For people with celiac disease: One simple way to save a lot of energy

by Seguin on 11/03/2011

Hold on, let’s be clear. This post is for people who are open to it. It’s meant as encouragement for celiac self-empowerment. I offer only things that have been useful to me, people I know, and stuff that has some empirical grounding. That’s all. If you’re someone who tends toward harsh internal criticism, please don’t use these words to hurt yourself. That’s not how they’re intended. Learning to live gluten-free is a process. Honor where ever you are.

Over the years I’ve talked with many people about how they live with celiac disease and sometimes the issue of intentionally eating gluten comes up. People often call this cheating.

From my unscientific observation, it seems that the attitude toward keeping a gluten-free diet is one of the most significant differences between people who regain health and effectiveness and those who have more difficulty recovering physically and adjusting emotionally, after diagnosis with celiac disease.

I’m going to venture that celiacs who thrive are usually the people who put cheating on the diet beyond possibility.

They don’t cheat. Ever.

For them, intentionally eating gluten is unthinkable.

If you’re not someone who has severe reactions to gluten exposure, this might sound excessively rigid or miserably strict. In practice, it’s liberating.

Living from a gluten-free-only commitment frees us from energy-draining decision-making.

Every decision you make costs your attention and energy. If cheating on the GF diet is a mentally available option for you, then you have to decide over and over whether and when you’re going to cheat. Making the decision to be gluten-free once can save a lot effort over months and years.

Celiac people who eat the occasional piece of cornbread made with wheat flour, graham-crusted cheesecake or roux-thickened restaurant sauce, describe wondering, Is it worth it to eat just little bit? Will I get sick? How sick did I get last time? Is this more gluten than that was?

Maybe you’re a celiac who can eat a substantial amount of gluten without too many obvious immediate effects, but you know that your health is adversely affected–perhaps you wonder about the longterm consequences of cancer risk or the many risks of chronic inflammation.

Asking yourself how sick you’re willing to get, now or later, in order to eat something is a lousy choice to have to make. Yes, a good cheesecake is a splendid experience, but if cheesecake is truly important to you then make yourself delectable gluten-free cheesecake. (Or this dairy-free gluten-free cheese cake with nuts.)

Whatever the temptation is, however hungry you may feel right now, if you have a commitment to eating gluten-free-only, it’s just easier to say, No thank you, and to eat later. Or better yet, eat something you brought with you or from your list of safe restaurants, because you had a plan for food.

Living from a clear gluten-free-only commitment frees us to really take care of ourselves.

When you’re clear with yourself about your commitment to being as vibrantly healthy as you can be, declining gluten-foods becomes easier.

When you are consistently taking good care of yourself, asking for help with accessing gluten-free food becomes easier.

Commitment to gluten-free-only eating makes it easier to maintain strategies for having delicious food with you where ever you go. Planning ahead for good eating every day becomes just part of your life, not something you have to decide whether to do.

Maybe most importantly, a commitment to eating gluten-free-only prioritizes what’s really most important, which isn’t convenience or gratification. Convenience and gratification are fine, but are they as important as your getting to be as vital, vibrant, creative and available as you can be, all the time?

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