How important is to have a support system when you are diagnosed celiac?
Practical or emotional support are the first things a celiac needs to have when diagnosed. Forget, for a moment, about starting a new diet. What changes, since day 1 from a celiac diagnosis, is life tout court : from the good (or bad) old habits till the way you look at yourself in the mirror.
Today there will be no food recipes in this post, just a real life approach to celiac disease.
I have been lucky, really lucky, to have an army of family and friends taking care of me when I spent nearly one month in a hospital, in London. But I am luckier to have them constantly by my side throughout this journey.
My diagnosis, as many of you readers might know, was a really difficult and painful one. And I have been asked, many times: how did you manage to take it so well?
The reality is that you don't take it well. You either react or you give up, feeling worse.
Being diagnosed celiac when you are an adult, nearly 30 years old, with an entire past dedicated to gluten and careless meals, it's though. You feel sick, you feel in pain, you suddenly get better and, yet, to feel better every day you'll need to change your everyday.
My parent's care ...is fundamental.
I will always remember my mother and my father looking at me biting my first slice of gluten free bread at the hospital, smiling and encouraging me. Well, the bread was literally awful, but their smile was one of the most supportive actions and I will keep it with me, forever.
They knew I wasn't going to like it and they knew that all I needed to know was "everything is gonna be alright".
A few months later, my mum bought a gluten free bread machine and she now masters the art of gluten free baking, teaching and supporting me in and from Italy. Everything was going to be more than alright, indeed.
Family is key for every difficulty you might face in life but, if you are celiac, knowing that they will always find a dietary solution for you and will always check on your health conditions, is what counts.
My friends ...try a gluten free week every now and then
If you are celiac you know that you won't be able to eat everywhere you go and you won't find food everywhere you go. Having friends organising gatherings, dinner, lunch and whatever involves gluten free food, it does make a difference. Yes, even when you had a way too many drinks and you crave junk food. I have friends who can take me to the safest spots to cure my cravings. But also, make sure that what I have been drinking was gluten free too!
The social aspect of being celiac is the most delicate one: when a celiac knows they are not a problem for your cooking plans, habits or diets; they will feel better about dining with you.
ME ...I try to motivate myself every day
It might sound obvious but many celiacs don't know that the first person to activate a support system to face a new lifestyle is: themselves. I previously said that there is not a good or a bad way to react to such a diagnosis. Either you accept it or you don't.
Accepting it depends on many factors: character, resilience, information and, nonetheless, a support system.
Not accepting it, as a paradox, is easier, but not in the long run.
You give up on the diet that'll make you feel better because you don't know how to cook or shop now; you don't know if you will ever go to eat out again and you don't feel understood when it comes to abdominal pain, bloating and other physical conditions.
The effort you put in accepting your existent condition of celiac is the same other people will put when they are around you, if you allow yourself to just be a celiac.
If it starts from you, then the process of acceptance will invest everyone around you.
This list breaks down the celiac's support system into three main areas: yourself, family and friends. What about the tools you can use to better engage with these three main parts of your life?
Medical Advice and Research
First of all, when I have been diagnosed, I relied a lot on my doctors' advice and on a big research on the topic. If you research your disease (without diagnosing yourself with other illnesses from Doctor Google) then it'll be easier to deal with it! Within the main sources of advice,
(Associazione Italiana Celiachia) were really helpful for me. So, check them out!
Experimenting without giving up
Secondly, I tried every gluten free product out there! And I keep trying them, so I have new favourites every day or I can forget about certain brands forever.
Being celiac in 2020 is a way better than in the past. Thanks to the production of gluten free goods on a larger scale (to please whoever can't or don't want to ingest gluten), the offer we get in small and big supermarkets is huge. I wouldn't say that is as good as the variety you get, but only trying them out, you'll discover your must-eat.
Cooking at home
Being able to cook a meal at home is the first step towards a healthy lifestyle, given the fact cross-contamination is real. Thankfully, there are plenty of gluten free recipes creators, chefs, bloggers and foodies out there, ready to inform you with the latest trends in the industry. I am not an influencer but, you might find some interesting gluten free Italian food recipes on my blog! I made them thinking celiac.
Sport and activities
Before being diagnosed I have never been able to run, exercise or do any other activity without feeling sick. I didn't have stamina and I didn't even want to do sport, in that condition.
It was a vicious cycle and I slowly became lazy. What happened after the diagnosis, then? Instead of thinking about my body as a cage, I started feeling it like my temple.
The doctor also suggested to start the gym and get back on my feet with another attitude.
Every time I finish a 7k run or a 1.5 hour training I can't help thinking that if it wasn't for my celiac disease, I could never be the best version of myself.
In conclusion, being celiac can mean turning your life upside down or just adding some value to it. Having a support system is key, starting from yourself is fundamental.