Do you know that I wrote a book last year? Do you know that it’s actually pretty amazing (and yes, it took me months to be able to tell myself that I worked so hard on this project that it’s okay to tell people how great it is). Do you know that even if you don’t believe that last sentence, you can check out my Amazon.com impartial reviews here to verify? Did you know that I can only attend all the great events, conferences and expos that I can because of profits from this book and my merch line? That means without supporting this, it’s really difficult for me to bring back all the great info that I bring to you all. This is a plea that if you like what I’m doing on Celiac and the Beast, consider supporting me with a book purchase. Yes, it’s like an NPR or PBS pledge drive. Thank you all SO much for all of your support so far!
You can purchase the book for cheap on Amazon.com here. Or, if you choose to support me directly, you can purchase it here. Because I want you to buy it, and love it, I’ve included a list of chapters and the ENTIRE introduction to the book below so you can get a taste of my writing and the book!
Here’s a breakdown of the chapters:
Introduction: The Gluten-Free Preamble to the Ramble. . . . vii
Disclaimers: Read This Book at Your Own Risk. . . . xi
My Celiac—Not Yours, but Still Awesome. . . . 1
Getting Diagnosed: The Dream Scenario That No One Ever Gets to Have . . . . 11
Returning to Gluten: The Gluten Challenge and Reuniting With Wheat . . . .19
Does My Villi Look Fat in That Picture? A Tale of Upper Endoscopies. . . . 27
Let’s Talk About Butts: A Story of a Girl, Her Rectum, and the Scope That Loved Her. . . . 31
Mourning the Death of Gluten: Rebirthing Your New Life Sans Gluten. . . . 39
Why Celiac Is the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me: Shooting Rainbows Out My Ass. . . . 47
First Timer Mistakes: What I Learned and What I Want to Teach You. . . . 55
Dining Out Part 1: Learning to Trust the Stranger Taking Your Order. . . . 63
Dining Out Part 2: What If I Work in a Restaurant?. . . . 77
Dining Out Part 3: Examples of Situations Where I Wanted to Punch Someone in the Face. . . . 87
Combating a Fad Dieting Myth. . . . 99
Food Bullying: Why Do People Have to Be Assholes?. . . . 107
Disordered Eating and Gluten-Free Diets: More Than Just Obsessive Label Reading?. . . . 115
Dating Gluten Free: Finding the Wheatless Man or Woman of Your Dreams. . . . 125
Gluten-Free Family and Events: How to Not Stab a Family Member at Thanksgiving. . . . 133
Navigating Shopping—To the Grocery Store and Beyond. . . . 143
Gluten-Free Traveling—How to Survive the Unknown Outside Your Comfort Zone . . . . 149
The Power of Support: Support Groups . . . . 153
Gluten-Free Expos: How to Shove Grocery Bags Full of Free Food in Suitcases. . . . 157
What’s Next: How to Be a Gluten-Free Advocate. . . . 163
The End: Burned Bits and Acknowledgements. . . . 171
Introduction: The Gluten-Free Preamble to the Ramble
I wish I could tell you that if I ate a bowl of Pasta Roni right now, I would swiftly crap my pants.
I only wish this because then you would plainly see that something is very, very wrong with my insides. But no, unfortunately I can still eat a bowl of Pasta Roni (or any other delicious shitty, cheap pasta meal from a box with little nutritional value) and keep on going like a champion. Only days later would I feel lethargic and bitchy and riddled with anxiety. Days to weeks later I would develop giant sores on the inside of my mouth and on the back of my tongue that would render me speechless and probably crying in my car listening to Sad FM (annotation 1). While this may seem like the diatribe of a crazy person (and sometimes I believe it might be), this is just my life with celiac disease.
Most of you probably read the above diatribe and said, “Ugh! Why do I want to read the book of someone who isn’t crapping their pants at the mere sight of a pancake like I am?” Well, actually, I am just like you. While my symptoms may be different from a typical celiac (although, what exactly is typical considering that this scallywag of a disease has 300 symptoms (annotation 2)), I experience the same life post-gluten as every other celiac — and that’s what I’m here for.
Just in case you’re not sure about what celiac disease really is, let’s give you a refresher course. According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center,
“Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disease like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmune means a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks one of the body’s own tissues or cells. When a person who has celiac disease eats gluten — a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley — the individual’s immune system responds by attacking the small intestine and inhibiting the absorption of important nutrients into the body.”
While life with celiac disease or gluten intolerance (now called Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity — NCGS) is not a pretty life, it’s the only one we have. And while life with celiac disease shouldn’t be about smiling, faking it and pretending like rainbows are shooting out of our respective asses, I’m about to make a bold and positive statement about the disease.
Being diagnosed with celiac disease is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
Go ahead; call me a name right now. You’re not even doing it behind my back. Just think of the worst name ever and call me that for saying the aforementioned statement. You’re probably saying “(expletives deleted) Who does she think she is? This disease has ruined my life, etc.”
Well, it is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I can tell you briefly (although I will provide an in-depth explanation throughout the book) why it is.
- I finally understand what’s wrong with my body
- My diagnosis gave me a game plan for the rest of my life
- It’s allowed me to meet so many new friends across the country whom I never would have met otherwise
- It’s a litmus test for friendship and relationships
- It’s given me a purpose in life: to educate and advocate
Let me hit you with another bold statement that is also true.
Being diagnosed with celiac disease is the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me.
Now, I feel like I’ve accomplished some cool things in my life that were also pretty difficult. I got my degree from college and graduated with honors. I worked in market research, giving research and development reports to some massive Fortune 500 (and above) clients. I’ve gone on live TV and once cohosted a show on a major network. I’ve put myself into therapy before, which is something considering how difficult it is for a Type A personality to admit they aren’t perfect. I’ve fallen in love. I got a tattoo that is now considered seriously regrettable. I started freelancing and didn’t know when my next paycheck was coming. I also own a snake (annotation 3). I even started my own website and apparel line with all of my life savings.
But, going gluten free has been my hardest endeavor yet. I always tell my readers that it gets easier — and it does. Everything does. Your brain is a magical creature, and it’s really good at homeostasis — regulating processes and maintaining equilibrium. Living gluten free will become second nature to you. Everything that is hard now — and everything that makes you want to sit in a corner and cry, possibly crapping your pants or throwing up in your handbag — well, that will all get easier too.
It will never get easy — but it will get easier.
However, I believe that things that are hard make you a better person — at least I think I’ve become a better person because of it. Struggles build your character and make you a badass. Every one of you who survives another day as a celiac is an honorary superhero. So strap on your cape and pat yourself on the back. You are a champion, conquering the wheat-filled world, one gluten-free cupcake at a time.
See, I’ve already got you thinking about the positive side of this diagnosis. Either that or you already put the book down and are searching for something on television. Might I suggest Family Guy reruns?
But listen folks; don’t put the book down yet. I mean, you probably purchased it already, so it would be a waste of your money if you stopped now. I promise: there are some really crappy (literally) parts of this disease. It’s not easy, so I’m going to give you a lot of real talk — and real stories — that tell you all about my experience with the disease.
And eat that gluten-free cupcake for Christ’s sake; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
1 Yes, I just referenced Bridget Jones’s Diary. This was a pivotal book and movie for my often-single early adulthood. I often thought my first book would be much like it. Too bad I fell in love soon after diagnosis. Oh, fate …
2 This stat was taken from the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, but you can easily see this if you ask every celiac to tell you their incredibly varied symptoms. http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/living-with-celiac/guide/symptoms
3 Seriously, why did no one warn me as a child that I was about to purchase an animal that lives 40-plus years in captivity? You should have to sign a legal document before purchasing an animal that will probably outlive all of your major relationships and purchases