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College, Work, Travel, And Dating
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Hi everyone,

 

I'm 20 years old and want to share my story and my perspective, on some common issues for people with celiac. 

 

I have been gluten-free for various periods of time in my life, as I tried different diets to help get rid of fatigue, brain fog, and anxiety. When I look back, I can see now that I have been allergic to gluten ever since I was 13, maybe even before then. I ignored the symptoms for the most part, until at 16 I began to realize how I would feel different after eating certain foods. So I tried a variety of different diets over time: Atkins, Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan, and Fruitarian. In between all of these diets I would try to go back and eat "normal" foods again, and would inevitably get sick, and the cycle would start over again. However, some of these diets, particularily Paleo and Fruitarian, made me feel really good. I realized what they had in common: they were gluten and dairy free. I did some research and figured out that I had celiac and was lactose intolerant. I've been on a gluten-free, vegan diet for about 9 months now. It's been tremendously successful for me.

 

However, there are aspects of life that can be challenging for this lifestyle, namely college, work, travel, and dating.

 

College is difficult because the beer&pizza stereotypes exist for a reason - college is full of it. The way I have gotten around it is to have a mini fridge, microwave, and large rice-cooker in my dorm room, which allows me to prepare essentially all my own food. Classes are also only a couple hours a day, so it's no problem.

 

The problem for me right now is with work. I have two internships this summer back-to-back through-out the day. I leave my house around 6:30 am and don't get home until 5:00 pm. This represents a huge challenge to me, as I now have to either bring enough food to last me all day, or I have to bring some food and eat out at lunch. The problem is that there is essentially NO gluten free place in the area I'm working in that can provide me with 100% gluten free food on a daily basis. It's a challenge. Right now I'm just bringing enough food for the day, but it's hard to do. 

 

Travelling is difficult for obvious reasons. You can't prepare your own food most of the time, and you're constantly on the move. However, I've found  it to be significantly easier than work. Since you're not tied down to being in any specific location, you're more free to hunt and explore for places that have gluten-free accommodations. 

 

A lot of people on here have expressed concerns about dating, and I would like to echo some of the advice already given on here. It's really about respecting yourself first and foremost. Celiac is a disease. It is a medical necessity to you that you are gluten free. When you find the right person for you (and you will), they honestly will not care about the restrictions this poses to them. Life is about people and human contact first, and food second. Having celiac has made me more aware, empathetic, and tolerant of others' struggles and disabilities, and it's made me realize that we all have them. Nobody is perfect, and that's the point. When you're dating someone, it's because they want to be around you, not because they like to eat pizza (and besides, there's always gluten-free pizza).

 

So there's both hope and despair, for on the hand being gluten free has allowed me to live once again! It has represented the largest single change that has brought me the most clarity, and I'm very thankful for that. But on the other hand, it feels like it has severely restricted my ability to be free. My life has become more routine and structured and isolated, and I sometimes feel irrationally afraid of the world (filled with gluten). So it's bittersweet, and I'm sure it's a normal part of the process as I learn to live with this. 

 

It's really interesting how much diet truly does matter.

 

 

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So there's both hope and despair, for on the hand being gluten free has allowed me to live once again! It has represented the largest single change that has brought me the most clarity, and I'm very thankful for that. But on the other hand, it feels like it has severely restricted my ability to be free. My life has become more routine and structured and isolated, and I sometimes feel irrationally afraid of the world (filled with gluten). So it's bittersweet, and I'm sure it's a normal part of the process as I learn to live with this.

It's really interesting how much diet truly does matter.

This part of your posts is exactly what I've been feeling like lately. I just go my Dx a week and a half ago(ish), and I've had some people I've talked to that are baffled, I've had some who are familiar with celiac (they have family and friends that have celiac), and some one person (whose mom is celiac and about 100 other food issues) tell me "you're life is gonna suck." Yeah, finding stuff I can safely eat sucks, and seeing things I love that I can't eat sucks. But on the other hand, I'm finally healing physically, I don't wake up to severe joint pain every day, I don't have horrible abdominal pain on a regular basis, and I actually feel up to going out and doing things!

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