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I'm a glass-half-full type of girl. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, grave's disease and celiac disease in 2010 and life-altering allergies in 2013. I believe having a positive attitude is the only way to live with dis-ease. I also believe that life doesn't have to be PERFECT for it to be WONDERFUL. Dis-ease is expensive, so I live a frugal yet healthy lifestyle. This is just my blog; my day-to-day story.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Focus on the good.

May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month, so I've been pondering a lot about my celiac disease lately.

I was thinking about my gluten-free diet this week. These days, I'm pretty ok with the gluten free diet. I still get a little sad when I watch cooking shows on the Cooking Channel, because most often they include gluten ingredients that can't easily be swapped out. And sometimes I feel sad when I see Subway commercials because their sandwiches look so GOOD. This week, I was sad because I got excited about Domino's pizza's announcement of a gluten-free pizza, only to have them quickly announce it is NOT safe for those with celiac disease. BUMMER!!

It got me to thinking that the label of "gluten free" has sort of been lost in translation (at least in restaurants). This is frustrating for a celiac, because how one restaurant defines "gluten free" might not be how another one defines it. Some may feel that a food is gluten free because they do not use any gluten ingredients. But what gluten free should mean is that not only does it not contain gluten ingredients, but is also free of being cross-contaminated with gluten or free of spices that may have a gluten anti-caking agent in them (thus, why we celiacs have to order all food with NO SPICES/SEASONINGS on it). It can be tough for a celiac to eat out safely, as you might have guessed, because there aren't any regulations on restaurants when it comes to so-called gluten free menus. So the only way for us to eat out safely is to call ahead of time to the restaurant and ask 20 questions 4 different ways, until we are convinced that the restaurant has gluten-free practices in place. Because like you've heard me say here before, the Mayo Clinic Celiac Center (where I am treated) has determined the amount of 1/54th of a bread crumb of gluten is enough to set off an auto-immune reaction in a person with celiac disease. (Think of a tiny bread crumb that falls out of your toaster onto your countertop- 1/54th of that). That equates to a portion small enough that you wouldn't really be able to see with the naked eye.

Has anything good come out of having celiac disease? Hmm. Good question. I wouldn't call it a gift and I certainly wouldn't give it to you, but I'd say a few good things have come out of it.

1. I've become an amazing cook. I can't believe how many things I can make from scratch! I even baked my own homemade tortilla chips this week. YUM.

2. I've become an expert food label reader. I can identify just about any ingredient on a food ingredient listing and know what it actually is.

3. I've become a smarter food shopper/budgeter. Because some of my prepared/boxed/frozen gluten free foods are pretty expensive, I've learned how to save money on all the other things I purchase to make up for it.

4. I don't eat fast food anymore.

5. I've gained an understanding of other types of food allergies, and feel confident I could cook a safe meal for just about anyone.

6. I've met new friends at grocery stores just by seeing what's in their grocery carts. If I see gluten free food items in their cart and see them struggling in any way to read a label or staring aimlessly in the freezer section, I almost always introduce myself and offer to help them find items in the store. I know that "lost" look on people's faces; I used to have that face!

Having multiple chronic diseases has taught me to count my blessings and not my troubles. I find the silver lining. Or at least I strive to! There are days when I struggle, I mean realllly struggle, days where I feel angry that I can't live an easy, spontaneous-filled life and I have to pull myself back and focus on the good things. Having these illnesses is what prompted me to start a gratitude journal with daily entries of things I am grateful for, because I don't want to focus on all that's been taken away from me. It can eat you up if you let it. My daily goal is to stay positive. Most days I succeed at that, but not every day.

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