I was diagnosed with celiac disease in June of 2007. Two days later, my husband of 11 years walked out the door. I was faced with needing to change my whole life to eat gluten free on the new budget of a single mom. It was rough. And it was the most amazing, life-changing, transforming thing that had ever happened to me!
I had been sick my whole life. The first symptoms I remember having
that I can now trace to gluten happened when I was 7 or 8 years old.
After I started having children, my illnesses got much worse, it was
hard to even function on a basic level. I gained weight as my body
stored every morsel I ate because I was starving. I struggled with
fertility problems and depression and chronic fatigue, migraines and
joint pain, and brain fog. I went to doctor after doctor, and no one
had an answer. I was often treated like a hypochondriac. “Oh, I’m
sorry you are so miserable, you are tired and in pain and can’t eat
anything, here are some anti-depressants, loose weight and you will be
happier.” Eventually, my stomach problems got so bad I could hardly
swallow anymore. My Doctor sent me for an EGD and they found celiac
disease! I was 29 at the time. I was sick for more than 20 years before
they found out by accident that I have celiac!
When the Doctor called to let me know they had found evidence of
Celiac, I was devastated. I owned my own grain mill and made fresh
whole wheat bread almost every week in my new Bosch mixer. I LOVE food
and I didn’t know how I would live without bread. At that time there
was not much gluten free food available at the stores and what was there
was HORRIBLE! I had 2 weeks between the phone call and my first visit
with the gastroenterologist. I spent those 2 weeks doing the classic
death march of all my favorite foods and restaurants. I thought I would
never be able to eat out again (and I love to eat out). I went to
Outback with my sister and the waitress asked me what we were
celebrating. Trying not to cry I told her, It’s my last time here
because I have celiac disease and can’t ever eat any more! She said to
me, “didn’t you know, we have a gluten free menu?” She went and got the
menu for me, and showed me that everything I had ordered was gluten
free except the Croutons! Suddenly, I knew it was going to be okay.
There was something I loved that I could still eat! It was like the sun
breaking through the hurricane and making a rainbow. I still wish I
knew that waitress’ name so I could tell her what her simple act of
thoughtfulness meant to me.
Going gluten free was a struggle. I had a hard time finding
information and products, but I felt SO much better. My health problems
disappeared in just a few weeks. I can’t imagine ever going back to
gluten. I was lucky though, I already knew about food. How to cook
from basic ingredients, how to bake, how to make substitutions. But as I
talk to other people with celiac disease, I have learned I’m in the
minority. Most people my age did not grow up learning how to cook.
Pre-made mixes, box dinners, frozen dinners, fast food, even sandwich
bread disappeared over night from our tables, and if you don’t know how
to replace them, what on earth are you going to have for dinner?
A year after my diagnosis, my youngest son was also diagnosed with celiac. I was surprised how much having a child with celiac changed the game for me. He was only 2 years old at the time. I was working, so now I had to provide gluten free foods for daycare and family parties and educate and protect my celiac child.
Add to the mix the fact that we are all so busy in our lives. I’m
a single mom, I need to work full time and get the kids to and from
school, make sure the homework is done, we have piano lessons and
baseball practice. Now I have to do all the yard work and all the
housework and so many things I didn’t do before and I have to follow
this diet where I need to cook everything from scratch?!!? I love food,
but some days, I’m just so dang tired! Now there are many wonderful
gluten free foods on the market, even my local Wal-Mart carries a few,
but they are still very expensive. I have found ways over the years to
make living gluten free on a tight budget and little time more
functional for me.
I’m on a mission to make like better, easier and more nutritious
for other people with celiac disease. I don’t think you should have to
learn it the hard way if I’ve already figured it out! This is my passion and drive in life. As part of this
mission, I went back to school in 2009 and got a BS in Food Science and
Nutrition. In 2011 I started Goodness Gluten Free with a friend of mine.
We make frozen roll dough and cinnamon roll dough that is sold to
stores. Currently they are only available in Utah, but hopefully they
will be in more places soon. I wanted to combine the fresh bread you
bake yourself taste with the convenience of something already made and
felt that frozen dough was the best place to do that. But I have so
many recipes and ideas to share that are not part of my bakery, so I
decided to share them here.