I just received a call from my doctor on some lab testing I had done last week. I tested positive for Celiac Disease…. It’s something I’ve thought I may have for years, but didn’t want to face it. Don’t know what Celieac Disease is? Well here, let me quickly educate you!
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. 2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications.
When people with celiac disease eat gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley), their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage on the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, that promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.
Celiac disease is hereditary, meaning that it runs in families. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.”
My sister was just recently diagnosed with Celiac too, so my risk was pretty high already!
Long-Term Health Effects
Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems. These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers.
Well I definitely got the short stature part, standing at a mere 4’11”!
Just Another Bump in the Road
As you all, at least those who’ve been following my blog or even just on Facebook, know, I have a history of two eating disorders: Anorexia and Orthorexia. So, having Celiac is going to be hard for me to avoid triggers – but I know I can do it!
Through my eating disorders over the past 15 years or so, I’ve gone from restricting calories and basic nutrition to my body to restricting taste and foods that I love. Now, I have to go back to restricting foods that I love, bread, pasta, bagels, GLUTEN, due to the autoimmune disease… Of course the reasoning for the restriction is totally different, but to my mind it almost feels the same.
BUT, I’m a fighter, a survivor, and this disease is just another bump in the road on my journey through recovery, through life.
I’ve always been one of those people who thrive on chaos, big deadlines, and stressful situations. Heck, I wanted to be a journalist for the longest time – even went to college for it! I love staying busy – challenges make me happy. So, I see this as another challenge. And yet another disease that I can speak on and shed light on/bring awareness too.
I think going gluten free will also help me in competing in marathons and triathlons! I’ve always had terrible stomach issues, especially when competing. Hopefully dealing with this disease the right way will improve my performance as well!
More Stigma to Erase
Also, this gives me another disease to break stigma on! I hear A LOT of people going gluten free for diet, weight-loss purposes… So, when people hear about others going gluten-free, there’s a stigma that they’re doing it as a fad diet, the weight-loss purposes. Not many people know what Celiac Disease is, just like most people don’t understand mental illness like eating disorders.
I see my doctor next week to find out the next steps. I’ll share more on my journey of becoming gluten free whilst also avoiding triggering myself of my eating disorders.