I was talking to a friend the other night on the patio and she also has gluten intolerance. We began chatting about this and that, and one thing led to another, and this question came up: In what other ways has Celiac Disease (CD) changed your life besides your diet? I decided to share some of the bits and pieces of information we discussed in the hopes that it may make your life a little easier if you were just diagnosed and wondering what it all means.
The first thing my friend mentioned was the difficulties she had with her life insurance company once the biopsy revealed she had CD. Her life insurance company requires annual physicals and the doctor reported CD on the questionnaire. The result was higher premiums were charged for the new policy year. She was lucky she already had life and health insurance before she was diagnosed, because she believes she would have trouble finding companies that would insure her.
Her advice is to buy insurance before a biopsy is completed because the diagnosis is not “official” until that point.
My comment concerned how to maintain energy during exercising when I cannot eat the traditional complex carbohydrates found in grains. I love to exercise and have been a runner and aerobic dancer for years. Muscles use glycogen for energy and that energy comes from foods like carbohydrates in wheat, barley and oats which I cannot eat. But the good news is you can get those carbohydrates by eating grains with no wheat gluten like white rice. Also fresh fruits and vegetables have complex carbohydrates and you should be eating those anyway.
I never stopped exercising, even while recovering from the damage to my digestive system from eating gluten. But if you exercise while not getting enough vitamins and the right kind of food nutrients, you will feel worse than you already do if you are still healing. So be very careful to listen to your body and give it what it needs to maintain energy.
Another issue that both my friend and I had to face was the propensity to let the subject of gluten intolerance become an obsession. I had felt so bad for so long that when I was finally diagnosed, I could only think about how to rid my life of gluten and limit any chances of accidentally eating gluten. For a while it was all I could talk about. My friend said it was the same for her.
We both advise you to keep it all in perspective. People around you want to talk about more than gluten! Since it is a very controllable disease with some food discipline, I consider all of us very fortunate that we don’t have something more serious. That may be hard to understand while still recovering from gluten damage to the intestines, but it’s true.
So don’t obsess and enjoy life! It is much too short to do otherwise!