How Celiac Disease Changed my Life
Posted on September 08 2021
Not many people realize celiac disease is a life-changing autoimmune disease. I mean, I didn’t even realize how much my celiac diagnosis would change things until I started living gluten-free.
But let’s not get ahead of things. Before you can truly understand how celiac disease changed my life, you first have to understand what celiac disease is.
What is Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that impacts the small intestine. Specifically, the duodenum of the small intestine is damaged when you eat gluten. This damage to the small intestine can cause a wide array of symptoms.
Symptoms like anxiety, depression, brain fog, diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, reflux, headaches, joint pain… I could go on.
The key thing about celiac is that there is no cure. A strict gluten-free life is the only treatment. Which for many (including myself), unexpectedly changes everything.
My Celiac Journey
Celiac disease changes everything, and for me, celiac disease meant answers for the years of digestive agony I faced. You see, it takes an average of 6-10 years to be diagnosed with celiac, my family and I strongly suspect it took me longer.
While there is a wide range of emotions many people feel at diagnosis, for me I was relieved. I stayed relieved for quite some time because my diagnosis was empowering at first. If I avoided gluten, I would feel better. But I quickly moved through the many stages of grief with celiac.
I began to realize that the food system wasn’t built for me, that eating gluten-free was going to be much harder than I anticipated and my doctor offered me no guidance aside from “just eat gluten-free”.
It took me a long time to adapt to a gluten-free diet and heal. As I realized over the years, going gluten-free changed how I interacted with the world. Celebrating life events at restaurants became scary, meeting friends to catch up over lunch became a struggle.
Because as a society, we gather around food. It’s tied deeply into our cultures and traditions and having to strictly live gluten-free meant learning to navigate a world I didn’t fit into anymore.
As I healed I experienced these changes first hand, I found a love for nutrition and helping other celiacs find confidence with gluten-free living too. Which has ultimately made me passionate about spreading more awareness about celiac.
The Importance of Celiac Awareness
Ultimately, I and many celiacs go years being misdiagnosed before finally receiving an appropriate diagnosis. Celiac awareness is so important because it can help reduce diagnosis time and provide support for more people with celiac.
Perhaps the most important thing to know is that if you or someone you know is struggling with GI symptoms, make sure the doctor tests for conditions like celiac.
I went years with no tests and a diagnosis of IBS that was based on assumption, not data. With more celiac awareness, I hope we can reduce diagnosis time and improve care; both in the doctor’s office and in the world.
Tayler Silfverduk is a registered dietitian who specializes in helping people with celiac stop fearing food and find confidence in gluten-free living. You can find her at @celiacdietitian on Instagram or visit her website at Tayler.Silfverduk.us.