Finding (Gluten) Freedom Stories: Marie

Finding (Gluten) Freedom Stories are about YOU!

These posts feature the experiences, advice, and questions of people (just like you and me) living gluten-free—they are intended to provide both insight and support for members of our gluten-free community, so please comment below if you would like to answer one of the questions or discuss your own experience.

Meet Marie!

Marie has been living gluten free since 2010.

“Patience, patience, patience! It gets easier figuring out recipes and reading ingredient labels. It gets easier saying no to people and various gluten-filled food items too.”

Why are you living gluten-free?

I was diagnosed with celiac disease after many hospital visits the previous year.

How long have you been living gluten-free?

I was diagnosed in August 2010. I spent a total of two weeks in the hospital the year leading up to that with doctors unable to figure out what was going on. My gallbladder had stopped working out of the blue, so that was removed, but the digestive symptoms only got worse from there. The second time I was in the hospital, before they did the endoscopy one of my doctors told me that I just had the stomach flu. Lo-and-behold though, the celiac disease diagnosis was made later, but only after I kept a food journal that was showing plain Cheerios were making me sick within half hour of eating them. Finally then, my primary doctor sent me for blood work and re-evaluated my endoscopy results which showed celiac.

Is your entire kitchen gluten-free?

Sadly it is not. I live with my grandmother and help take care of her with my mom (who also has celiac disease.) My grandmother does not have to live the gluten-free lifestyle though, and she thinks everything about it is disgusting (definitely a pity!) We have two different color toasters, different color kitchen utensils and mixing bowls, we go through a ton of tin foil and parchment paper when cooking and baking, and I’m constantly cleaning the kitchen counters to try to prevent cross-contamination.

Do you bake? Bake from scratch?

I love baking, and it’s a pretty even mix between from scratch and from mix. I make my own bread and pizza, using Chebe mixes all the time. From scratch, I’ve modified most of my holiday cookie recipes to be gluten free, and people can’t even tell the difference!

What is your favorite GF resource?

I live just outside of Buffalo, NY, and we have an extremely active gluten-free group on Facebook. People are constantly sharing ideas, recipes, restaurant suggestions, and new products that they found locally. The great thing is that everyone has different tastes, so you find out a lot of new things that you maybe wouldn’t have considered in the first place. Also, I don’t know where I would be without the “Find Me Gluten Free” phone app and website when traveling, which I do a lot of for my job.

(Note from Beth: I’d love to hear some of your travel tips, Marie!)

What are your best tips for a gluten-free newbie?

Patience, patience, patience! It gets easier figuring out recipes and reading ingredient labels. It gets easier saying no to people and various gluten-filled food items too. That was probably the worst part for me in the beginning: wanting to be polite but still not wanting to get sick. You get over that worry really fast, because it’s not worth being “off” for a couple weeks.

I’ve found that taking a daily multivitamin plus extra calcium/vitamin D helps a ton, especially when I’m feeling sluggish with not a lot of sun (I live just outside of Buffalo, NY…so winters can be rough.)

What surprised you the most about living gluten-free?

How much sugar and fat is in the marketed gluten free products! I always joke with people that whoever said gluten-free was a diet to lose weight obviously didn’t follow it the way most who have celiac disease/gluten sensitivity follow it. I gained about 20 pounds at first when I was diagnosed and started eating gluten free, and it took me a while to start just eating around the outside of the grocery store (fruits, veggies, meats, dairy.) The other thing that surprised me was how much it affects other things, such as my teeth and vitamin levels. I had always wondered why I brushed and flossed more than my brothers (who don’t have celiac disease) but still ended up with more cavities! Turns out not being able to absorb the nutrients from food can affect your teeth, which I had never thought of before.

What question(s) you are still struggling to answer about living gluten-free?

I’m still in search of the elusive pie crust recipe that makes flaky pie crust that doesn’t split down the middle of the shell when baking without having a chemical aftertaste. One day, it will come to me!

Thank you, Marie!

If you would like to be featured, please email me and specify you are interested in sharing your story.