Natalie’s Story

My Diagnosis Story...

Natalie’s story

When I was growing up, I would constantly overeat. I mean to the point, 20 minutes after a large dinner I was starving. We used to go to a buffet restaurant in town and after eating, the salad, the main, the free rolls, and dessert, I was starving. No one could figure out why I was so hungry and why I was not losing weight. Growing up playing with playdough or baking cookies would break out my hands and they would constantly itch. From about 1997-2012, I developed daily headaches. Headaches that would send me to the hospital emergency department. Doctor after doctor no one could tell me what was wrong. They went as far as giving me botox at the base of the skull to help. In 2004, I was diagnosed with IBS. I had the back scratch allergy test done in 2003 and it showed I was allergic to wheat. The doctor didn’t tell me anything about this and I went on my way. In 2012, I was 27 and in a college course when I was telling a friend about my headaches. She suggested that maybe I was Coeliac, explained what it was and about being diagnosed with coeliac disease. So I went home that day and decided to give up gluten just to see.

Hidden gluten…

That was the first day that I didn’t have any headaches. This was also the day that I learned playdough and cookie batter contain wheat. To this day I cannot touch products containing gluten because I know my hands will break out in an allergic reaction. After all those years of itchy hands and hives, stuff started to click. After about a month of being gluten free, I spoke to my neurologist who advised I stay off gluten if that is what it took to be headache free. I moved shortly after to the UK from the USA and have maintained my gluten free life. From 2012 to 2015 I lost about 50 lbs due to becoming gluten free and being diagnosed with coeliac disease. Throughout this journey I developed several health issues, like food allergies, seasonal allergies, fibromyalgia, and others.

Things have begun to improve…

My health is better in the UK and I have seen massive improvements with living here for the past 7 years. I no longer have stomach issues and my IBS hardly acts up. Others ask me if I wish I could go back to eating ‘normal’ food. I laugh and tell them no, I do not mind being gluten free and being diagnosed with coeliac disease.  For me, it was a lifesaver. I have an amazing boyfriend who when we go out makes sure there are gluten free options available. If there is a family gathering at his house he makes sure all the food is gluten free so I won’t be left out. I love being gluten free- it means no more daily headaches, and on the path of becoming healthier.

The most challenging, in the States is soy products being added to most of the gluten free food. I cannot tolerate soy in the States. However, in the UK I can eat soy with no problem. The main challenge I find here is the lack of gluten free food at cafes. Sure there may be a brownie, but it would be nice to have the variety and choice. Non coeliacs have a choice as well as people who eat Vegan, but not celiacs. There is hardly ever a choice.

My advice for newly diagnosed with coeliac disease…

My first tip: read every label! The shopping trips are long, but it will be worth it in the long run.  Read labels at friends houses. They may say it is gluten free, but it may still contain barley or malt. Check every product label.

My second tip: Ask questions. When you go to a cafe or restaurant make sure you ask if the item you are buying is gluten free. For some reason gluten seems to be in everything, even syrups they use for milkshakes at cafes.

My last tip: Do your research. Gluten is in everything from food, to shampoo, to makeup. Make sure the products you are buying are gluten free. There are a lot of sites that test products, new products all the time. I learned this year that the toothpaste I was using contained gluten. Luckily I gave it up about 4 years ago, but it was shocking.

I have attached the picture of my gluten free chocolate chip scones. I didn’t have enough to make one more scone- so I opted for one giant scone at the end 🙂 It was tasty and nice to share with my boyfriend.

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