I have always had a love-hate relationship with food. I love food but food doesn't always love me. I have Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disease that requires a strict gluten-free diet, and a fructose intolerance.
"What CAN you eat?" is a very common question. It has taken me many years to finally find a diet that makes me feel good, considering it feels like I have 10 million food allergies, but it can certainly be done.
My History With Gluten
I was always super sick as a child. I was very skinny in a family where skinny is not the norm, and I was angry all of the time. Imagine being a moody teenager, but at age six.
It took many doctors and many tests until we finally had a winner: Celiac Disease. This is an autoimmune disease where my immune system basically tries to kill the "poison" (gluten) but ends up hurting my intestines.
Celiac Disease has very serious consequences if left untreated, and the only treatment is a strict gluten-free diet.
What Is Gluten?
"Wheat, rye, oats, barley and malt" is my go-to answer. In 2007, gluten-free had not yet become a trend, nor did stores have gluten-free aisles. So my family and I didn't really know what that meant.
There is definitely a learning curve and very quickly we became experts. My family and I had to become educated in the art (yes, the art), of reading food labels and speaking to waiters at restaurants.
Wait, I Have Another Allergy?
Skip a few years (10 years to be exact) and I was an expert at gluten-free. I can't have wheat, rye, oats, barley, malt. Yay me. But then in junior year of high school, I was sick all the time.
I did the same doctor routine and found out that I also have a fructose intolerance. So basically, no fruits or vegetables. Yay me again. Fructose is complicated though because I can have a little bit whereas with gluten, even cross contamination is an issue.
So, What Do I Eat?
I LOVE chocolate and ice cream. I eat a lot of turkey sandwiches and my absolute favorite food is raw green beans (yes, I know that's weird). I can't have very much fruit but I eat a lot of salad, so it balances out.
Both of my parents are excellent cooks so it is quite an adjustment at college. The dining halls at Ohio State are very good but my options are generally limited. Going out with friends is also sometimes difficult because spontaneity is near impossible with me.
However, I love to travel and try new foods and it is totally do-able. My friends look out for me and choose gluten-free-friendly places.
This summer, my Aunt and I traveled to Italy, the carb-capital of the world, and it was fantastic. I have learned that no matter how much it feels like it sometimes, food allergies are not an inconvenience. Eating is an important part of life and everyone deserves to be able to eat AND feel good.