Each November as the holidays draw near, many of us reflect on the things in life that truly matter – our friends, family, and the pure and simple things that bring joy into our lives each and every day. It’s a time of year when nostalgia warms our hearts, just like a cup of cocoa warms the body from head to toe.
As we consider all of the good in our lives, it’s important to express gratitude.
Personally, I have much to be thankful for. A loving and supportive family, friends, and co-workers. A job that empowers me to grow each and every day as person and professional. The list goes on and on.
However there is one thing that I rarely appreciate. A part of my life that is often filled with negative thoughts and emotions. And not simply by me. No, others often only acknowledge it for its downsides rather than see all of the good that comes with it.
That my friends, is celiac disease.
Yes, you heard me right. I am thankful for having celiac disease. And here’s why . . .
It Gave Me Answers.
For years, I had a wide array of medical problems, and not just in my digestive tract. I was moody and mean. I would yell at my parents and friends for no reason and couldn’t control my emotions and feelings. I wasn’t myself.
Not to mention, I always wondered why I was so small compared to the rest of my family. Yet in spite of this, doctors always said “you’re fine” or “there’s nothing wrong with you”. Yet my gut (literally) never agreed with those claims.
When I finally was diagnosed with celiac disease, the questions I never had answers to all of a sudden started to make sense. Everything added up for once and my life, so I could finally find some sense of peace.
It Was Treatable.
Though I spent the first 17 years of my life harming my body, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Celiac Disease was treatable.
I didn’t have to take medication or undergo a life-threatening surgery. All I had to do was maintain a diet and lifestyle. Though, it certainly wasn’t an immediate adjustment, I am incredibly thankful that I didn’t have to risk much to be healthy again.
It Encouraged Healthier Choices.
When you are first diagnosed, you have to read the labels on everything you consume. It’s a chore. Therefore, it was easy for me to start gravitating to those items of food that are label-less. So it’s no wonder fruits, veggies, nuts, and meats started to fill my pantry.
Hear me out, I am not 100% paleo or maintain a whole30 diet daily. I am human, so I do experiment with same grains in cooking and baking. And let me tell you, I never in my right mind thought I would know what xanthan gum, guar guar, or amaranth was. But hey, now I do.
It Strengthened (and Exposed Negative) Relationships.
Having been diagnosed with celiacs later in life, many thought it was odd that I all of a sudden had to stop eating and participating in food/beverage related activities I used to enjoy. They also didn’t understand why I didn’t want to go to the day keg or join the gang at Baccis after going to Wings.
Luckily though, some did. And they supported my decision to sit certain events out. Some dare I say it, even started making plans that allowed me to join in on the festivities without being the odd one out.
Want to guess which guys and gals I still talk to today?
It Improved My Cooking Skills.
Though, I do owe a lot to my parents for this having grown up in a “cook from scratch” household, having celiac disease forced me to cook meals for myself every single day. Fans of Malcolm Gladwell know the importance of perfecting a skill set for 10,000 hours.
On weekends these days, rather than going out or brunches and day drinking, you’ll find me raiding the grocery store, sautéing vegetables, and sharpening my knife skills at home and in cooking classes. My free time revolves around exercise, family, friends, and FOOD.
It Introduced Me To New People Across the Globe.
Starting a blog introduced me to a community of people battling with the same insecurities, frustrations, and victories that I never knew existed. It wasn’t just me.
There are millions of people out there just like me.
It Gave Me Purpose.
I never in a million years would have thought that people would turn to me with questions about eating and dietary issues. I’m not a doctor. What do I know? Yet, I regularly get emails and DMs from friends, family, friends of friends, and strangers from others sides of the planet seeking insight or simply saying thank you.
As these notes continued to roll in over the years it was apparent that I had a choice to make. Since then, I haven’t doubted myself. I’ve made it my mission to help those just like me come to terms with the card they’ve been dealt. Because between you and me – it’s not so bad after all.