RileyThe Voices of Celiac Disease

“Living with celiac disease has greatly improved my relationship with and understanding of food.”

A photo of a man cooking.

Describe your life prior to diagnosis:

Before celiac disease, I ate just about anything without restrictions and had a life full of energy, sports, and, to be honest, carefree freedom. I never really thought about allergens or the importance of food, aside from eating a clean diet for sports. Living day to day wasn’t something I had to think about.

How did you come to know (or suspect) that you have celiac disease?

I had a traumatic episode of tremendous pain in the abdomen that made me quite sick and had to have exploratory surgery to reduce the massive inflammation that occurred in the small intestine. The first blood test I had did not show anything, but during a two month follow-up they found evidence of celiac disease in the lining of my small intestine.

This, however, was just the beginning of a two-year journey of not knowing what was happening to me.

How long did it take for you to get diagnosed since your first symptoms and what (if any) challenges did you face along the way?

It took three months, and I had many challenges, including irregular weight loss and major abdominal pain, even after I started avoiding gluten.

I had to undergo two weeks of emergency care at the clinic and a month of rehabilitation. I was ultimately diagnosed with celiac disease and severe IBS, but to this day I have not received a direct answer about or solution for some of my symptoms.

Describe your experience with living with celiac disease:

Living with celiac disease has greatly improved my relationship with and understanding of food. It has also encouraged me to accept living with a disorder and to turn this trauma into an ongoing journey of embracing this limitation as an adventure to find and cook amazing GF cuisine.

Is there anything else you’d like to add to your story?

Today I work as a college chef and cook for those who avoid gluten. I hope to shed light on not just the gluten-free lifestyle but on any dietary restriction.