You are now diagnosed with a lifelong disease or condition requiring you to no longer eat gluten. How do you feel? Angry? Powerless? Sad? Guilt? Frustrated? Maybe you feel a sense of loss, and you grieve for gluten. Whatever the feelings, they are real!
When you grieve for gluten, not only is it a loss of gluten, but it is also the loss of the association that can come with gluten foods. You may think you can no longer eat your favorite foods, such as pizza, cookies, and desserts; however, you may also believe you can no longer eat special foods at holidays, special events, or religious events. You may also feel like you cannot socialize or go out to eat in a restaurant. As a result, you may feel isolated and alone.
Here are strategies and ideas that may help a person feel better:
1. Acknowledge, identify, and feel the feelings, then let them pass through you.
2. Think about who in your life might be a good support person or a great listener and talk with them.
3. You could join a support group or see a health coach for help.
Please talk with your friends and family about your diagnosis/loss of gluten and ask for their support. Be specific about what support you want from them.
Easing your loss is also about finding joy and doing self-care activities daily. Know that it is okay to simultaneously feel sad and do activities that bring you joy. Activities could be taking a walk, listening to music, getting a massage, reading, meditating, or working on a favorite hobby.
Additionally, coping with loss is about realizing that we are beginning a new chapter or way of living and eating. It’s about changing our thinking from “I cannot eat any cake” to “I will buy a gluten-free cake or bake a gluten-free cake and eat that.” It’s about baking or buying our gluten-free dessert and bringing it to your family’s Christmas dinner rather than going without it. It’s about you bringing your own gluten-free foods to a social event rather than not going at all. You can have a blissfully gluten-free life!
My name is Monica Buzzell, and I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2014. I am a celiac/gluten-free health coach for individuals and families who struggle to protect themselves from gluten exposure. I have solutions that help you easily live and eat gluten-free at home and with friends or family so that there is higher confidence in food choices, health improvement, and a blissfully gluten-free life! Additionally, I am a Certified Gluten Free Practitioner who lives in Vermont with my family.