After reading the post "Grieving Gluten: The Five Stages of Loss of Gluten" by blogger Shirley Braden aka gluten free easily, it really made me think about my own experiences. Technically I have only been gluten free for not even a full year (6 months and counting). So I guess you could say that my experiences with losing gluten are more recent than most of my fellow bloggers.
The five stages are similarly modeled after The Five Stages of Grief proposed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross who wrote about dealing with death and dying. So than what are the five stages of loss of gluten?
1.) Denial 2.) Anger 3.) Bargaining 4.) Depression 5.) Embracement
When I was first diagnosed, I thought I handled the information rather well. I mean I had been sick for years and just wanted an answer. So any answer, no matter what the answer might have been, was better than not knowing. Right? Or, maybe that was just a little white lie I told myself to help me cope with the situation. Either way, I was actually excited to finally have an answer. And it was a simple solution really...just don't eat gluten. That's it? That's all I have to do? Just don't eat whatever it is that is making me sick? No problem! I mean, how hard could that be? A day later, reality came a knockin' on my door.
*DENIAL, ANGER & BARGAINING* Before I could go shopping for the food that would fit my new lifestyle, I went online to research what I could and couldn't eat. After about five minutes of Googling terms like gluten free, gluten intolerant, Celiac Disease, I started to feel a bit overwhelmed. The realization that there were a lot of foods I would never be able to eat again began to sink in. I started compiling a list of my favorite foods that were now considered forbidden fruit.
The notion of avoiding food that I had enjoyed for so long actually made me cry. And we're not talking a few stray tears either, but full on sobbing mess. If you had told me a few years ago that I would cry over never being able to enjoy a Pink's hotdog...I would have called you a liar, but alas it did happen. It was too much for me to handle and in my overly emotional state, I threw the list away. The doctor had to be wrong about my diagnosis! The other physicians I had seen had misdiagnosed me, so why couldn't this diagnosis be wrong too? So what did I do? I avoided bread, pasta and other wheat products, but continued to eat other gluten laden foods.
*DEPRESSION* So I went through the first three stages of loss in the first couple of days of my diagnosis. I continued on floating down that river called "de-nial" and kept on bargaining with myself when it was alright for me to cheat. This vicious cycle continued for four months. Well as you can imagine my health did not improve much. I did start to notice that the longer I was gluten free the better I felt. Inevitably though I would sabotage my health by giving in to the temptation of some kind of chocolatey baked goodness. Even though while in the moment I was stuffing my face I felt satisfied, that gratification only lasted a few short minutes. What followed was physical pain in my gut and legs. Not only did my body hurt, but it felt weak and extremely fatigued. The pain lasted days, sometimes a week. All of this agony and suffering for something as simple as a chocolate cupcake, or a brownie? I found myself getting more and more melancholy. My unhappiness only led to more self loathing and sabotage. Depression perpetuated my need to continue to devour food filled with gluten.
*EMBRACEMENT* Somehow along the way, I managed to wake up and realize that I had to stop all that nonsense. It was December of 2010. With the New Year fast approaching, I was thankful to be alive and realized I needed to finally accept the fact that my life was going to be different. Change did not have to mean that my life was now going to be miserable, but a new kind of adventure. So I rang in 2011 with a heart full of love, happiness and hope. I was optimistic about my new life and what I might be able to accomplish once healthy again. In the spirit of a new beginning I started this blog to help keep me accountable. Now it has turned into something much more than that. It is a wonderful way to share with friends and family all that I've learned, and share my passion for food and life.
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