Hi, I’m Asha! I’m a junior in high school and I’m from New Jersey. I was diagnosed with Celiac at 9 years old.
In 5th grade I was experiencing symptoms such as stomach aches every single day, after every meal. I would get “full” after only eating a few bites of food, but my family and I didn’t know that I wasn’t digesting my food properly because of the gluten in it. I became severely underweight and my growth was stunted. Because of this, my doctor flagged me to get tested for celiac disease. After many tests, I showed positive for celiac disease.
My family and I had never heard of celiac before, and we were concerned about what was wrong with my digestive system and how we could fix it. Luckily, my doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia were extremely helpful and gave us many tips. We learned what gluten was and how I was supposed to maintain a strict gluten-free lifestyle. They even recommended a celiac disease support group that my family and I attended along with other families struggling with celiac disease.
After a few months, the process became easier and easier, and advocating for myself became second nature. Currently, I feel very comfortable living with celiac disease and maintaining a strict, gluten-free diet. I want to help others learn how to deal with tricky situations like shopping for groceries and going out to eat with friends. As a teenager in high school who loves traveling, I hope to help others with situations like family vacations both around the country and internationally, parties and get-togethers, new restaurants, and finding out if specific food items are safe to eat.
Learning to live with celiac disease has been a difficult journey, but I had amazing support teams and doctors to make the process so much easier. As a Beyond Celiac Ambassador, I am excited to help others adjust to the lifestyle and help them gain confidence in educating and advocating for themselves.