In 2009, I was at community college, and a waitress in a fast casual restaurant. I was constantly eating chicken fingers, sandwiches & drinking soda without a care. Until I got food poisoned. I’m not exactly sure what the culprit was. But I did notice that things weren’t quite the same after that. Unbeknownst to me, it had triggered gluten-intolerance. I noticed I couldn’t continue the way I was eating. I cut out fried foods, and stopped drinking soda. From then on, I was a “water with lemon” girl and I was munching on ice cubes & lemon wedges in our restaurant kitchen, instead of french fries & mozzarella sticks.
2009 & 2010
I gradually started losing weight, I was always in the 140-150 weight range as an adult, I even got to 160. I then cut lactose from my diet, I was lactose intolerant and tired of not feeling good. I just wanted some normalcy. I tried to eat healthy even though I was still eating out quite a bit. So I would get sandwiches, between classes and Chinese food with white rice and mixed veggies before work, thinking I was making good choices. I noticed I was still shrinking and had very little energy. My knees & my heels would hurt after work..but I thought it was just from constantly being on my feet, working in restaurants for a few years now.
It wasn’t until June of 2011 that my body decided it had had enough. I thought I got food poisoned again. For a week I had to call in to work, because I was so incredibly weak and no food that I ate would stay down. I was sleeping from 9pm to 9am and then still took a nap during the day. I finally overcame my fear and went to the doctor. My stomach was constantly in pain, my ankles were swollen, and the pain in my knees was unbearable. I was tired of being sick. Blood tests were coming back normal, with the exception of a mild case of anemia. I was then referred to a gastroenterologist. After many embarrassing and bothersome tests, all coming back fairly normal, they scheduled a colonoscopy and endoscopy. I cried but it was a month away, enough time for me to wrap my mind around it, or to make myself sick with worry. I tried to stop weighing myself once I got to 110 lbs,(pictured above) it was too scary to think that I could weigh that little, since the healthy weight range for my height starts at 115. It looked like the scary invasive tests were my only option to find answers.
That night my dad was on the computer googling my symptoms, something we hadn’t previously done out of fear. On the internet, a headache and a cough can lead to a scary response that can make you think you are dying. I wanted no part of it. I hid in the other room, and he asked if it could be gluten-intolerance. I had no idea what that was. He rephrased, could you be allergic to wheat? I thought no…I had eaten a lot of sandwiches on wheat bread and felt fairly fine..but when I read it was not like other intolerances that you notice within a few hours I said I would try it, I was willing to try anything.
July 1st, 2011 was the first day of my gluten-free life. I stopped eating my Cream of Wheat for breakfast, and chicken noodle soup and crackers for lunch. After a week, I knew but waited to say it out loud. I wanted to be sure, I had felt so terrible for so long. After two weeks, my knees felt fine, no more sore joints, no more stomach pain and no more swollen ankles. It was finally safe to say that I had found my cure. When the gastroenterologist called to reschedule the invasive tests for another month later, because they had overbooked me, I said no thank you. I never got officially diagnosed Celiac, because you are supposed to get tested before you start your gluten-free diet. But I didn’t need a diagnosis when I had finally started to feel good again. It has not been easy because I had gotten so weak and my stomach was so incredibly sensitive. But now I am in a good place. I am fortunate that I inherited my mother’s creativity and having her teach me the foundations of making food taste amazing. I love trying new recipes and making delicious gluten-free food for my family and friends. I want to share my successful recipes with people who'd like to try gluten-free living.