I'm a huge tennis fan and French Open groupie! I mean what can be better than hanging out in the City of Light and watching Rodger Federer dash around on the red clay?! So for the past couple of weeks I've been reading all about and watching as much of the tennis coverage from Paris as possible, and thinking back to the good old days when visiting Paris meant getting to partake in all the fabulous goodies from every Patisserie you passed and wolfing down croissants...ahhh I can still remember so vividly, ever bite of the last croissant I ate. It was September of 2000 and though I had already been diagnosed with Celiac Disease four months earlier, it was my last "hurrah," so to speak, with my favorite French pastry.

I remember the buttery, flakiness of each bite as my teeth sunk into the delicious and soft middle of the half-mooned-shaped delicacy. There are days, like today, when that memory conjures up not only the taste of heaven, but of all things Parisian...the city sounds, the Seine, sitting along the Ile de Cite...beauty and abundance, abound.

My point today, however, is intended to be more of a serious one...because I was very foolish looking back now, to have purposely eaten straight wheat/gluten months after my diagnosis...but this process of changing over an entire lifetime of eating habits and preferences takes time - a lot of time and a lot of convincing ourselves that we CAN do this. No one should ever kid you - it's tough!

I met a woman last week who is in her late 60's and was just diagnosed with Celiac a few months ago, along with her brother who is also in her age range. She was telling me how difficult this "new life" is and how she still regularly eats gluten, knowing it's just so impossible to completely rid from her diet and lifestyle...mind you she is also Basque and it's a hugely cultural thing to eat bread. A true Basco doesn't feel Basque when having to order a chorizo without the bread - let me tell you - it can mess with your psyche if you don't take the right approach and garner the right attitude. Okay, but back to the lovely woman I was speaking of. So we had this long chat about how she can't break free of still consuming bread or donuts, etc. I kindly and carefully tried to express to her that this behavior can be very damaging and most of all, dangerous to her health and continued quality of life. She nodded her head in agreement and then said, "well, I give it my best try each day but I won't ever completely give up all wheat - I just can't do it."

Though I definitely understand and empathize, I do NOT agree with this way of thinking. I have an Aunt who most likely also has Celiac, but refuses to get tested. She would rather live in misery than face the facts, get tested, and make the correct adjustments to give her some quality of life - I mean really at the end of the day, it's only a piece of bread or a store-bought cookie that we've gone without. Life is so much more than simply food and in this day and age, we as Celiacs have quite an abundance of choices out there to enjoy, and can find almost everything a wheat-eater can consume. There are a plethora of websites now, blogs, on-line shopping and new gluten-free products arriving in stores weekly - (check out my list of sites on the right side of this blog). It is my firm belief that every diagnosed Celiac needs the utmost support from their circle of family and friends and advocates on their side, so if you know a Celiac or you yourself are one, make an extra effort to reach out and teach these folks how to LIVE without the dreaded gluten that can ultimately wreak such havoc upon our health and our lives.

So as much as I cherish Paris and Europe, when I'm visiting I no longer partake in anything that could make me sick...and with the Euro as strong as it is, I'm certainly not going to throw my good money away to be sick in a hotel room because I HAD to have a croissant! We are blessed to be able to eat so many fantastic foods and are even the more healthier because of that fact.

I would still take a night out on the town, in the City of Light with Rodger Federer, but I would have to say, "no merci" when offered that croissant!

Eat safely.

Eat gluten free.

Eat well.

Live with Abundance ~ Bon au revoir.

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