Today marks the 5 year anniversary of my starting the gluten-free diet. On January 9, 2006 my doctor called to tell me that I would have to start a gluten-free diet. I was scared & excited. Excited that I may start to feel better, but scared that I would no longer be able to enjoy my favorite foods. Little did I know where that road would lead when I started down it.
Fast forward 5 years down the road and here I am. I am writing for Celiac-Disease.com, Live Gluten Freely and am the Columbus Gluten-Free Food Examiner, all in addition to maintaining my own gluten-free blog about living life without gluten. I like to say that I took my lemons and made an awful lot of lemonade. I am not one to let something keep me down for long – I am all about finding a way to make things work. I truly believe in the saying “where there is a will, there is a way”.
Over the past five years I have watched the gluten-free food market explode. I remember the first time I went grocery shopping looking for gluten-free food. I believe that trip ended in tears, as did a few after that. Not only was I terrified that I was going to mess up and eat something with gluten, but gluten-free food wasn’t nearly as prominent then. There wasn’t nearly as much awareness as there is now. It was a rarity to see a mainstream company label a product “gluten-free”. I think the first mainstream products I remember seeing the words “gluten-free” on were Smart Balancemargarine and Clabber Girl Baking Powder. Clabber Girl has said that on the side for years. I can remember seeing that on the side of the can way back when I had no idea what gluten was. Funny how things work out.
I have gone from being terrified of dining out to taking charge and helping to educate restaurants & chefs on how to feed us safely. Sure, there are times that I still become frustrated because even though there is so much more awareness, it has not reached all corners of the restaurant world. Those establishments are behind the times, in my opinion. As a former restaurant manager, I believe that it is crucial to know your competition and what they are offering. What makes your restaurant better than the one next door? Options and customer service go a long way. If a restaurant takes care of your special dietary needs, you are more likely to spread the word and remain loyal to that establishment.
So what am I doing to celebrate? I enjoyed many pieces of carrot cake for my birthday, so I believe that was my celebration. What I plan to do this next year is to continue to raise awareness by getting the word out there via my blogs,Twitter and Facebook pages. I love to find new gluten-free foods and share them with all of you. I have a feeling that 2011 is going to be a big year for gluten-free!
For more, visit www.glutenfreeislife.com!