Celebrating Gluten Freedom & Sharing with the Newly Diagnosed

How would you boil your Celiac experience and GF knowledge down to help someone who is just beginning?

How would you reach back and help the old you – the one left with the cold words of advice (“just eat meat and potatoes”, “just don’t eat bread, pasta or cakes any more”, “just stop eating anything “white” or “wheat”, etc)?

Would you open a GF bakery? market? bookstore? resource center? Or would you join us GF Bloggers? 🙂

Some of the advice we’ve all been given since we started this route or received our diagnosis has been varied, bumpy, unhelpful, brutal, somewhat helpful, unclear, confused, incorrect, …… .

When my health started to return to me, I remember being able to focus on my Master’s program and actually *remember* what I was supposed to get done for the day WITHOUT having to stick post-it notes all over the house and on the door out.

I remember clearly witnessing just how many items in my home were the same ones that I had purchased because they were “healthier” or “had more fiber” and would help my stomach pains. I was awed at the thought that what makes some people healthier, made me incredibly ill and dopey.

I’ve been joking today at work about feeling a little like a bobble-head with sensory overload. It’s a busier than average week with many zany and extremely stressful state mandates being met within a five day period. Seriously. Last week I received a “matrix” (if you will) for my week. This – the giving of a detailed, every 30 minute calendar, completely scheduled with things OUTSIDE of teaching – is unheard of. But so far, I have been diligent in following my color-coded (yellow, pink, green, blue, gray, and orange) schedule life. I did really well until I had to go to the bathroom at an “unscheduled” time.

Really. Those of you who work outside of a system driven by Pavlovian bells have no idea what it is like when 100 adults rush for the same 6 “Staff” bathrooms at the same 5 minute “break”. If you have the liberty of getting up from where you are and using the bathroom at your own convenience and when your body tells you to, then you should be uttering some seriously thanks to the heavens or those who watch out for you.

And there are a lot of people who watch out for us. Just yesterday I ventured in to the very first Gluten-Free store in my small town. Yes, you read that right – a whole, entire market in mini-me Washington dedicated to GF and Allergen -Free foods. (It’s called GF Joe’s Market – and I’ll post about it after I get a chance to interview Joe and take pictures of he/his family.)

I’m especially grateful to the GF community online. I’ll continue to say it too. The advice given to me by my doctor was just to not eat “bread, pasta, pizza, cookies, cakes, etc and you’ll be fine” was not quite helpful enough. And while I thank him for calling me at 8:00PM at home to let me know what was going on, I’m positive that my real lessons came from the GF online community.
Flash forward 8 years.

I learned that a colleague of mine has a 10 year old daughter who was recently diagnosed. We met for coffee to talk about Celiac. We talked about the ideas, hurdles, local markets, baking/cooking, etc. We both brought GF goodies for the other. She brought me a box of chocolate biscotti (Yes, Virginia…there is a Santa!) and I brought her some Angel Food Cake (And, Virginia… even better, there is a Natalie!).

I also brought the new Triumph Dining Guide and Dining Cards. These were sent out several weeks back to several of us bloggers (Ginger and Steve posted about it too). I wasn’t quite sure what to do with mine. It is incredibly helpful and serves as a phenomenal resource. I LOVE the dining cards (all individual laminated cards in English and the target language (like Thai, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, etc) with information regarding menu items that are/are not okay for us to eat. The best part is that the cards are tailored not only that that language, but also that cuisine!

I’m super lucky to live with a fabulous cook – My love. (We call him the “Iron Chef” even though he would never call himself that.) Growing up in Hong Kong and Chicago with a serious talent for cooking, he’s has the touch with food. Combine all that with my enjoyment of eating baking and we have some advantages when eating out. Since we cook often, we tend to know how things are made or what is in them and what questions to ask.

However, being new on the GF diet?

When I started, I carried two cards with me at all times. One 5 by 8 index card upon which I had written everything I COULD eat on one side and everything I could NOT eat on the other. The other card was a list of things that I could/could not eat for me to give to waiters and chefs. Man, I printed a LOT of those too!

So here across from me sat my colleague. She is trying to figure it all out and keep life normal for her ten year old. Her daughter travels for gymnastic competitions and is often gone for practice after school, etc. She needed this guide and these fabulous cards much more than I. And I know she will use them.

After seeing her face when I gave them to her, I think the Triumph Guide and Dining Cards are going on my list of things to recommend or give to the newly diagnosed.

After all, I remember how overwhelming it feels. Anything helps – especially if it allows you to keep moving forward and enjoying life, family, and going out together.

Thanks to Jennifer at Triumph for this gift that has brought smiles to a family in WA and many others. You’re a great asset to our community.

How do you celebrate YOUR Gluten-Freedom?  Let a comment and let me know.  Then pop over to GF Steve and let him know!  After all, he’s the genius behind the movement!  Ginger and I are just along for the ride. 🙂

PS. Triumph has a new blog that has just been revealed. I’ve link to it and you can find that link with the other blog links.


  1. What a beautiful post and I was honored to be included. The online community is a tremendous support to me too. I think I truly began to have hope when I came across a gluten free blog for the first time. xoxo

  2. I’m glad that you posted about the Triumph cards. I have been looking into getting some, and I just wasnt sure if I should or not. We are going to Mexico in May, so I have been at a loss on how to do this. This is our first trip since my diagnosis. Thanks fo the tips, I will order them now 🙂

  3. My salvation was ‘Brain-Talk’, which really found me rather than the other way round. Before I found that forum I was sick virtually every day. Blogging has also been something of a lifeline to me … that’s why I started blogging, more than two years ago now! I realised fairly quickly that I could inspire others not to make my mistakes!


  4. Kristina says:

    I was diagnosed in 1991 when few people had heard of celiac or the internet, so it never occurred me that there might be an online GF community until a friend sent me the link for GF Girl’s website this past summer- and from there I kept finding blog after blog after blog (GF Gobsmacked was the first link I clicked on, because I loved the name!). Like you, I’m a teacher, and I have no idea how on earth you find the time to create recipes and then write entertaining posts about them! I am so grateful for those of you who are willing to share your fabulous recipes, ideas, and experience with others, and really admire you for taking the time to do so.

  5. I just can’t imagine what I would have done without the Internet when I was diagnosed. We’re all along for the ride, and it’s amazing that no matter what our backgrounds, what our beliefs, what our values are, we all share the pain/love/angst/joy of being gf and coming together as one community.

  6. I wanted to thank you for accepting me as a friend on Foodbuzz! For whatever reason, the ‘powers that be’ in the FoodBuzz heierarchy changed my name on there to Life After Gluten…I’m sure just to match my blog. Anyhow, I am going to re-request you as a friend. I’m sorry about that…hopefully you can delete the old one.

  7. Just kidding…it looks like yours is right. For some reason, Carol over at Simply Gluten Free’s foodbuzz has me listed wrong, so I just assumed that it was wrong on yours too….you know what they say abut people who assume things??… 😛

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