Being diagnosed with celiac disease can be so hard. You feel limited in what you can have and often feel alone even in the places that are most familiar to you. I want to take today to share some things I LOVE with you and publicly thank those who have made this journey one that I can celebrate rather than fall into despair with. When I was first diagnosed in 2008 I knew that I was the kind of person who just had to embrace it with optimism or the despair would consume me. I live to eat, not eat to live so this diagnosis came as a complete shock and punch in the stomach. Food has and always was a major part of my life. To be restricted by it was something that I could hardly fathom. I was so incredibly blessed to be diagnosed just a few months after my mom, who is the one who encouraged me to go see a doctor about celiac disease. I realized quickly that not many were as lucky as I was to have a friend throughout this very hard journey. That is why I started Gluten Free Frenzy, to create a gathering place for all of those who needed and friend and someone who understood the journey they were going through with a recent celiac diagnosis. I have found that one of the things I have loved most about this experience is the new bond it has created with my mom and I. Next to my husband, she and my dad (who is my mom’s rock and was an amazing example to me of the kind of man I wanted to marry) are my best friends. We have always been close (except when I was a tyrant of a teenager and thought I didn’t want much to do with them and have always been able to talk and relate to each other but this was a new found comradery for my mom and I. She has always been one of my biggest fans and fought for me, but now we would be fighting for each other to succeed on this life-long gluten free journey. Immediately for me, holidays were changed to gluten free, replacement recipes were found for our favorite dishes and a sense of “We are going to be ok” was something my mom provided. I am eternally grateful for her presence in my life and for her love and positive attitude about being diagnosed with this disease. I look forward to working creating more awesome recipes with her and continuing to energize myself with her positive outlook on life, whatever trials you are dealt with.
My husband is another rock in my life and truly my best friend. He is at times more tidies than I am about reading ingredients and making sure what I am eating is safe. I am so grateful that he too has embraced this lifestyle for me. While he isn’t 100% gluten free, he is willing to not only allow me to cook gluten free for our family but cook gluten free for us too. He has some amazing dishes and is developing new ones all the time. He is the expert gluten free pancake maker and greets us with them every Saturday. Last year he surprised me with the request of gluten free red velvet cake for his birthday and of course I thought he was only doing it so I could enjoy dessert as well but he replied with, “That too but mainly because it is soooo good!” Julia’s Gluten Free Bakery red velvet cupcakes truly are the best! Josh not only encourages me in all that I choose to do to raise celiac awareness but he actually is the one who makes it all possible. Without his talents and expertise in software development, none of my sites would be running, I know that much! He doesn’t just give me a “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea” answer to my new gluten free ventures but a “Yeah, let’s do this. What can I do?” Josh has given me a sense of peace and comfort in knowing that our family, his love and the love of our children are the most important things and that we will embrace whatever health challenges come our way with a smile when we can knowing that we are all in it together. I am grateful every single day for such a loving, devoted man who sees me for me and not for the disease I live with. I will love and respect him forever for the unconditional love he provides me.
The two little boys I have been so blessed with having the opportunity to raise have given me reason to smile even on my hardest days on this celiac journey. My children are always the first to tell me, “It’s ok mom” if I am having a rough day. They are always willing to try a new gluten free recipe and with gusto say, “This is really good mom, I like the food you make!” even if it wasn’t my best attempt. They make me laugh and remember what is truly important. When all is said and done, they will be my mark on the world. They help me become a better, more patient person everyday. I learn far more from them then they could ever learn from me. I am grateful beyond measure for their little personalities and for the unconditional love they show and give me every single day.
Friends are truly the family that is given to us in each of the different places we may end up. I don’t know what I would do without them. My friends here in AZ have become my sisters and are always texting me pictures of gfree products in the grocery store with, “Have you seen this?!” They allow me to bring the main dish like waffles, pancakes, crepes or pizza crust to girls night and they bring the gluten free toppings so I can enjoy treats with everyone else. I am grateful they love me and care about my health enough to do this. I have made great friends in the gluten free community both here and online. My GFF, Julia of Julia’s Gluten Free Bakery has given me an understanding friend who I know I can always call to talk to or ask to join me for a gluten free outing. She is always on my side and has my best interest at heart. Her opinion is one I always trust. Gary of Gluten Free Country Store and the wonderful girls I serve with on our Celiac Disease Foundation AZ East Valley Chapter have also become great gluten free friends to me through this journey and I am thankful for their love for me and the gluten free and celiac communities.
Great gluten free food, products and resources have given me back what was ripped from my hands with a celiac diagnosis. I have reviewed hundreds of products and am still in awe everyday at the wonderful companies out there fighting for us to have the best gluten free products. Wonderful organizations like the Celiac Disease Foundation, Gluten Intolerance Group, Celiac Sprue Association and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness are fighting everyday to provide us with the support and awareness we are in desperate need of. The Celiac Disease Foundation and it’s leaders are especially meaningful to me as they gave me the opportunity to found the Arizona East Valley Chapter of the Celiac Disease Foundation. The local support since 2009 and monthly meetings have given me focus and drive to do more for and in the celiac community. I am grateful to our chapter members who have become my Arizona celiac family. I know, that each of these organizations work tirelessly to find ways to reach all those in need support. The Center for Celiac Research the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University have incredibly talented doctors and staff working day in and day out to find a cure for celiac disease as well as better options for testing. I have had the great honor of meeting many of these talented doctors and raise money for their fabulous facilities and I tell you what, they genuinely care about the celiac community and won’t stop working to help them until they find what they are looking for. Numerous online blogs have provided people with a gathering place to talk, find recipes, product reviews and giveaways. Many have given all of us the public voice that is needed to accomplish new standards for labeling and more.
Some of the celiac and gluten free advocates that have really impressed me include Debbie Deaver of Gluten Free Expo, Karen Morgan at Blackbird Bakes, Rhonda Peters at Rhondscooking, Jessica Meyer at ATXglutenfree, Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Shirley at Gluten Free Easily, Jules Shepard of Jules Gluten Free, Chrissy of Glam Without Gluten, Tammy Credicott of The Healthy Gluten Free Life, Chad Hines of Gluten Free Faces and Gluten Free Saver, Craig Pinto of Kicking 4 Celiacs, Danna Korn Founder of R.O.C.K, Shannon Ford Mrs. United States 2011, Brian Gansmann of The Gluten Gladiator, Brandy Wendler of A Spoonful of Wellness, Jennifer Esposito of Jennifer’s Way, Dana Vollmer, Gluten Dude, Erica Dermer at Celiac and the Beast, Alysa at InspiredRD, Erin McKenna of Babycakes, Ken Scheer of Rock a Healthy Life, Marlow at Gluten Hates Me, Betsy at Gluten Free Betsy, Linda at Gluten Free Homemaker and SO many more that I can’t even name who are on my “Frenzy Friends” list.
So to all of you living gluten free especially due to celiac disease, please know that you are not alone. There are so many people out there who LOVE you and are rooting for you to find happiness and success along this journey. Focus on the things you love and remember we are all in this together. Happy Valentines Day…