What I am Thankful for, as Someone with Celiac Disease

Yes, folks, it’s time for the tried-and-true cliché of “What are YOU thankful for this holiday season?”. To be honest, I am thankful for SO much in my life. My life is really, really good, I have many things to be thankful for on a daily basis and the list would be long (and maybe to some, pretty typical). But I would like to focus on the fact that I have celiac disease for a moment and reflect on how thankful I am in regards to how my environment, friends and family are all so wonderful in helping me heal, thrive and LIVE.

I’m so thankful for:

My wonderful and amazing husband who insists on making sure I am never put at risk, checking and double-checking labels, always looking out for me, always handling “his own food” when we have gluten in the household (it’s not very often, but I find it to be unfair if he can’t have pizza from his favorite place once in a while, I just steer clear of it). He eats anything and everything gluten-free (and likes a LOT of it!), has never once complained while traveling that we have to find a place that is safe for me, enjoys any GF recipe I put in front of him, loves GF beer and never makes demands of me at ALL when it comes to anything regarding food. The most important thing to him is that I am healthy and safe from harm, and living in a GF home is 100% fine for him. He’s never complained about gummy pasta, or having rice again, using tortillas for hamburger buns, he just accepts and enjoys every meal without complaint, and that is amazing to me when I read the horror stories of others who have spouses or SOs that refuse to convert to a GF life to protect their loved one. He’s such a blessing in my life!

Having family that never fails to make sure my needs are met. There is always a gluten-free dessert, always a lot of gluten-free options, and everyone has made sure to be very well-versed in what contains gluten, cross-contamination risks, and other things that come with a gluten-free lifestyle. There is always some Angry Orchard or Strongbow stocked just for me, and my mom especially loves to try new GF dessert recipes. They have never once teased or belittled my having an autoimmune disease and always have taken it very seriously. I think this is SO SO SO important for anyone, of any age, in order to thrive with celiac. If you don’t have the support of your family, I think it can really affect your health, well-being and also self-esteem. I really couldn’t ask for a better family.

Having friends that make extra sure my needs are met whenever we socialize. I have been to parties where there are GF desserts and snacks that are specially marked GF and set aside specifically for me, and I find that so incredibly endearing and thoughtful. Whenever we go out to eat, they never complain about going to a place that is safe for me, and are completely easy-going and have zero demands that things go their way. They take my having celiac seriously, and sometimes even order off the GF menu in case I want to try something. It’s pretty amazing when I think back on all of the good dining experiences I have had with friends. I may not have a million friends, but the ones that I have are gems and I couldn’t ask for more wonderful and selfless people in my life.

Having awesome co-workers that bring in GF treats for me, are always looking out for things that are safe for me to try, and never making me feel left out. Time and time again I find myself pleasantly surprised by this, and I won’t ever forget the time a co-worker went out of her way to get a GF cupcake just for me when we had cake in the office. In fact, that has happened more than once, and with different co-workers! You guys rock on so many levels, seriously.

Thanks to my GI doctors that have helped me through this journey, and I am glad I can be so frank with them when it comes to discussing my symptoms. When discussing bowel movements, bloating, and GI distress, you have to sometimes approach it with a  sense of humor…and I have definitely brought on quite a few laughs and have been called “quite a character/very interesting individual”  on more than one occasion. Hey, I like to keep things lively. But I am so grateful that they finally pinpointed my celiac with no further questions after years of being misdiagnosed, not to mention they have personally called me just to check in, remind me to take my supplements, and have made themselves available if I need them without having to go through 5 receptionists first.  

Thank you to the online celiac and gluten-free community, that is tirelessly working to promote awareness and not taking crap from anyone! You guys have been great on calling out the scams, standing up for what you think is right, getting on the media that dismissively regards the “gluten-free trend” as a fad, and have been vigilant with educating on celiac disease and gluten-free living. You bring us all together when, as a very small part of the population, we can often feel alone. You are a wonderful asset and resource to the celiac community, and I am very grateful to know you!

Thank you to the restaurants that are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of cross-contamination and having knowledgeable staff and management when it comes to gluten-free menus. When I have questions, they either immediately know the answer or they take the time to consult the chefs or management to get a concrete answer. In the first month or two of my diagnosis, I was glutened a couple times, but lately I have found that the staff seems more trained, the menus are clearly marked, and they are really getting wise to safely providing for my needs. It’s amazing to see how things have progressively gotten better in the 2+ years of my diagnosis. And I will give a special shout-out to P.F. Chang’s, Pei Wei, and Q’doba, all places I have gone to multiple times and have had excellent experiences with when it comes to safely eating gluten-free. And believe it or not, I have YET to get a serious eye roll when I ask for a GF menu. That’s a plus. Oh, and lastly, FIVE GUYS for their fries, always guaranteed to be GF. I’m a pretty healthy eater 90% of the time, but there are days where I need that fix, and they deliver.

Thank you to the supermarkets I frequent with the gluten-free sections all clearly marked and an amazing selection of products. I will never get bored eating the same thing, as I am finding plenty of variety and I appreciate how careful you are with being specific about CC possibilities and clearly marking your labels of freshly made foods. Wegman’s is a godsend, and Giant has also been very good to me!

Thank you to all the gluten-free food manufacturers that take a lot of time and care to process food safely and are so careful with disclosure when it comes to cross-contamination concerns. I am finding I am getting glutened a LOT less as of late because the labels have been very clearly marked and I always am made aware when a product is processed in the same facility (or with the same machinery) as wheat or gluten. I am really happy to see more and more gluten-free products that are safely marked as GF certified, it really puts my mind at ease! Oh, and to all the gluten-free beer and cider distributors, I bow to you, it’s been so nice to be able to enjoy a nice cold one after a marathon!

I can only hope I covered everything, and if there is anything you are thankful for that you feel I may have missed, please feel free to comment!

I wish you all a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving. Take some time to reflect, and realize how good you really have it when things in life sometimes seem less than ideal; trust me, we’ve had a rough year with some bumps in the road and are still grateful and consider ourselves quite lucky.

May your holiday be filled with love, family, friends, good food and drinks, and most of all, thankfulness for all the good things in your life.