Letting Go of Gluten: Tiffany’s Celiac Disease Success Story
4 min read
After living 25 years as a self-described “carb queen,” Tiffany suddenly began experiencing symptoms classic to gluten intolerance, like fatigue, joint pain and GI distress. Since her father has Celiac Disease, she suspected she had it, too, but she didn’t want to face it – until cutting out gluten changed her life. In this special guest testimonial, Tiffany reveals:
My whole life I was a carb queen. One of my favorite snacks was honey cinnamon Graham crackers with canned frosting. That was my jam. I ate all the cereals, all the pizza and pasta. My mom always cooked fresh family dinners with a veggie, a meat and a starch. But when I was left to my own devices, I was buying food out of vending machines. I just had a really terrible diet.
I never had any gluten intolerance symptoms until I was 25 or 26; it was a very slow onset. I felt off and I didn’t ever remember feeling off before. Everything was very fuzzy in my brain. I’d drive home and not realize how I got there. I could fall asleep anywhere. Then I developed serious gastrointestinal distress, which was a much quicker onset. And I was in constant pain. My joints were very, very achy. I always felt like I had pain in my elbows. The pain in my body was the last straw. I knew something was going on, I needed to figure out what it was.
My dad was diagnosed with Celiac Disease when he was in his 40s. I explained all of my symptoms to him, and he kept saying, “Yup. Uh Huh. Uh Huh. Yeah.” I was like, “Oh no.”
I did an elimination diet, but I gave up gluten last because I was pretty sure that’s what it was, and I was in denial. Also, I really didn’t want to give up bread.
I remember being at a restaurant and eating a roll, thinking that this may be my last roll ever. I’ll never forget that. But I eliminated all of the other things – soy, dairy – and nothing changed.
And then I eliminated gluten. I felt amazing in a matter of days – not even weeks – a matter of days. I felt like I could see colors I hadn’t seen before. It was like I’d woken from a dream, like it was a different reality. My brain felt clear, my thoughts were clear, I was awake, I was alert, my body didn’t hurt.
I went to the doctor for blood testing, and he said I was positive for Celiac Disease. I thought, “I don’t need a test to tell me anything because cutting gluten out of my diet has already changed my life. But thanks for the diagnosis, I guess.”
When I first suspected gluten, I had one very dark day because I thought I’d never be able to maintain a diet without it. Then when I actually did it, my life changed so much there was no going back. There has never been a time that I was like, “What if I just had a bite of that pizza? What if I just had a bite of that cake?” Never. It’s never been an option for me because even cross contamination puts me down for two weeks – and it’s a very bad two weeks. It’s miserable and terrible. Sometimes I can’t leave the house because the pain is so bad, and there’s nothing I can do for that pain.
When my dad was diagnosed in the 90s, there weren’t things like gluten-free pasta, and he still wanted to eat his normal diet and be a normal person. There weren’t a whole lot of interesting options. Going out was really difficult and gave him anxiety because there wasn’t the understanding of Celiac Disease in the restaurant industry that there is today. In the 90s, you couldn’t just sit down at a restaurant and ask, “Is that gluten free?” They didn’t know what that meant. Now in 2019, it’s super easy to go out for both us. We have more confidence than we ever had before. You can ask for gluten free, and they’ll have an entire menu for you. It’s absolute night and day.
Reading labels is a lot easier nowadays, too. Foods will say “gluten free” on the packaging. I look for hidden sources of gluten like modified food starch and artificial and natural flavorings. Labeling has become amazing. We used to have to read every single ingredient. Now it will say if something has wheat, dairy or eggs right on the container.
My sister and nephew also have issues, passed along from my father, but it’s manifested in different ways. For my nephew it’s an intolerance, and for my sister it’s an allergy. I’m the only one who has Celiac Disease like my father. My two-year-old son is completely capable of eating gluten like I was for 20 some-odd years, but I am pretty confident that there’s going to come a time when he can’t.
Having a service like Metabolic Meals available to me has also completely changed my life. Not only do I have confidence that the food is gluten free, I know it comes from a gluten-free facility. I don’t have to worry about shared equipment.
I can’t handle any cross contamination. Some people aren’t that sensitive, but a lot of us are. One specific place I’m thinking of used to advertise gluten-free pizza. They were using gluten-free crust, but after they prepared it, the pizza was no longer gluten free because they made it in the same area as the regular pizza. They were sending out all of this gluten-free marketing, and people are eating the pizza and getting sick all across America. They stopped doing that, because a lot of complaint letters were written.
Metabolic Meals is a completely gluten-free facility and a controlled environment, so I know that it’s safe. I don’t have to worry that they’re preparing regular food on the left while making something gluten free on the right. I don’t have to worry that somebody forgot to wash a knife before cutting a gluten-free product and now it’s got gluten all over it from the knife.
With Metabolic Meals, I can pick anything that I see and know that it’s going to be perfectly safe for me. And it’s all delicious. Basically, it’s all I’ve been eating for the better part of a decade. It’s my breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s my snacks. It’s essentially my diet, every single meal. To be able to open my refrigerator and know everything safe is amazing.