The Many Stages of Being Celiac

Before I get started I should say that my writing can be kind of unscientific and I amsure others have different ideas as to stages we go though in life…. And I have to add that some of these stages which I describe overlap quite a bit in my opinion. If you read all my blog postings you are fairly familiar with most of these stages.

First I was in the stage of “total disbelief.” The “No Way this disease can be happening to me” phase! That was for about three days.

Next I was my “denial” stage. I decided that I WILL eat some wheat no matter what. I might cut back a tad; less pasta, a few less slices of toast! I had to give this stage or concept up once I knew much of anything about celiac disease. Still, I was denying to myself that I had to totally give wheat up and fast. I ate more of it regardless of what I now knew as the dire consequences. I was also pretty angry over having to let go of my bestie friend, wheat.

Then it was the acceptance of what must be. I called this my “Farewell Wheat Tour”, knowing I was going to definitely give up all wheat, rye, barley and like products. This choice led to much gorging on wheat items. Pasta was for dinner every single night for a whole week. Lots of wheaty bread….more muffins…more, more, more! This continued until I was positively sick as a dog/horse/idiot!

The “reality” phase of reading up on celiac went on during the Tour phase. But I was still in denial that I shouldn’t be gorging like I was. So no matter what I read I kept stuffing down the pasta, perogies, bagels, etc!

Along came the “toss” stage. This was where I gave away flour, tossed crackers, cleared all wheat cereals out of the house. This went on and on and on. It was amazing how many kinds of pasta I possessed. Ditto for myriad types of flours I could no longer ingest.

During this I was also in the “experiment” phase, early trials. I tried GF oatmeal cookies and was ridiculously pleased that they were tasty. I tried some bread, not so yummy. I was still eating some wheat but I had moved into hardly any more wheat baking and the new GF baking experiments.

The last week of wheat was chock full of lasts. Last bagel, last perogies, last tiny pearl pasta, last Italian bread, last beer, last wheat tortilla. It was a sad painful time in more ways than one!

I started writing my blog and entered a phase of “GF sharing.” Sharing how it felt to give up wheat. Lamenting, being sad and low over this loss. Then, the beginning of the rest of my life as a wheat free person. Exciting, scary, difficult and challenging which overlapped the sad and low feelings.

I should say that the dietitian and many books state that you should not give up bread and pasta but replace them with GF breads and pasta if you want to be successful in the transition to a GF lifestyle. So you have to work at this process of transformation to GF foods.

I would like to think I am now in the “be positive” phase. I do try hard to be positive and dwell on the fun of trying new recipes. It is indeed an adventure to be GF. There is a lot to read in books and on line…on celiac, wheat intolerance and about this idea of modern wheat as a poison in your body. Lots of GF recipes for me to attempt. Many cooking GF firsts in the past two months: first English muffins, first quick bread, first French bread, first tart, first gravy and so on. Since I always loved baking a wide array of treats and cook meals from scratch I had many firsts to do and have not gotten to a lot. It can be frustrating as GF dough is squishy and mushy and cannot be formed the same way as wheat dough. Some things are very similar; quick breads, muffins and gravy. Some like French bread are very different to construct. No more kneading or shaping. It is more of a glopping experience!

As I work at becoming adept at GF cooking and baking I take joy in the learning experience and some thrill at my successes. This will be my “can do” phase and I am planning for it to last a long, long time. I do think anyone can cook GF. The breads are rather easier to construct as there is little or no kneading or forming. If you can measure carefully, follow recipes closely and spoon in soupy dough you can do it! I have started a new recipe book for GF items and have a pile of Xeroxed recipes that need a ring binder home. I debate even keeping my binder of breads and desserts but can’t bare to part with it…not yet anyway.

My dad was a chemical engineer and I find myself channeling him when I do these transformations. I am on my third try to make my favorite breakfast cookies. I think it is almost as good as they were when they had wheat flour.

So, if you are starting GF or know someone who is celiac, some of these stages might strike an accord. I suggest you family members should be helpful, speak positively and eat some of whatever they make! Well, a few bites anyway, even if it is yucky. Be tactful if they are new to baking which is often the case for new celiac patients and their families. Go easy on them in this transitional time as
everyone in the family adjusts to eating GF. Help them be positive and reach the “can do” stage of their new life. You will be glad you did when they bake you some banging good brownies that no one will ever guess are GF! 

 Originally posted in April 2013.  I have made those brownies many times in the past year.  They are my easy go to GF dessert….Image

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