I am so excited to share this guest post with everyone! A good friend of mine, has celiac disease and when I think back, I still remember her talking about the diagnosis back in high school. At that time this disease was uncommon and hard to comprehend but she has learned a great deal about celiac over the years and I wanted to share her story.
I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease almost a decade ago. At that point, I’d never even heard of gluten nor did I have any idea what foods it was in. I remember the exact moment I learned of my diagnosis; I was cutting a slice of my mother’s ridiculously good lasagna. "What the hell is a gluten intolerance???" was my first response. After finding out that gluten was found in wheat, rye and barley, I wished I had found out 15 minutes later so I could have at least enjoyed lasagna one last time.
I panicked. What was I going to eat?? I was 19 so my diet consisted of bagels, burritos and pizza. No mac' n cheese?? How does one live?? To add insult to injury I was leaving in 10 days to study abroad in Europe for three months. Goodbye schnitzel and Sachertorte. I would never get to enjoy the delicious sausage and mustard baguettes that I’d daydreamed of so many times. No Nutella crepes and baguettes in France? I might cry! The dream of pasta and pizza in Italy, gone! I went to Europe having just been robbed of my possessions and now my ability to eat. I was the only girl on the trip to lose weight! Can you imagine gallivanting around Europe for three months and LOSING weight???
When I returned to the States, I learned more about Celiac, but this was before the allergen info was found on nutrition labels and waaaaaaaay before everyone had advertised their food as Gluten Free with big, inviting letters. If I asked for a gluten free menu I’d be given a look as if I had six heads and referred to the manager. Grocery shopping was a nightmare and I had to settle for sandwiches that were gritty and dry and crumbled in my hands. I am a lover of food and am willing to try anything (within reason, no grilled tarantula for this girl!), but this was a huge challenge that took much of the joy out of eating.
That was 2002; this is 2012 and man, times have changed! Almost every restaurant I go to has at least a few gluten free options. Chefs can make gluten free foods because they are educated on what it is and what to avoid. Want a cupcake? No problem, Whole Foods, CakeLove and Sweetest Sin are just a few places that sell gluten free versions. Craving pizza? Mama Lucia's, Z Pizza and Lilit Cafe in Bethesda will be happy to serve one up. Pretzels? Just go to Giant. Pancakes? Grab a box of gluten free Bisquick and a cup of berries and you’ll have some delicious pancakes in just a few minutes!
Going out of town and nervous about eating out? Download the FindMeGlutenFree app, which gives you the gluten-free menus for chains as well as finds places that exclusively cater to a gluten free clientele. Craving cheese sticks? Just google it and the hardest part will be to figure out which recipe to use. Gone are the days of eating dry, gritty bread now that I have Sami Bakery! They provide me with delicious breads without the ridiculous calorie content of some earlier gluten free options out there. My point, my fellow glutards, is that we don't have to give up food or flavor these days; just alter the ingredients a little. I hope this helps anyone who is recently diagnosed- happy eating!
Thank you again Arielle for sharing! These are great tips for anyone with a Gluten Intolerance.