Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

January 20, 2010

A Lifelong Response to "Gluten-Free Living"

Edith, I am so pumped that you are starting to try a gluten-free diet, especially since your mother has been diagnosed with celiac disease. I was diagnosed with it back in 2004 as a junior in college, and it was devastating news. I had only heard of it once, as a friend's dad had suffered terribly from it. When the doctor called and told me what I had, I cried! Was it absolutely treatable with a diet? Yes. Was I going to die? Not if I changed my lifestyle. "But I'm Italian!" I remember crying out. "How am I going to live without bread?"

Since my diagnosis, my quality of life has improved 100%. I no longer suffer from severe gastrointestinal pain (which was actually debilitating and took a significant toll on my self-esteem and social comfort), tingling in my nerves, or fatigue. At the time of my diagnosis, doctors were just beginning to test for it on a more regular basis (in my opinion, they still do not test for it enough). I had a blood test and a biopsy of my small intestine. About a year ago, my brother was diagnosed with intestinal damage and his blood test came back positive, too. [Edith, if you want to be tested for it, keep gluten in your system until you get the test. Otherwise, the antibodies won't show up -- it is an auto-immune disorder, after all!] I stopped taking the host at Mass for about a year and only took from the cup, but I find that I am able to tolerate it right now -- some people can't have it at all, and if transubstantiation is right, then the gluten still remains after consecration!!!

I consider my celiac disease a real gift from God. I know that sounds really funny, but the diagnosis came at a point when I was just starting to make strides in getting over a four-year-long eating disorder. At first my disordered thinking had me excited that I was only going to be able to eat fruit and vegetables (or so I thought), but God's grace got a hold of me and made me fall in love with food again. God made me take interest in real nutrition and nourishing the body He gave me with whatever restrictions that entailed for me. Honestly, I LOVE cooking, even authentic Italian recipes from my grandmother, with real and whole foods. There are SO many gluten-free options in regular and speciality grocery stores -- and even Italian speciality stores (as many Italians have celiac disease -- and people of Irish descent, too).

I'm so excited that you posted this, because I am passionate about people learning about this disease. You've inspired me to continue to post on it, and I will be linking to some of my absolutely favorite cookbooks, restaurant chains, and recipe suggestions in the near future. As I prepare to begin our "recipe series" and we meditate on what it means to practice authentic femininity in the kitchen, I will meditate on cooking with allergies and living the good, Godly, gluten-free life. :)


Edith Magdalene said...

Thank you for such a heartfelt post! I had not realized that your diagnosis was fairly recent. And I feel you pain on the love of bread and pasta, as a fellow Italian. But I am so far loving the gluten free food I've been eating, and I have noticed a tremendous difference already -- I think our fellow Italians won't be long in jumping on the train!

wes said...

To both my future wife and Julian, once I heard that Julian was gluten intolerate, I was shocked. I guess that was God's way of padding my eventual rise to gluten free living. Yes, I said it. I am a southern man, who is one heck of a cook and I must find a way to eat gluten free at home. I get the luxury of gluten away from home. However, its not hard and the food we have shared together is quite delicious. Its not really that big of a deal and considering our need for a diet change, it is a blessing.
P.S. Julian you make those boys call you. No facebook messages, as a future father and to all the future fathers out there, THINK ABOUT IT! You want the honor and respect of your daughter taken as a precious jewel. Respected. Its takes a lot of courage to call someone and fall on your face but you got to do it.

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