So after I was diagnosed, back in 2007, I had very little information and everyone I knew was completely baffled about what to do with me. I wasn't known as being a super adventurous eater to begin with but I definitely enjoyed eating out and had no problems eating at other people's homes...now? BIG difference...huge!
I went from being just that girl who didn't eat her veggies to "holy-crap-what-do-we-feed-her" girl? Going out for food at a restaurant and going to other people's homes to eat were now something I dreaded. How could they hope to understand what I was dealing with if I barely understood it?
Those early days, I admit, I didn't go out much to eat. In order to order food, I now had to spend at least 10-15 minutes trying to find something on the menu and then another 5-10 minutes explaining to the waitress what gluten was and why I couldn't eat it. Truthfully, I was embarrassed about being Celiac. I used to laugh at those portrayed in movies asking for "no wheat, no seasonings, no sugar, this on the side, that on the side, hold the ketchup, hold the bun, hold the phone...now I was supposed to say all that stuff...I fully expected them to spit in my food and throw invisible darts at my head. I would never be welcome in a restaurant again!
Suddenly, my favourite restaurants (East Side Mario's, Boston Pizza, etc) became the WORST places for me to go! But luckily for me, I had a friend who had family members who also had Celiac and I knew that I COULD eat at Swiss Chalet...yep, I was sick of that place VERY quickly since it was the ONLY place I knew I could eat at safely.
After I cleaned out my cupboards of everything that I couldn't eat and my fiance (we had gotten engaged along this journey) didn't like and my mom got a ton of food for HER cupboards, I now had very little to work with. So I tackled my first main hurdle...the grocery store. I used to LOVE grocery shopping! Finding yummy snacks, planning meals, it was fun...now? I dreaded what I couldn't have and knew that it was going to take me eons to find anything I could eat.
That first grocery store run could have been a marathon. I'm not admitting to how long I was there...and my eyes were worn out from reading labels. If you've never done this...let me tell you, you would be SURPRISED to know what's in your favourite foods...I know I was. Wandering down the aisles hoping for something, anything that would give me hope, I finally stumbled (and yes, at this point I was probably stumbling) onto the last two aisles...the organic section. Typically I blew past these two aisles, carrying my Poptarts, sugary cereal and wheat pasta, but suddenly I thought "what if?" I wandered down the first aisle and nearly jumped into the freezer in pure joy when I saw the words "gluten free" written on not just one but SEVERAL items...I think I bought half of what they had there. The next aisle, the "dry" aisle, had cereals, flours (don't get me started on THAT whole section!) and snacks. I was in heaven...if heaven could BE in hell! I bought way too much but I had accomplished a lot in that one trip. I learned a lot and managed to find out that places DID know about gluten free and that it was possible to eat more than fruits and veggies. Now, what to do with all this information swilling in my brain?? Hmmm...