The moment you're diagnosed with Celiac Disease is usually a relief. You're then told (vaguely) what you can and can't eat, receive the dreaded endoscopy (complete with Exorcist sound effects) and are thrown back into the world of gluten. Cue never-ending awkwardness with any situation involving food, raging OCD, and a lifetime of bread that looks like it's been the target for a sawn-off shotgun. All that - and we haven't even mentioned the civil war going on in your intestines. Contrary to the general public's assumption, Celiac Disease is not an "allergy"; it is a serious genetic autoimmune digestive disease that attacks the villi (the finger-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients) when gluten is present, causing inflammation that causes the villi to shrink. If untreated this can lead to a whole string of complications such as osteoporosis, infertility, iron deficiency, anemia and cancers such as lymphoma. This is worrying, because, with over 300 symptoms of Celiac Disease, diagnosis is extremely elusive. Some people pass enough gas to power an entire village, some look like they're due to give birth any minute and others develop chronic itchy rashes. Whatever the symptoms, one thing about Celiac Disease remains prevalent: it's damn annoying. Still, we must remain upbeat in our struggle against the big G. After all, it makes food more exciting: how overjoyed were you when you found out Nutella was gluten free? What follows are 23 problems we Celiacs can all relate to and make light of. It may take a day, a month, a year, or five years to recover; but don't give up. After all, you can still have champagne.
23. When A Family Member Uses Their Dishcloth On Your Pan
There's no avoiding it - the moment you're diagnosed with Celiac Disease is the moment you develop absolute raging OCD. As much as you try not to burden your family, the occasional outbursts of "Don't use that sponge!" and "I can't have vinegar!" will remain. You've reached the conclusion that you're probably best off in strict gluten free quarantine, and never leaving.
22. Feeling Psychotic When You Check The Waiting Staff DEFINITELY Ordered The GF Dish For The Third Time
Celiac Awareness has far to go, but we are fortunate enough to have dedicated menus in more and more restaurants these days. Chains like Pizza Express, La Tasca, Pizza Hut, Wagamamas, TGI Fridays... it's a lot easier to spot the crossed grain symbol on the go. No more cross-examining the chef about his choice of non-stick before settling with a salad, but that doesn't stop your inbuilt paranoia checking just one more time that the pizza coming is definitely gluten free.
21. The Unspoken Bond When You Meet Another Celiac
The prominence of social media groups makes life a hell of a lot easier to communicate with other Celiacs. Facebook groups like "Gluten Free And Me" can be wonderfully efficient and supportive when you're desperately confused with the ingredients on a Wonka bar and just need a quick "yes/no" response as to whether you can eat it. (If you're wondering, Wonka's Millionaires Shortbread and Chocolate Nice Cream are both GF - thank you Oompa Loompas!). It's comforting to know you're not the only person in the world fighting a war against gluten, so when you meet someone in real life with the disease, it's inevitable: you're immediately best buddies.