food rules” for myself. Eat what makes your body happy – but eat what makes your soul happy too!
Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.